Bee Venom Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis: What is It and Does It Work?

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In the United States, it is estimated that approximately 5,000 to 10,000 multiple sclerosis patients use bee venom therapy. This type of apitherapy is pretty cut and dried. In a controlled setting, people literally get stung with bees. Bee venom therapy for multiple sclerosis is gaining popularity, but before even attempting it it is very important that patients talk to their doctors and learn more about the potential dangers, as well as about the exact purported mechanism of action.

What is It?

Bee venom therapy for multiple sclerosis claims to work along with the patient’s body to reduce inflammation. The theory behind this is that inflammation is produced by the bee stings, therefore, an anti-inflammatory response is mounted by the body. So, in theory, this would work in decreasing inflammation where the immune system is attacking the myelin in a patient with multiple sclerosis.

Prior to treatment, patients may be injected with a weakened form of the venom to determine if the patient will be allergic. If the patient is not allergic, therapy may continue. The therapist will take a pair of tweezers and grab a live bee. They will place the stinger to a part of the body and the stinger will remain in the body for up to 15 minutes, then the therapist takes a pair of tweezers and removes the stingers. Each session involves about 20 to 40 stings. Patients will normally have three sessions per week.

The venom may also be injected with a syringe under the skin. This is typically done by doctors as an alternative to live bees.

A patient’s individual pain tolerance will determine their level of discomfort. They will get stung 20 to 40 times so there will be discomfort involved. Before and after being stung, ice may be applied to the area to try and lessen the pain.

What is It Used For?

Bee venom therapy is used by people for a variety of autoimmune disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, scleroderma, and rheumatoid arthritis. It is also purported to be beneficial for other conditions, such as skin conditions, varicose veins, depression, and menstrual cramps.

Effectiveness for Multiple Sclerosis

Limited studies have been performed to determine how effective this therapy is for multiple sclerosis. While evidence is lacking, patients have reported experiencing less fatigue, increased stability, and less spasticity. However, concrete evidence is not available at this time.

Possible Risks

Most patients will experience redness and swelling at the sites in which they are stung. Approximately 20 percent of patients experience hives, anxiety, itching, and fatigue. Flu-like symptoms have also been reported. There are also some risks, though rare, that all patients should be aware of. These include optic neuritis, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, and death.

Some patients should avoid this therapy, including those with syphilis, tuberculosis, insulin-dependent diabetes, gonorrhea, and severe allergies.


Neurology Channel. (2000). Multiple Sclerosis and Bee Venom Therapy. Retrieved on December 9, 2010 from Neurology Channel:

Haran, C. (2010). The Buzz About Bee Venom Therapy for MS. Retrieved on December 9, 2010 from RightHealth:


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