World J Hepatol, 2011 Oct 27;3(10):268-70
The use of bee venom as a therapeutic agent for the relief of joint pains dates back to Hippocrates, and references to the treatment can be found in ancient Egyptian and Greek medical writings as well. Also known as apitherapy, the technique is widely used in Eastern Europe, Asia, and South America. The beneficial effects of bee stings can be attributed to mellitinin, an anti-inflammatory agent, known to be hundred times stronger than cortisone.
Unfortunately, certain substances in the bee venom trigger allergic reactions which can be life threatening in a sensitized individual. Multiple stings are known to cause hemolysis, kidney injury, hepatotoxicity and myocardial infarction. The toxicity can be immediate or can manifest itself only weeks after the exposure.
We describe hepatotoxicity in a 35-year-old female, following bee sting therapy for multiple sclerosis. She presented to our clinic 3 wk after therapy with a history of progressive jaundice. The patient subsequently improved, and has been attending our clinic now for the last 9 mo.