Bees have obviously been around for a long time. My knowledge of bees was that they produced honey, which I like, and give stings, which I don’t. But it turns out that even the stings have beneficial properties.
There is a growing number of people that practice apitherapy, the use of beehive products, which includes honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and bee venom. Apitherapy has been around for a long time. In fact, Hippocrates, the Greek physician and philosopher, used bee venom to treat joint pain and swelling. But it is not just the holistic practitioners that use bee venom for treatment of pain and inflammation but those who practice conventional medicine have also been exploring the use of bee venom for treating a wide variety of conditions including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis, chronic back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis.
Honeybee venom contains 40 ingredients, at least 18 of which reduce pain and inflammation. These include mellitin, an anti-inflammatory agent which is one hundred times stronger than cortisone, adolapin, which is both anti-inflammatory and pain-blocking, dopamine and seratonin. It is believed that the combination of substances in bee venom causes the release of natural healing compounds in the body.
A study conducted by researchers in South Korea published in late 2004 delved into the contribution of mellitin. They found that mellitin inhibited the release of inflammatory genes that are involved in immune reactions. They concluded that “The potency of melittin in the inhibition of the inflammatory response may be of great benefit in degenerative and inflammatory diseases such as RA”.
Traditionally, bee venom was administered with live bees. For many people, the treatment, or the thought of getting stung, was a hindrance to trying this therapy. Manyapitherapy patients, however, find that the relief from their chronic pain far outweighs the discomfort from stings. Some of these patients endure up to 80 bee stings a day, although for most three to four stings, three times a week is effective. There are also injectable forms of venom, as well as creams and ointments.