Apitherapy: Homeopathic Bee Venom Therapy

 

Introduction:

 

Bee venom has magnificent healing properties and is effective for the treatment of multiple chronic and autoimmune conditions.  The list of conditions where bee venom therapy can make a significant lasting difference is growing.  It is remarkably safe, but unfortunately only a limited number of health care practitioners are familiar with its use and effectiveness.  For centuries bee venom has been used to treat multiple illnesses in humans and animals.

Homeopathic honeybee venom therapy is a natural anti-inflammatory and pain reducing agent. It is widely used in Europe and countries of the Far East. In my experience, it is much safer than most conventional medications. It not only provides symptom relief, but can in many cases resolve your underlying condition. It is particularly helpful for patients with arthritis, fibromyalgia, neuralgias, Bell’s palsy, carpal tunnel syndrome, herpes zoster, osteoarthritis, multiple sclerosis and many other conditions.

My personal introduction to bee venom:

During my yoga practice in the summer of 2001, I pushed my knee too far and broke my meniscus.  After doing an MRI, an orthopedic surgeon concluded that surgery was the only way to avoid chronic pain and limited function of my knee.  Physical therapy and acupuncture had only mild effects.  I remembered observing Dietrich Klinghardt, M.D. administering homeopathic bee venom, but there were no practitioners around for me to ask advice. So, after consulting with Mihaly Simics and reading whatever I could find, I began administering bee venom injections to my knee.  To my surprise, the chronic pain disappeared and I regained full function of my knee.  Several months later, I returned to my yoga practice and I had a hard time determining which knee was actually hurt.  I continue to inject myself with bee venom 1-2 times per week as a supportive measure for my knee and to better deal with stress and improve my energy level.  It is a well known fact that beekeepers live longer and healthier lives.

A Summary of Bee Venom Therapy Dedicated Diet and Nutritional Guidelines

 

Do Not Eat or Drink

  • White foods (white bread, white rice, white sugar);
  • Foods and drinks containing artificial sweeteners;
  • Dairy products (milk, cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, etc.);
  • Alcohol, coffee, strong tea, cigarettes, tobacco;
  • Chocolate, cacao;
  • Oily, greasy foods (French fries, fast food products, etc.), junk foods.

Avoid Foods, Drinks and Products

  • Foods and drinks containing lactic acid (yogurt, apples, tomato juice, foxglove, etc.);
  • Products prepared from or containing strong aromatic oils or made with menthol, peppermint, eucalyptus, camphor (such as toothpaste, creams, candies, etc.);
  • Products containing sweet oils (such as Sweet Balm, Sweet Bark, Sweet Chamomile, Sweet Chervil, Sweet Clover, etc.);
  • Ginseng, parsnips, red onion;
  • Pops, carbonated drinks (Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, Carbonated mineral water, etc.).

Daily Dose of Essential Supplements

  • Vitamin C:  2000-3000 mg (Recommended brand: Wampole, chewable Vitamin C, 250 mg or 500 mg/tablet);
  • Vitamin B5:  100-500 mg;
  • Magnesium:  200-800 mg;

Recommended Foods and Life-Style

High protein diet and the consumption of whole foods are recommended.

  • Whole food sources:  vegetables, leafy green vegetables, fruits, dried foods, poultry, liver, fish, cod liver oil, egg, nuts and seeds, butter, whole grains, etc.;
  • Daily, eight to ten (8-10) cups of distilled/purified drinking water;
  • Daily, stay at least 2 hours in fresh air and exercise

Other Supplements

  • Vitamin E:  200-800 IU;
  • Vitamin D:  2000 IU
  • Honey – 0.5-1.0 g per body weight
  • Bee Pollen – 7-15 g (1/4 – 1/2 oz or 1- 2 tsp);  –  optional
  • PropolisPreparation Phase:  4-7 g of raw propolis or three times 15-20 drops of 20-25% propolis tincture;
  • PropolisTherapy Phase:  0.5-0.8 g propolis in capsule or tablet forms or propolis powder mixed with honey.  Do not exceed the daily 800 mg of propolis intake (raw, tablet or capsule forms) in this phase.  Do not take it in an alcoholic tincture form;
  • Royal Jelly – 0.1-0.3 g in capsule or tablet forms or 0.3-1.0 g in liquid form, or royal jelly and honey blended;

Herbs – Those indicated for your condition

Prepare to begin bee venom therapy in advance.  You must be free of medications such as steroids and NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for 2-3 months before administration of bee stings.  A longer drug free interval is preferable.  Remember that medications can be changed only after consulting your physician.

