Bees Used for Natural Remedies
By Peter Watson, Nelson Mail (New Zealand), 6/22/2010
Being stung by a bee would have most people rushing for the medicine cabinet or even hospital in the event of a severe reaction.
But in Japan, China and many other countries there is a long history of using bee stings to treat rheumatism, arthritis and a range of other chronic ailments.
While New Zealand companies are producing honey and other products containing bee venom for medicinal purposes, few are using the direct sting from live bees. However, in a quiet rural property in Hope where he lives with his family, Yukiyasu Uda uses bee sting therapy to supplement his acupuncture practice, which he rather neatly calls apipuncture.
The technique involves delicately removing the stinger and venom sac from the bee using tweezers and then using it to briefly prick patients at pressure points much the way an acupuncture needle is used.
The theory is that the venom stimulates the adrenal gland to produce cortisol, a natural steroid hormone which helps reduce inflammation, eases pain and increases blood circulation.
The genial 61-year-old, who has a doctorate and is a member of the Japan Apitherapy Association, will explain his work and its benefits at the National Beekeepers Conference in Nelson on Sunday.
He has been practising bee sting therapy for 15 years since a doctor friend and his wife who were having trouble having children used it to successfully to start a family.
That sparked his interest and he studied and trained in the therapy which is used by beekeepers throughout Japan.
Until the last couple of years, he used to spend more than six months of the year in Japan where such treatments are more widely accepted.
In New Zealand, he concedes many people remain nervous about the risk of allergic reactions.
But he says honey bee venom is not as toxic as wasps' and he is careful to get people accustomed to tolerating it by either brushing them with it first or only stinging them for a couple of seconds so they don't feel strong pain and then slowly increasing the time the sting is left in. For children the sting is in only momentarily so they don't feel any pain.
He says most of his patients can move much more easily after treatment, saying it is also useful for those suffering from back ache, frozen shoulder, shingles, multiple sclerosis and menopause…