Venom from bee stings could help to treat and even prevent arthritis, new research has suggested.
By Richard Gray, Telegraph (UK), 6/27/2010
Scientists have found that bee venom can control the harmful inflammation in joints that leads to rheumatoid arthritis.
They have shown the venom contains molecules that cause an increase in natural hormones in the body that regulate inflammation.
It has raised hopes that bee venom can be used to develop new treatments that can help bring relief from the pain of arthritis and even prevent it from developing in the first place.
The findings helped to explain anecdotal reports of how patients who undergo bee sting therapy report improvement in their condition.
Dr Suzana Beatriz Veríssimo de Mello, an associate professor in rheumatology who led the research at the University of São Paulo, in Brazil, said bee venom caused increased levels of anti-inflammatory hormones called glucocorticoids.
She said: "Bee venom is a complex mixture of substances that are known to induce immune and allergic responses in humans.
"Nevertheless, bee venom has been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis for centuries. However, the placebo effect has been described in studies investigating bee venom anti-inflammatory properties in arthritic patients.
"Our data shows that bee venom prevents the development of induced arthritis in rabbits through the action of glucocorticoids."…