Bee sting therapy basically involves administering bee venom and this can be done through live bee stings or injections at certain points on the body. Since time immemorial people have been making use of the medicinal effects of bee honey. For instance, it’s the perfect home remedy for sore throats. Bee pollen on the other hand, is a great source of protein.
However, the topic regarding the health benefits of bee sting therapy is usually surrounded by skepticism considering people associate the bee stings with pain. For many years, the medicinal properties of bee venom have been touted in various countries across the world. This is what increased the interest for scientists to study the therapeutic value of bee venom.
What is bee venom?
The main component from the bee sting that has been a subject of research is the bee venom. When a bee feels threatened, it stings a target and releases a liquid. This liquid is basically colorless and acidic in nature. It is the bee venom.
Bee venom actually contains both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory compounds. Its components include enzymes, sugars, amino acids and minerals. One of the compounds is Melittin and it consists of 26 amino acids. This compound has been shown to possess some antiviral, antibacterial and even anticancer properties in some of the studies conducted. Though, the same compound is found to be what causes the pain that result from a bee sting.
Aside from that, bee venom contains the peptides apamin and adolapin. These are primarily the toxins but they have also shown some anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. As you can see, some of the compounds in bee venom have shown to possess medicinal properties. Scientific research is still ongoing to provide clear findings on the medicinal properties of bee venom.
How it’s used
You have probably heard one thing or two about bee sting therapy. It’s also called apitherapy which is medical practice that involves treating various ailments using bee venom and other bee products. The venom is used in several ways. It can be added to products such as supplements, serums and extracts. Bee venom injections are also administered by medical practitioners. In addition, bee venom is usually used in live bee acupuncture or otherwise known as bee sting therapy. During the treatment, live bees are placed on your skin and afterward a sting is induced.
Currently, there are ongoing scientific investigations on bee venom and its effectiveness on the treatment of the following conditions;
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
Actually, there is thought to be an immune-modulating effect on the body that comes from the bee sting. It is due to this response that bee venom is believed to have some therapeutic effects on certain conditions. These are mainly the conditions caused by an imbalanced immune response such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and eczema.
Potential health benefits of bee sting therapy
While bee sting therapy has shown some promising results, some of the research is either lacking or conflicting. There is more scientific research to be done but a few clinical trials indicate bee sting therapy might be an effective treatment for some of the health conditions.
One of the popular and well-documented benefits of bee venom is its potent anti-inflammatory properties. A good number of the components in the venom have shown positive effects in reducing inflammation. The main component melittin has some anti-inflammatory effects when it’s used in small doses. According to research, melittin suppresses the inflammatory pathways.
May work to reduce arthritis-related symptoms
The anti-inflammatory properties of bee venom have also shown promising effects on those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. This is basically a painful condition that results in inflammation on the joints. A study that employed at least 5 to 15 bee stings per day provided symptom relief for the arthritis patients.
May be beneficial to the skin
There are many skincare companies that have started including bee venom in their products such as serums and moisturizers. Bee venom is a great ingredient to include in beauty products because it reduces inflammation, reduces the appearance of wrinkles and provides antibacterial effects. For instance, a study consisting of mild to moderate acne in which the participants used serum containing bee venom twice showed an improvement in the acne.
Might be beneficial to immune health
Bee venom has also shown some beneficial effects on the immune cells. Clinical trials done on animals suggest bee venom therapy might help to reduce the symptoms of particular autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. It decreases inflammation and bolsters your immune response. Other animal studies also suggest bee venom can help in the treatment of allergic reactions like asthma. The studies indicate bee venom increases production of regulatory T cells hence inhibiting allergen response and ultimately reduces inflammation. Although this is promising, the impact bee venom therapy has in humans suffering from allergies is still unknown.
Lastly, bee venom is administered through shots to treat people who suffer from severe allergic reactions to bee stings. Research indicates it’s a safe treatment and it can effectively reduce the occurrence of severe reactions to bee stings in the future. It can be the first line of treatment to those allergic to the bee venom.
Apipuncture which is a form of acupuncture involves administering diluted bee venom to the acupuncture points. It is being explored as a treatment for pain. There is still room for more research on the effects of bee sting therapy on pain alleviation.
Precautions, side effects and potential downsides
Some people are allergic to bee stings and they can experience severe health complications as a result. In some situation, bee sting therapy can cause more harm than good. Its can trigger anaphylactic shock which is actually life threatening. For that reason, those allergic to bee stings should reconsider using this treatment.
There are also other side effects of the bee sting therapy including anxiety, insomnia, dizziness, change in blood pressure and to some extent heart palpitations. Due to the safety concerns and limited research, you should always consult your physician before deciding to take on the treatment.