 

What conditions might be helped by bee venom therapy?

Bee venom has many uses and indications. Bee venom can be used from live bees, or by using a homeopathic solution of bee venom (homeopathic bee venom Apex Venenum Purum is an FDA approved product).The followinglist was compiled using several references– primarily Dr. Stefan Stangaciu M.D. and Theodore Cherbuliez, M.D., both well-known and respected authorities on bee venom treatment.

Ø  Allergies (Allergology)

  • Desensitization to bee venom with bee venom

Ø  Cardiovascular Diseases (Cardiology):

  • Acute Rheumatic Fever
  • Arrhythmias
  • Arthritis Obliterans
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Atherosclerotic Arthritis of the Inferior Limbs
    • Cerebral Thrombosis

·    Coronary Heart Diseases

  • High Blood Pressure
    • Hypotension
    • Peripheral Ischemic Degenerative Syndrome
      • Peripheral Vascular Diseases

·    Reynaud’s Disease

  • Varicosis

Ø  Endocrine System Diseases:

  • Cortisol Secretion Dysfunction
  • Hyperthyroidism
    • Hypofoliculinic Dysfunction Syndromes
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Irregular Menstrual Period
  • Menstrual Cramps
  • Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Ø  Rheumatologic Diseases

  • Non-articular (Bursitis, Tendonitis,

Fibromyalgia,

Dupuytren’s Contracture, Scars)

  • Articular (Rheumatoid, Psoriatic,

Osteo-arthritis, Traumatic, Gout)

Ø  Pulmonary Diseases:

  • Asthma
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Emphysema

Ø  Neurological Diseases

  • Chronic Pain Syndrome
  • Cerebral Thrombosis
  • Dupuytren’s Contractors
  • Lumbago Neuralgia
    • Multiple Sclerosis
    • Bell’s Palsy
    • Post-Herpetic Neuralgia
    • Guillain-Barre syndrome
    • Neuritis, Sciatica
    • Neuralgias
    • Diabetic Neuropathy
    • Carpal Tunnel syndrome
    • Zona-Zoster

Ø  Skin Diseases (Dermatology):

  • Bruises (“blue” skin contusion)
  • Degranulated Wounds
  • Hair loss
  • High sensitivity
  • Low sensitivity
  • Lupus Erythematosus
  • Melanoma
  • Moles
  • Mycosis Fungoides
  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Topical ulcers
  • Skin tumors and vascular skin tumors
  • Scars

Ø  Immunological Diseases

  • AIDS
  • B-Cell Enhancement
  • Endarteritis Obliterans
  • Lupus Erythematosa
  • Scleroderma
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
  • T-Cell suppression

Ø  Infections:

  • AIDS
  • Chronic Fatigue syndrome
  • Epstein Barr Disease
  • Mononucleosis
  • Shingles
  • Warts
  • Viral Meningitis

Ø  Psychological Diseases (according to recent reports from Russia):

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Substance abuse

However, all of the above indications have not been confirmed in double blind control studies.

What are the contra-indications to bee venom?

 

Ø  Absolute (you must not use bee venom if you have one of the following)

o   Bee venom allergy

o   Cardiac insufficiency

o   Kidney insufficiency

o   Pulmonary insufficiency

o   Infections, local and systemic

o   Feverish Diseases

o   Purulent infections

o   Pregnancy

o   Unwillingness

Ø  Relative (bee venom can be used, but with great care)

o   Diabetes (insulin dependent)

o   Digestive ulcers

o   Liver cirrhosis

o   Use of beta-blockers (Epinephrine may not be efficient in case of anaphylactic reaction)

o   Kidney insufficiency (glomerulo-nephritis, nephritis, polycystic kidneys, albuminuria)

o   Lung diseases (tuberculosis and advanced lung insufficiency)

o   Severe psychiatric conditions (psychosis, depression, anxiety)

o   Immediately before and after a meal

o   Nursing- during breast feeding

o   Children under 12 years old

 

 

How can you make an informed decision about using bee venom therapy?

