BEE VENOM THERAPY by
Glenn Rothfeld M.D.
Apitherapy, the medicinal use of honey bee products, has been practiced since ancient times. In the modern world honey bee venom has found wide uses in treating arthritis and other inflammatory and degenerative diseases. The world scientific literature contains more than 1500 articles on bee venom. The French and Russian equivalents of the N.I.H. have been involved in clinical studies of honey bee venom, and in the U.S., the Army has looked extensively at the chemical compounds in bee venom.

Honey bee venom contains at least 18 active substances. Melittin, the most prevalent substance, is one of the most potent anti-inflammatory agents known (100 times more potent than
hydrocortisol). Adolapin is another strong anti-inflammatory substance, and inhibits

cyclooxygenase; it thus has analgesic activity as well. Apamin inhibits complement C3 activity, and blocks calcium-dependent potassium channels, thus enhancing nerve transmission. Other substances, such as Compound X, Hyaluronidase, Phospholipase A2, Histamine, and Mast Cell Degranulating Protein (MSDP), are involved in the inflammatory response of venom, with the softening of tissue and the facilitation of flow of the other substances. Finally, there are measurable amounts of the neurotransmitters Dopamine, Norepinephrine and Seratonin.
Bee Venom therapy can be useful in a wide variety of medical situations. Charles Mraz, a beekeeper in Middlebury, Vermont who has popularized bee venom therapy for the past 60 years, says that it is reasonable to try bee venom therapy in any clinical situation where nothing else works. However, there are four situations which are most frequent:

  1. Arthritis and other systemic inflammations. Bee venom therapy can be useful in both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, helping with both pain and swelling. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid nodules can lessen in size. Other connective tissue diseases such as scleroderma have been (anecdotally) helped by BVT. Even systemic inflammations not related to joints, such as ulcerative colitis or even asthma, may warrant a trial of bee venom. This is presumedly due to stimulation of endogenous cortisol through the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis.
  2. Acute and chronic injuries. Bursitis, tendonitis and other areas of injury respond well to bee venom therapy. In this case, the effect is probably a local anti-inflammatory effect, involving the humoral and cellular immune responses to a foreign protein. Chronic back and neck pain may respond, as can other aches and pains.
  3. Scar tissue. Keloids and other scar tissue are broken down and softened by the substances in the venom, and can flatten out and fade in color. Internalscar tissue, such as adhesions from previous surgery, may respond to treatment over the area.
  4. Multiple Sclerosis. This use of bee venom is poorly understood, and needs to be studied further. Recently, the MS Association of America awarded a grant to an immunologist, Dr. John Santilli, to prepare the venom in extract form to study its effect on MS patients. Hundreds of patients with MS currently seek out bee venom therapists and beekeepers. The treatment is prolonged and not for the squeamish, but the common responses are increased stability, less fatigue, and less spasm.
Bee Venom Therapy can be performed by a beekeeper, or by a patient or partner who is taught to use the bees.
A bee is removed from a jar or hive with tweezers, held over an area of the body, which it then stings. The number, sites, and frequency of the stings depend on the patient and the problem. A simple tendonitis might just take a few stings, perhaps 2-3 at a session for 2-5 sessions. A more chronic problem like arthritis can take 2-3 times per week, several stings at a time, for 1-3 months. Multiple sclerosis takes months to respond, though sometimes patients feel more energetic after a few times. MS patients who use bee venom insist that one must keep it up 2-3 times per week for 6 months in order to give it a full trial.

There are physicians around who use bee venom therapy in their practices. This is done by obtaining the venom (in sterilized vials) and injecting it under the skin, sometimes mixed with a local anesthetic. Some say that collecting the venom in vials loses some of its potency, but in many situations this is more realistic than finding a beekeeper or handling bees.
Side effects of bee venom therapy are generally limited, since the inflammation, swelling, itching, etc. are desired effects. However, the risk of an anaphylactic allergic reaction to bee venom is real, and it is always wise to have a bee sting allergy kit on hand. Fortunately, most "bee" sting allergic reactions are actually to yellow jackets or wasps. Honey bee venom does not necessarily cross-react, and some studies show honey bee stings to account for less than 5% of all adverse stinging insect reactions. In addition, many people who have had severe local reactions to bee stings, which an apitherapist would consider a positive effect, are incorrectly considered to have allergy to bees.
Finding a beekeeper who is willing to sting someone is a matter of calling local beekeepers and organizations. There is also the American Apitherapy Society, headquartered in Scarsdale, N.Y. They sponsor an annual conference on apitherapy (bee venom therapy). Books of interest include Bees Don't Get Arthritis by Fred Malone (Academy Books) and Bee in Balance by Amber Rose (Starpoint Ltd).

