By Fernando Quintero, Orlando Sentinel, 1/15/2010
Reyah Carlson has been stung by bees more than 25,000 times. On purpose.
Carlson is a practitioner of apitherapy, a controversial form of alternative medicine that uses bee venom to treat everything from arthritis to multiple sclerosis. She will be a featured speaker at the 2010 North American Beekeepers Conference being held in Orlando today.
Carlson, who lives in Vermont, has traveled the world to spread the word about bee venom therapy. She has also appeared in National Geographic and on the Discovery Channel.
"Apitherapy is not a new form of alternative therapy. It has been used in other countries for centuries," said Carlson, a.k.a "The Bee Lady."
Carlson, who had been fascinated by bees since early childhood, said she first began using bee stings for her Lyme Disease after being introduced to the treatment by a man she met when she was working as a nursing assistant in Vermont.
"When you break down the chemical components of bee venom, you'll find 40-something identifiable components," said Carlson, 51.
They include mellitin, which some studies suggest blocks inflammation and has been shown to have anti-arthritic effects in mice, according to a 2009 report published by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.
Carlson said bee venom can also bolster immunity and speed up the healing process.
"I don't claim cures," said Carlson. "In some cases, it's ongoing treatment for life. For many diseases including (multiple sclerosis) and lupus, it's a great way to keep things in check and under control. Drugs for these conditions have bad side effects for the liver and other parts of the body, that's why I and many other people have turned to apitherapy as an alternative."…