Ø  Consult your medical practitioner and discuss in detail all treatment options both conventional and holistic.

Ø  Research and understand all available conventional and complimentary therapy options for your condition, their possible outcomes, limitations and side effects.

Ø  Research medline, local library and apitherapy research services for further information.

Ø  Assess which options are consistent with your belief system and intuitive judgment.  In other words, what makes the most sense to you?

Ø  Before considering bee venom as your choice ask yourself several questions:

  • Are you willing to follow a non-drug approach, take supplements and vitamins, and follow the regimen needed for bee venom therapy to be successful?
  • Are you prepared to live with the after effects?
  • Can you afford the therapy?
  • Are you prepared to make temporary and/or permanent lifestyle changes for this therapy?
  • Can you come two or three times per week to receive your injections?

If you have decided to undertake bee venom therapy:

  • Inform your medical practitioner and consult with him or her about whether or not you will need to change your medications.
  • Ask your medical practitioner for support and help in monitoring the progress of treatment.
  • Establish communication between your medical practitioner and the healing professional administering the bee venom injections.

If you decide not to undergo bee venom therapy:

  • Inform your physician and continue to adhere to the recommended treatment options.

How is bee venom obtained and used for healing?

  • Live bee stingBees can be stored for several weeks away from the hive.  Bee stings can be administered to tender points or acupuncture points, either alone or in conjunction with acupuncture needles. Some consider live bee injections to be the most effective, probably due to the fact that volatile fractions of bee venom cannot be preserved.  However, the effectiveness of live bee stings depends on when the bees were collected and can vary significantly from bee to bee.
  • Bee venom injection. Venom is obtained from the bees without killing them and is stored in ampoules.  Bee venom is then diluted with anesthetic and injected into tender body points.
  • Bee cream application. Cream is applied to the skin 2-3 times per day.

What are some common reactions to bee venom?

 

Most reactions are mild.  You may see redness, mild swelling, heat and itching in the area of the injections.  These reactions are expected and are part of treatment.  Such reactions can last from a few minutes to 2-5 days and are self-limiting (go away by themselves).  At times, flu-like symptoms may occur lasting several days. These are considered normal—they let you know that the body is going through a fighting/healing response. It is best to do nothing and just observe and tolerate the reaction, allowing the body go through the healing process.

What can you do if  you cannot tolerate the temporary discomfort of the  reactions?

 

Ø  Take plenty of vitamins and supplements (look at “How to make bee venom treatment more effective”)

Ø  Massage skin with a soft brush over the itchy area to provide temporary relief.

Ø  Apply an ice cube, cold compress, household ammonia or baking soda as a paste.

Ø  Apply Preparation H Cream (anti-itch cream with hydrocortisone 1%) to the skin in the area of the sting; another option is to rub a little meat tenderizer into skin (however, this will diminish effectiveness of bee venom).

Ø  Avoid using Benadryl, Calimine, antihistamines, and NSAID’s (like Motrin, Naprosyn and Tylenol), as they will block the effect of bee venom.

How safe is bee venom?

 

Bee venom is one of the safest healing agents.  Theoretically speaking, a lethal dose for a man weighing 166 lb would be 1425 stings; for a child of 66 lbs, 570 stings.  Seven people have survived after receiving 1000+ stings.  The toxic/therapeutic ratio for bee venom is about 70; for many medications it is less than 10.

Anaphylactic (severe allergic) reactions are very rare.  Although no validating statistics are known, the potential risk is about 1/150,000.  By US statistics it is estimated that there was one anaphylactic reaction in more than 800,000 treatment sessions (Apimondia’s Standing Commission for Apitherapy).  However, as a precaution, an epipen or Benadryl should always be on hand.

Most reactions to bee venom are mild to moderate, lasting only several minutes to several days and are at worst only uncomfortable and/or irritating.

 

How does bee venom work?

 

Bee venom is produced in a special sac of the worker bee.  Its function is to protect the colony from predators.  The queen bee produces bee venom also, but uses it mostly to kill her growing competitors.  Bee venom is very unique in its composition and is very different from that of other insects, so anyone who has an allergy to wasps, yellow jackets or other insects may not be allergic to bee venom.

