Also known as Apitherapy

Bee products have been attributed with having healing properties as far back as the Ancient Egyptians, who swore by the use of honey as a healing medicine. Whilst is the opinion of many that apitherapy is an old wive's tale, bee venom therapy is gradually being given credence, especially in the wake of the upsurge of interest in alternate medicine. It is particularly favoured by practitioners of Chinese medicine. Bee venom can cause severe allergic reactions in a few people, but there is some documentary evidence that it can help sufferers of inflammatory diseases (especially arthritis), multiple sclerosis, and chronic and acute injuries (neuralgia, sciatica etc). However it is actually quite difficult to scientifically assess whether apitherapy actually does have an effect due to the requirement of treatment over many months and the unpredictable nature of these types of inflammatory disease.

Honey bee venom contains many potentially active ingredients, the main ones being melittin (a powerful anti-inflammatory said to be 100 times more powerful than hydrocortisone), adolapin (also a powerful anti-inflammatory), and also measureable amounts of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin.

The treatment itself is presumably not pleasant. The patient has to either submit to being stung by several times by honey bees, 2 to 3 times a week for some months, or to have subcutaneous injections of previously collected bee venom (sometimes mixed with a local anaesthetic) although the latter is said to be less potent than fresh from the bee! Side effects are pain at the site, itching and swelling (and sometimes severe allergic reaction, so be careful (no pun intended) if you are thinking of going down this route). Application of ice to the skin immediately before and after the treatment can help alleviate the pain.

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