Sunday, April 22, 2007

Apitherapy: Can Bee Stings and Honey Heal?

Georgie Binks, CBC (Canada), 4/3/2007

Apitherapy has been around since the early Egyptians used bee products for a variety of ailments, but in recent years, complementary medicine has been experimenting more with the potential benefits of honey, beeswax, royal jelly — and even bee venom delivered directly from the insect.

Many in the medical establishment are sceptical of claims of medical benefits from bee products, especially apitoxin (bee venom). However, apitherapy has quite a following in eastern Europe and the Far East, and enthusiasts say it is slowly gaining popularity in Canada. In fact, they've even designated World Apitherapy Day on March 30 — the birthday of Phillip Terc, a European physician who was born in 1844 and was the first scientific researcher to investigate the medical uses of apitoxin.

Annie van Alten — who lives north of Hamilton in Carlisle, Ont. — is one of the believers. She and her partner have been beekeepers for 26 years. As an apitherapist, she uses bee venom therapy to treat people suffering from arthritis or multiple sclerosis.

"When you have an inflammation, you use bee venom to get the blood flowing. It releases tension in the joints," she explained.

Van Alten administers bee stings to her family members and tried them out on herself when she suffered from severe arthritis…

University of Guelph entomology professor Gard Otis said he has seen people benefit from using bee venom, but warned of the dangers of allergic reactions.

Honey, on the other hand, got a much sweeter review. Otis said honey can be used quite effectively for wound dressings on burns and cuts.

"It creates a barrier on wounds," he said. "Something in it stimulates wound healing — it moisturizes and once the fluids mix with the wounds, one of the enzymes becomes active and breaks down the sugars and creates hydrogen peroxide."

The curative powers of honey depend on which plants bees have been visiting, which is never a sure thing…

No comments: