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Bee Venom Therapy treats a swarm of maladies.

by Michael Braunstein


The Buzz About BVT

BVT is as sbimple as it sounds. A practitioner allows honeybees to sting the patient, typically 20 stings, three times a week; though patients are started off with just a few stings to get used to it. Patients can learn to self-administer the treatments, just as a diabetic learns to deliver insulin.

There are two major potential side-effects. The greatest consideration is with a person who has a bee sting allergy. A simple one-sting test can evaluate their sensitivity.

The American Apitherapy Society has noted that the number of serious allergic reactions to bee stings is very, very low. Most of the time, reactions are to wasps or hornets which are decidedly not honeybees, though people often confuse them.

The other major side-effect is, of course, the ouch! of a bee sting! The easiest remedy for that is some ice on the area of the sting, both before and after.


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To most of us, the idea of being stung by a bee is a summertime image of sharp pain, red swelling and an immediate sense of semi-panic, fearing that there are more stings to come. Certainly a bee sting would not be something we would write on our calendar and look forward to. It might be a surprise to know, then, that thousands of people worldwide and in the USA are visiting medical and lay practitioners to be stung over sixty stings a week! And the reason they look forward to it is because of the relief they get from Bee Venom Therapy (BVT).

Honeybees have a special place in the insect world. It is an insect, yes, a "bug"; but respected, domesticated and highly prized. The social organization of the hive has been studied and admired. Their navigational systems and communication protocols are held in high regard by NASA scientists. And now, to its credit, a portion of the Western medical fraternity is beginning to realize that all the knowledge of healing was not written in just the last 50 years!

A bee farm is known as an "apiary" and using products of the honeybee for healing purposes is known as "apitherapy." 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 BVT. 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.

Be well.

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Michael Braunstein is Executive Director of Heartland Healing and certified by the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners in clinical hypnotherapy. He graduated from the Los Angeles Hypnotism Training Institute and was an instructor at the UCLA Extension University for 11 years.

Heartland Healing is devoted to the examination of various alternative forms of healing. It is provided as a source of information and not as medical advice. It is not meant as an endorsement of any particular therapy, either by the writer or by Heartland Healing Center, Inc.

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