Oct 20th, 2013
Why Bee Stings Relieve Painful Joints
No cod liver oil for me then

This article was written by Sade Oguntola of the Nigerian Tribune and explained why getting stung is good for you – though you might not appreciate it at the time.

For centuries, honey, bee pollen, and bee venom have been used to treat a number of ailments that vary between chronic pains to skin conditions. Apitherapy, or the medical use of honeybee products that range from royal jelly to bee venom, was used by the ancient Egyptians as a homeopathic remedy for rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), dissolving scar tissue, such as keloids, Herpes zoster, reducing the reaction to bee stings in people who are allergic, swollen tendons (tendonitis), and muscle conditions such as fibromyositis.

A bee sting is an unpleasant experience that undoubtedly everyone would choose to avoid if given the choice. However a growing number of people are choosing to be stung by bees in an alternative form of illness treatment called apitherapy.

Today, bee venom therapy, or bee sting therapy, has captured the attention of medical science as a potential homeopathic remedy for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Bee venom is made by bees. This is the poison that makes bee stings painful. Bee venom is used to make medicine.

ALS, often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neuro degenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Its early symptoms often include increasing muscle weakness, especially involving the arms and legs, speech, swallowing or breathing.

Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralysed.

Scientists in a 2013 study published in the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine that looked at the effect of bee venom on ALS found that bee stings could soothe the neuro inflammatory events that occur in a symptomatic ALS in laboratory animals.

In the study, which came to conclusion that bee venom, in fact could prevent the impairment that is caused by ALS, the researchers found that bee venom treatment may be able to eliminate the cell toxicity induced in cells of the brain and the spinal cord by ALS.

Although little is known about the mechanisms by which bee venom prevent the impairment that is caused by ALS, the researchers suggested however that bee venom should be considered as a new treatment that can be developed to bring relief from the pain of ALS and even prevent it from developing in the first place.

Although bee venom therapy is largely an unproven technique, about 50 U.S. physicians report good results using the substance to treat not only pain but arthritic conditions, multiple sclerosis, and other health woes. Other practitioners treat high blood pressure, asthma, hearing loss, and even premenstrual syndrome with bee venom.

For example, Christopher Kim, in his article, printed in the March 1989 issue of the German journal, Rheumatologie had administered apitherapy to 3,000 people, including 108 rheumatoid and osteoarthritis patients over a two-year period that had not responded to convention treatments.
Starting with twice-weekly injections, he gradually increased the number of shots until the patients improved significantly. Most subjects showed improvement after an average of 12 injections.

In addition, researchers in another Clinical randomised study of bee-sting therapy for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) which was documented in the 2008 edition of the journal, Zhen Ci Yan Jiu, also said that combined application of bee-venom therapy and medication is superior to simple use of medication in relieving RA, and when bee-sting therapy used, the commonly-taken doses of western medicines may be reduced, and the relapse rate gets lower.

There is no standardised practice for the administration of bee venom. Stinging is not limited to any specific area of the body, as stings in different places seem to produce different results. Some practitioners purport that the location of the sting is important, with the sting acting as a sort of acupuncture in combination with the effects of the venom, while others report the location is not important.

The number of stings also varies widely from a few to hundreds and they may be administered either by live bees or by injection. This treatment can cause pain, and even result in death if the subject has an allergy to bee venom, which can produce anaphylactic shock.

Apitherapy researchers suggest that certain compounds in bee venom, namely melittin and adolapin, help reduce inflammation and pain, and that the combination of all the “ingredients” in bee venom somehow helps the body to release natural healing compounds in its own defence.

Bee venom is a complex mixture of substances that are known to induce immune and allergic responses in humans.

Practitioners believe all the ingredients in bee venom work together to cause the body to release more natural healing compounds in its own defence. Bee venom is also said to increase blood circulation and reduce swelling.