Worldwide, BEE VENOM THERAPY (BVT) is used as a treatment for conditions that involve inflammation, such as arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. BVT use is well recognized as a treatment in Europe but not in Australia. Recent research in Australia by the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation) into the major ingredient in bee venom, melittin, has shown promise in its use for killing cancer cells.
HISTORY. Bee venom therapy or BVT is a very ancient form of medicine; we know that it was used in ancient Mesopotamia as well as China. It was mainly used for the treatment of arthritis and joint pain. Austrian physician Phillip Terc initiated the modern study of bee venom and intentional bee stings when he published his article "report about a peculiar connection between bee stings and rheumatism" in 1888. Orthodox and alternate medicinal practitioners from ancient times onwards have used the venom of many different animals for healing various diseases. Bee venom was the most used type.
PHYSICAL. Bee venom is produced by the bee's special gland for its natural defence, but unlike many ; honeybees are not likely to sting unless provoked. The worker bee (female) defend their hive with their sting, they do this by pushing the tip of their sting into the surface of the intruder, then the venom pouch begins to contract rhythmically to pump the venom into the offender. Generally, the bee tears itself away leaving its venom pouch and sting behind. The bee will die from this action within an hour.
Bee venom is administered either by needle or by actual bee sting .
A bee sting is obtained by using special bee tweezers to remove a bee from a storage jar or hive and applying it to the part of the body that needs treatment. 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.
Bee being applied using special tweezers.
Some physicians 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. We have no knowledge of any health practitioner's that use bee venom therapy on Australia.
BEE VENOM COLLECTION from the hive.
All the existing types of electrical devices for bee venom collection have a common working element, a bee venom collection frame. It comprises of a solid frame with wire electrodes installed in parallel to each other mounted over a glass sheet. Electrical current goes through the wires in the form of pulses . A bee venom frame is mounted on the top of honey frames in a bee hive and then is connected to electric power. Bees that come into contact with the wires receive a mild electrical shock and then sting onto the glass sheet . The alarm odor, which evaporates from the venom, mobilizes and irritates other bees and they also start to sting on the frame. At completion of the collection, the electricity is switched off and the bees are shaken off from the removed bee venom frame back into the hive. The bee venom collected dries on the glass. The frames with the fresh dried bee venom on the glass are then taken to the laboratory for processing.
Scraped together bee venom on glass collecting plate.
Chemical studies show that venom contains a number of powerful anti-inflammatory substances, including adolapin and melittin. Said to be a hundred times more powerful than hydrocortisone, melittin stimulates the production of cortisol, a natural steroid that also acts as an anti-inflammatory. Not surprising, bee venom therapy is often used for conditions that involve inflammation, such as tendonitis, bursitis and arthritis. It can also be applied externally using a cream base, internally by eating bee venom mixed with honey or in tablet form using dried bee venom.
Bee venom consists of a large range of proteins (50%), emzymes and catecholamines. It is a multi-component complex containing about 30 biologically active compounds.
The complexity and composition of bee venom is related to the type of nectar and pollen that the bee collects from, the bees age and its species. The PH is slightly acidic: 5 to 5.5. The range of properties is enormous. Due to the very high biological activity of bee venom, it has multiple benifical effects.
The main action of Melittin (a peptide consisting of 26 amino acids) is its activity on the nervous system especially on the hypopysis- adrenal axis. It acts as a "blocker" of the nervous influx by the consequence of activation of the defense mechanism of the body. Soon after the pain threshold is reached, the inflammatory response is inhibited, then the pain diminishes.
Side effects of bee venom therapy are generally limited, since the inflammation, swelling, itching, etc. are desired effects.
HOW BEE VENOM WORKS. Bee venom peptides have systemic actions: anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-pyretic, stimulating ACTH, stimulating vascular permeability. The major peptide Melittin has powerful bacterial and cytotoxic properties, and stimulates the bodies adrenal and pituitary systems to produce cortisol and natural steroids. Naturally produced steriods do not produce the medical complications of synthetic steroids. Melittin is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, found to be up to one hundred times more effective than cortisone when administered at equivalent dosages (Billingham, 1973).
Melittin has been investigated in Australia by their peak scientific research section, the CSIRO. Melittin has the ability to slice through cell walls killing the cell. The CSIRO modified melittin to remove the part that causes a allergic reaction while maintaining its ability to kill cells. The next step is get melittin to target cancer cells only. They hope to achieve this by attaching the modified melittin to a antibody molecule that recognises cancer cells only. If this is successfull, it may help overcome the problems associated with the use of chemotherapy treatment.
BVT is part of a discipline of alternate healing using bee products which is called Apitherapy. BVT is particularly used in the treatment of various rheumatic conditions. A holistic approach using Apitherapy products can be taken, combining nutrition, vitamin supplements and minerals with exercise for treatment in various areas of healing.
Rheumatological - Tennis Elbow. Bursitis. Muscle pain. Fibromyalgia
Cardiovascular - Heart rhythm problems. Rheumatic heart disease
Endocrine. Mood Swings - Low blood sugar. Irregular periods. Stress
Immune System - Aids. Lupus.
Nervous System - Sciatica. Lumbago. Chronic pain. Post Herpitic neuralgia.
Dermatological - Corns. Eczema. Tropical ulcers.
The effects of BVT are extended by combining BVT with ginseng, glucosamine and propolis in a Manuka honey base.
This is not the way bee sting therapy is carried out.
It is illegal for registered Naturopaths in Australia to practice bee sting therapy.
The information on this page is provided as a guide only, it is not to be taken as medical advice. For serious conditions please consult your medical practitioner.