Wild ways to get well: From deer antlers for arthritis to bee venom for cancer, the hidden power of the animal kingdom
By Angela Epstein, Daily Mail (UK), 6/15/2010
It sounds like something out of Harry Potter's spell book - animals with the ability to cure human ailments. In fact, the healing powers of a wide range of creatures are being harnessed in a range of health products and research, as Angela Epsteim reports.
USED FOR: Allergy, cancer.
HOW IT WORKS: Bee venom, along with wasp venom, is used to treat hay fever. The technique, known as immunotherapy, involves repeated doses of bee or wasp venom, grass pollen or extract of dust mite to build up the patient's tolerance.
The injections are given over a five-year period and usually stop your insect allergy symptoms completely with long-term protection. The treatment is widely used in the rest of Europe, though only privately in the UK.
Bee venom may also be engineered to target tumours and could prove an effective future treatment for cancer. In a trial at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, melittin, the poisonous chemical in a bee's sting, was attached to tiny molecules or 'nanoparticles'.
These, in turn, attacked and destroyed cancer cells, leaving healthy cells intact. In addition, the carrier particles, dubbed 'nanobees', were effective in targeting pre-cancerous cells.
PRODUCTS: Allermin, an allergy product containing a combination of pollen and bee venom to desensitise people prone to hay fever, £8.40, www.thehoneydoctor.com