 

 

 

 

 

 


Gidi Shaprut   / Bee  Happy

Two people sit in a room with dozens of bees.  One of them lays the insects on the back of the other.  This is not an episode of Fear Factor.  Rather, it's a standard session of BVT.  Welcome to the world of Bee Venom Therapy.

Dr. Bee

Alon Gamlieli's clinic is in a small quiet side street, in the centre of bustling Tel Aviv.  The therapy takes place in a large white room. There is a treatment  bed under a wall plastered with giant maps of the body meridian and acupuncture points.  Against the adjacent wall there is a work table full of jars and books, a shelf above stacked full of boxes that buzz. 

The big difference between Alon and other acupuncturists lies in a small flying bug called Apis mellifera, or, in plain English, the Honey Bee.  On the window sill between the plants is a box with 600 bees.  These are the sterile hypodermic injections that are used in BVT treatment.  Yes, Alon's patients actually come to get intentionally stung by bees. 

 

From Hippocrates to Maya the Honey Bee.

We are not talking about something new here.  Once again, the world is again taking a step and a half back in time to experiment with different kinds of healing treatments that come from an age when our lives were bound more closely to the earth.  Honey bee products have been know to man as a treatment tool for over 15,000 years.  The first scientific paper on Bee Venom Therapy was published in France in 1850. The research dealt with gaot and arthritis.  There are also mentions of the usage of bees in the Bible, the Koran and old Hindu scriptures.  Even Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, referred to venom as a "mysterious medicine".  This treatment is called BVT – Bee Venom Therapy is only one of the treatments in a field called Apitherapy.  In BVT controlled stings are administered as an invigorator for the immune  system, for joint problems and inflammation diseases.  Other treatments include honey inhalations for asthma problems, hopi candles for cleaning ear wax from both adult and children's ears, cosmetic and skin treatments as well as nutrition supplements.  Around the world there are a plethora of clinics and hospitals that treat patients with Aptiherapy.  The first Apitherapist in Israel was a biologist from Haifa by the name of Moshe Elmaliach.  Even today, past the age of 80, Moshe still treats patients at his home with bee stings.

From her honey as well as from her sting.

The world already knows that honey is healthy.  It contains substances that combat ageing, heart disease and skin burns.  But honey is not the only highly effective bee product.  Royal Jelly, another product from the hive has a high concentration of minerals, vitamins and essential amino acids.  Proplis is a dark plastiscine like tree resin that bees use to keep the hive sterile.  It has a highly respected place on the alternative medicine pharmacy shelf and is referred to as nature's antibiotic.  Pollen, collected by bees in small pellets on their legs, is regarded as a perfect multivitamin supplement.  The hive can in fact be regarded as an organic chemical laboratory that processes and refines substances from the plant world.  But not all is honey.  There is also the sting. 

 

Between an injection and a sting.

The stinger of a bee is made out of a fine hypodermic needle, two muscles and a venom sac.  When the stinger penetrates the skin it hooks in the tissue and the two muscles automatically squeeze the venom sac.  0.3 milliliters of venom is injected into the affected area.  Alon uses the stinger as both a micro injection and as acupuncture needle.  This combination is called Apipuncture by the Chinese.  During the treatment bees are laid along meridians.  In the case of inflamed joints the treatment is carried out directly on the problem area.  Some treatments require up to 20 stings (on different areas of the body)!!! Of course the first step for any new patient of BVT is an allergy test.  The exposure to the venom needs to be progressed gradually.  At the end of the treatment the immune system is awake and well trained.  The length of treatment is approximately three months and the patient is exposed to up to 200 stings in total.  Patients who need daily treatments receive a take home box from Alon, called a bee hotel, which contains between 100 and 200 bees.  Through the course of treatment, patients learn how to apply the sting themselves.  They return to the clinic as needed to refill their bee hotel. 

