The Scranton Times Tribune, 12/28/2009
Q: I have had multiple sclerosis since I was in my late 20s. I'm now in my early 50s and have been in remission for a while.
What can you tell me about MS and bee stings? I got stung a couple of days ago, and I started walking much better and feeling perkier. I have energy that I haven't had in years. One of my daughters told me about bee-sting therapy.
A: The medical use of honeybee products is known as apitherapy. Bees have played a role in alternative health care since the Egyptians used their byproducts to cure arthritis. Those byproducts have since been used to treat chronic pain, a number of skin conditions, burns of the skin, coughs and a great deal more.
Researchers have found that specific compounds in the venom, namely melittin and adolapin, can work toward reducing pain and inflammation through a process that allows the body to release natural healing compounds in its own defense. It is rumored that thousands of multiple sclerosis patients in the United States appear to be using bee venom as an alternative to interferon, corticosteroids and other drugs. I don't know how so many have tapped into this approach, because there are only about 50 physicians nationwide who use bee-venom therapy to relieve symptoms of MS.
There certainly is a great deal to be said about alternative approaches to almost any condition. In this instance, though, there is always the risk of potentially life-threatening allergic reactions, so any undertaking should be under the strict guidance of a qualified physician.
Your daughter is cutting edge on the information circuit. Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., has begun a preliminary one-year study funded by the Multiple Sclerosis Association to research apitherapy as a potential treatment. I don't know whether any clinical trials are under way, but you might want to follow that road to determine whether you meet their guidelines…