Apitherapy is the broad practice of using bee pollen, propolis, royal jelly, beeswax, honey or bee venom for therapeutic use. Like most “alternative” therapies, there is nothing new about it. The only thing “new” is Western medicine finally “discovering” it! Chinese physicians of 4000 years ago used apitherapy. Hippocrates wrote of its uses. The Roman physician Galen (130 AD) prescribed Bee Venom Therapy. Charlemagne was known to use bee stings to alleviate arthritic symptoms. And the Athenian lawmaker Solon, (530 BC), found apiaries so vital to Greek society that laws were written to protect them.
Using the sting of the bee to encourage health is the most dramatic area of apitherapy. And the most dramatic evidence supporting BVT is being gathered in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS).
A conservative estimate of MS patients in the US using BVT is 5000. Most go to lay practitioners or self-administer the stings.
MS is a very complex affliction apparently focusing on the nervous system and the ability of the body to transmit nerve information. It also displays links with connective tissue disorders and immune system imbalances. MS patients suffer extreme fatigue, lack of balance and muscle control (ataxia), and chronically progress to immobility, usually becoming wheel-chair bound.
MS is described by Western medicine as “incurable.” The 1993 drug interferon beta was looked at hopefully, being the first new drug developed by the biotechnology industry in 30 years. It is now not so hopeful, extremely expensive (at $1000/mo), and patients show only incremental gains if any.
Bee Venom Therapy, on the other hand, is inexpensive, has relatively no side-effects, and is showing so much promise in treatment of MS, that the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is funding studies.
The NMSS makes it very clear that it does not recommend bee stings because of the “absence of clinical studies,” and therefore has awarded funding to Fred Lublin, M.D., Director of Neuroimmunology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia to conduct a study of its efficacy.
The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) is also funding research. Their grant has gone to John Santilli, M.D., of Bridgeport (Conn.) Hospital for clinical trials.
Both of these tests are taking the “Western” approach of breaking down the components of the bee venom to find the “active” ingredients. A more holistic approach would be to use the natural sting effect.
BVT has been shown to be effective in addressing several other afflictions besides MS. It is most promising in the treatment of arthritic conditions. Other maladies responding include wound treatments, vascular disease, respiratory disease, especially asthma, viral and immune system deficiencies.