Bee Venom for Pain Related to Arthritis
Bee venom, the poison made by bees which make stings painful, is a colorless liquid rich in pharmaceutically active components. Bee venom therapy, also known as apitherapy, has been around for thousands of years. Supposedly, the healing powers of bee venom for pain was discovered after beekeepers who were stung multiple times noticed their pain related to arthritis was relieved.
Bee venom is obtained without killing the bees and is either given as an injection or applied as a cream. Some health care providers will still use live bee stings to administer the venom. The number of health care providers familiar with apitherapy is limited. This alternative treatment is more widely used in South America, Eastern Europe and Asia.
Almost forty ingredients have been identified in bee venom and all are believed by some practitioners to help the body release its own natural healing compounds. Two particular ingredients include mellitin and adolapin. Mellitin has anti-inflammatory properties and is claimed to be 100 times stronger than cortisone. Adolapin also has anti-inflammatory properties, as well as analgesic properties.
Dr. Christopher Kim, one of the founders of the American Apitherapy Society (AAS), has treated over 3,000 people with bee venom. According to a two year study involving 108 people with arthritis (rheumatoid and osteoarthritis) who did not respond to conventional treatments, most showed improvement after receiving an average of 12 injections.
A study performed in China involving 100 patients with rheumatoid arthritis found that the application of medication and bee venom therapy was superior to medication alone.
Most evidence of the effectiveness of bee venom is from clinical observations, case studies and uncontrolled case reports. No double blind control studies have been done in humans because there is no known agent to mimic the effects of bee venom, there is no interest from the medical and pharmaceutical industry to finance such a study, and there is no way to patent it to interest investors.
Besides using bee venom for pain related to rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, it has also been used to treat other rheumatologic diseases such as gout, bursitis and fibromyalgia, bee allergies, cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure, endocrine system diseases including hyperthyroidism, irregular menstrual periods and PMS, pulmonary diseases, neurological diseases, immunological diseases, skin diseases, infections and even psychological diseases like depression.
For most people, bee venom is safe when used appropriately. Reactions are mild and are considered to be normal. These include redness, heat, itching and mild swelling at the site of injection and flu-like symptoms which can last for several days. Anaphylactic reactions are rare.
Pregnant women and individuals with certain medical conditions, including those allergic to bees, should not use bee venom. Women who are breastfeeding, children under 12 years old and people with certain health problems or taking medications should use with caution.
Medicine Net: Sting the Pain Away - https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=50602
Holistic MD: Bee Venom Therapy - https://www.holisticmd.org/treatments/bee_venom_therapy.php
Pub Med: Clinical randomized study of bee-sting therapy for rheumatoid arthritis - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18807725
Image courtesy of https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Western_honey_bee.jpg
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