The abundant variety of diseases and symptoms that bee stings can heal is astonishing.    It also includes diseases that have been termed incurable by traditional medicine.  The treatment is both holistic and body strengthening.  The foreign substance (the venom) is injected into the body and stimulates the immune system to heal the body.  That's why this treatment is recommended for people suffering from diseases that damage the immune system such as inflamed joints, migraines, asthma, prostate problems, high blood pressure. These represent just a small range of things that are treatable by the bee's venom.  Researchers have shown that patients with multiple sclerosis (a neurological inflammation of the brain) that are treated with bee stings demonstrate a halt in deterioration of their body's condition.  There have even bees some cases of full recovery documented.

 

As with all alternative treatments, modern science also views BVT with  an attitude of slight suspicion tempered with a hesitant excitement.  Veterinarians all around the world have been using bee venom for many years as an excellent treatment for inflamed joints in dogs and horses.  Many neurologists research and conduct experiments with bee venom.  Professor Abshalom Mizrachi from The Readman International College for Complementary Medicine recently wrote a book on the subject of Apitherapy called "From the Honey to the Sting" (Hotan Zahaz 1999).  In the book he gives a wide overview of the subject of Apitherapy from both the scientific and holistic perspectives.  

awareness of the suffering of animals

Like with every medicine or product that is made out of living creatures, there exists a dilemma about the killing a living creature. When a bee stings, she releases a stinger that contains some of her vital organs, resulting in her death. There are ways of milking the venom out of the bees without killing them, but these techniques result in loss of some of the chemical compounds that are essential for use in Apitherapy.  A new technique uses a microscopic multi mesh through which the bee can sting without losing her stinger and dying.  Alon still uses the traditional method and gives his gratitude to the bees for giving their lives.  He buries them in the garden – they make an excellent source of compost!  It is interesting that this dilemma is almost exclusively associated with bees and butterflies, but rarely with insects that we label 'parasites', like flies, cockroaches, mosquitoes etc.  As opposed to the lynching of these annoyances, the 'killing' in BVT Therapy can actually result in the saving of a life. 

So how does it actually work?

Alon marks targets on the patient's body and opens his kit of buzzing injections.  With long tweezers he takes out a bee and puts it in on the target area. The stinger gets lodged in the skin and the bee is detached and placed in a special jar. The stinger contains a small muscle and a sack that helps pump the venom under the skin. A sting on a meridian flows through energy lines to a sick organ.  Other treatments include stings directly on inflamed joints. There are more than 40 different chemical compounds in the venom. Injecting these substances into the body stimulates an emergency reaction in the immune system. The body recognizes the invading foreign protein and puts all systems on alert. The adrenalin gland starts to secrete cortizol and adrenalin in order to rejuvenate and heal damaged tissue (this is the reason the treatment is a good alternative to steroids). As part of the emergency response of all systems, the body sorts local proteins from foreign proteins.      A few of the chemicals found in bee venom are able to pass through the brain's filter to penetrate it.  These substances are good in healing inflammations in the nerve system like Multiple Sclerosis.

After the sting, there is swelling on the skin somewhat larger than that of a mosquito bite. The stinger stays in the skin for a few minutes until it is has fully discharged into the body. Next, Alon uses a Japanese technique (multi puncture) and moves the stinger from place to place.  Alon explains to those fearful of the first sting, that the fear can to likened to the fear of a Dentist's injection. The big difference, here, is that the body isn't sent to sleep – it is awakened!

 

Links

Israel Apitherapy Center - www.apitherapy.co.il

AAS.The American Apitherapy society      -    http://www.apitherapy.org /

BVT for MS patients - http://www.msakc.org/Articles/BeeVenomTherapy.htm

Link to this article      -    http://www.nrg.co.il/online/15/ART1/444/294.html

 

For more information and consultation, you are welcome to call.
With happiness and health.

 

Alon – Bee happy.