By Kristen Fountain, Valley News (USA), 7/6/2009
A phone call in May from a friend in pain drew Reyah Carlson back to the Upper Valley. The next day she left her home in Connecticut and has not looked back.
Carlson's friend, Mary Gilbert of Bradford, Vt., suffers from lupus, a chronic immune system disorder. For several years, the joint inflammation caused by the disease would flare up for a few days and then go away. But by the time she called Carlson, that pattern had changed for the worse.
“I was in chronic flare,” said Gilbert, 45. “You get to a place with the pain where you just can't get on top of it.”
Since receiving a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis around seven years ago, Carlson, who is 51, has been using the stings of live honeybees to treat MS, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions. Her own health has improved dramatically, and she has seen high rates of success among the roughly 2,000 people who have sought her help in places where she previously lived in California, Missouri and Indiana, she said.
“Most people say they wish they had done it earlier,” Carlson said. “It's like a last ditch effort.”
Bee venom therapy, also called apitherapy, is considered an unproven, alternative treatment in the United States, though the practice has a long history in the folk medicines of Asia and Eastern Europe and is offered in medical settings in Korea, China, Russia and Ukraine.
Analyses of honeybee venom have shown it contains the chemicals melittin and apamine, both of which are known to have anti-inflammatory properties.
“There is certainly some biological mechanism behind it,” said Robert Zurier, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He authored a 1973 study that found that arthritis did not worsen in a group rats given skin injections of bee venom, while it did in a group treated with saline. The venom appears to act by stimulating the adrenal gland to increase the body's natural production of corticosteroids, he said…
Carlson first learned about apitherapy while living and keeping bees in Vershire in the late 1980s. A local man, who was being treated for MS by the late Middlebury, Vt., beekeeper and bee venom apostle Charles Mraz, asked her to help him set up a hive on his property.
Mraz, Carlson and other practitioners also promote other honeybee products including propolis, beeswax and royal jelly, which they say have healthful properties that can help fight infections or reduce the side effects of chemotherapy, to name just a few…
Another form of apitherapy, called hoshindo, removes stingers from the bees prior to treatment and applies them manually along the body's meridian lines according to traditional acupuncture…