 

Bee venom has multiple effects on the body: it improves blood circulation, increases physical strength and well being, stimulates the pituitary-cortical system, reduces pain and inflammation, has anti-oxidant effects, activates immune system, and helps convert chronic conditions to acute thus facilitating the healing of chronic inflammatory conditions.

Fraction: Action: Effects:
Mellitin      (50 % of dry bee venom) (26 aminoacids) Antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.  Destabilizes all the membrane structures at the level of the phospholipids.  Stimulates ACTH- secretion in the pituitary gland. Strong anti-inflammatory effects; long-lasting, short-acting histaminic effects: increased capillary permeability, edema (swelling), temperature elevation, itching, pain; increased vitality and sense of well being; forces bee venom to attach to negatively charged cell wall; anti-oxidant action.
Apamin –small basic peptide consisting of 18 aminoacids Stimulates central and peripheral effects on the nervous system. Stimulates secretion of serotonin and dopamine; anti-arrhythmic. Increases central and peripheral pain threshold, decreases pain, increases sense of well-being.
Adolapin Inhibits enzymes in metabolic cascades of arachidonic acid and cyclo-oxygenase. Anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain alleviation) action.
Mast Cell Degranulating Peptide (MCDP or peptide 401) Anti-inflammatory actions (approximately 100 times stronger than hydrocortisone). Reduces inflammation and pain through local action on tissue inflammation.  Activates adrenal and sympathetic system.
Hyluronidase, secapin, tertiapin, procamine Inhibition of substance “P” Anti-inflammatory, pain reducing.

Are there any scientific studies of bee venom?

 

There have been no double blind control studies done on humans testing the efficacy of bee venom therapy for several reasons:

  • There is no known agent that would mimic the effect of bee venom, so no appropriate sham treatment can be provided.
  • There is no interest on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry or the medical establishment to finance such a study.
  • There is no way to patent bee venom as an agent (it is widely available from mother-nature) and therefore it holds no interest for potential investors or investigators.

Most of the evidence accumulated is composed of uncontrolled case reports, case studies or clinical observations.  Therefore, consumers must weigh the pros and cons and make up their own minds as to whether or not to use bee venom.

Active research on bee venom is currently being conducted in the Far East, particularly South Korea, China and Japan.  Some of their research is available in English.  Control studies are needed to help multiple patients with chronic conditions looking for alternatives in their treatment.

Where can you  find more information about bee venom?

History and use of beehive products:

 

Honeybee products have been used for thousands of years.  Drawings on Egyptian Temples built about 2400 B.C. depict bee-keeping and honey preparation.  Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, prescribed honey extensively and successfully for many diseases.  Galen, the great Roman physician, considered honey to be an all-purpose remedy. Aztec and Mayan hieroglyphic carvings are full of symbols of bees, honeycombs and pollen.

In ancient Greece, Alexander the Great used bee sting therapy.  The 8th century conqueror Charlemagne was cured of gout by using bee stings. In the late 1800’s, Phillip Terc treated thousands of arthritic patients for 40 years with bee stings and claimed a cure rate higher than 80%.

Today, honeybee products are being used and studied all over the world.   Honey is the best known product.  Less known in the U.S. are other bee products such as bee venom, royal jelly, propolis and bee pollen. These products are widely used in Russia, Europe, Japan, China, Korea and other countries for their unique healing qualities.  I will briefly discuss these wonderful products and provide you with links for additional information.

The life of a bee:

The life of a bee is mysterious and fascinating.  A bee family (known as a colony) functions like a single organism.  Each bee in the family is like a cell that has its own distinct function that changes as the bee matures.  It is not the individual bee but the colony that matters most.

The queen bee and the worker bee are conceived from the same eggs; the differentiation occurs from nutrition.  The queen bee is fed royal jelly (honey bee milk) during all 16 days of maturation and later during her period of laying eggs.  On the other hand, the worker bee is fed royal jelly 3 days out of the 21 days required for her maturation.

After her birth, the queen bee takes a lonely trip to a special breeding place where she is fertilized by 6-7 drones (male bees) who subsequently die after fertilization takes place.  The queen bee works tirelessly, laying over 2000 eggs every day.  She is constantly surrounded by young worker bees that feed her with royal jelly.  A queen bee is in charge of laying eggs and guiding and directing the functions of the colony through her production of pheromones and possibly through the use of her own energetic field.  Her presence and energy are essential for the well-being of the whole family.  If she is removed, it is disaster for the family: worker bees stop collecting honey and discontinue defending or cleaning the hive.  They become absorbed in raising another queen.  Thanks to her special diet consisting primarily of royal jelly, the queen bee is three times bigger than the worker bee and lives for up to 6 years, which is 70-80 times longer than the lifespan of the “summer worker.”

Worker bees are all sisters and they live about 45 days.  While in a comb they are fed royal jelly for 3 days and then a mixture of honey and pollen mixed with special bee enzymes, called beebread.  They are very altruistic, fully devoted to the needs of the colony.  Their function is structured according to their age.  Initially they are responsible for cleaning the hive, taking care of their maturing sisters or serving the queen by feeding her royal jelly.  Later, they guard the hive and then collect pollen and nectar.  Bees have an incredible sense of space.  They can find their own hive from a distance of several miles.

Drones are produced from an unfertilized egg laid by a worker bee.  Their function is to fertilize a queen, usually from a different colony, and to maintain communication between colony members.  Drones “lucky” enough to make love to a queen bee will die immediately after the act.  In fact, their sexual organ and all the sperm is left in a special compartment of a queen.  Every spermatozoid will be used to inseminate a single egg of a queen.  There is no waste!  Drones spend their lives feeding on honey and pollen brought by the worker bees, but at the end of the summer if the family encounters a difficult time the drones are coldly eliminated.  The colony must conserve food and survive.

Beehive products:

 

Royal Jelly or Honeybee Milk

Thanks to the special qualities of royal jelly (an exclusive part of the queen bee’s diet) her life span is extended and she becomes extremely fertile and energetic.  Only very young worker bees (4-12 days old) can produce “honeybee milk”.  They usually surround the queen bee and feed her their milk.

Royal jelly has been used to treat many conditions: general metabolic diseases, hyper-lipidemia, arteriosclerosis, chronic kidney insufficiency, adrenal gland diseases, insufficiency of sexual hormones and menopause.  It has mythic qualities of extending life.

Royal jelly is contraindicated for acute bronchial asthma, Addison disease,  cancer in an acute phase, and allergy to any of its components.

Royal jelly is a very unstable substance.  It needs to be kept frozen or mixed with honey or propolis.

The Japanese have long appreciated royal jelly.  Every year they buy several tons of this magical substance from China, a major producer of royal jelly.

Bee Pollen

Honeybees collect microscopic grains of pollen from flowering plants and trees, pack them in their “collection baskets” on their legs and bring them to the hive to feed the young with protein rich natural food.  Bee pollen has all the essential amino acids and many vitamins and minerals.  It is a food of the highest quality and has multiple healing properties.  It can be an aphrodisiac, anti allergen, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-bacterial, anti-depressant, antioxidant and anti-toxin. It can also reduce high blood pressure and decrease stress. It can improve the functioning of the large intestine, stomach, thyroid and the immune system. It can also provide energy, produce a feeling of well being, increase red blood cell production and aid the prostate.

It should be started with a very small dose (a few grains), increasing gradually to 1-2 teaspoons per day.  It is best to mix bee pollen with honey for better absorption and preservation of healing qualities.

Propolis

 

Propolis used by bees to protect a colony from intruding parasites and microorganisms and to secure the hive.  Propolis is a resinous material of a waxy consistency, collected by bees from buds and the bark of trees.

Propolis has numerous healing properties: it is antibacterial, anti-allergic, antidepressant, anti-hemorrhage, anti-herpetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-edema, anti-oxidant, antiseptic, anti-stress, anti-viral, anti-tumor. It can diminish the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.  It act sas an immune-stimulant and local anesthetic,  protects the body against radiation, and stimulates tissue regeneration among many other functions.

Propolis is used in multiple medical disciplines and folk medicine.  It is contraindicated for those who are allergic to it and people with low blood pressure.  It is used internally as a tincture, syrup or a solid and externally in the form of drops, creams, shampoo, toothpaste or other forms.

Before using any of the above-mentioned products consult your treatment provider.