Saturday, April 07, 2012
By Dr. Mark James, ND, Dynamic Living, Spring 2012
…My first patient to receive bee venom therapy was a 50-year-old woman who came in with a compliant of arthritis in her shoulder, without any previous trauma. She had only had the pain for a few weeks and she further revealed that she had experienced the same pain as a teenager, some 35 years previously. She explained that way back then she had been in a car and several wasps had entered through the air ducts while she was in the passenger seat. She received several stings by the wasps and shortly afterwards her shoulder pain was gone, not to return until now. Although I had not used Bee Venom Therapy (BVT) previously, I was certain that this was an excellent place to start. I had been trained in the procedure and so I suggested it to the ailing woman. She was interested and we began with the initial "test" injection.
Injectable bee venom is often used by doctors in a clinical setting although live bees are commonly used as well. The injectable venom is harvested from April to September to get the most potent venom. Harvesting of bee venom is done by placing a wire mesh - with a low-voltage current running through it - near the hive. When a bee comes in contact with the mesh, the bee stings it without losing its stinger and the venom remains. The venom is collected and standardized to an amount equivalent to a bee sting and bottled in a small vial, which contains 250 sting-equivalents. The bee venom is mixed, usually in equal parts, with procaine. It is then injected just under the surface of the skin, reproducing the depth of an actual bee sting. The procaine has the benefit of further reducing the already low risk of allergic reaction, but, just in case, an injection of epinephrine is kept nearby, if there were to be anaphylaxis. I have not needed this for patients nor have most practitioners required its use.
The test injection is given first to be sure that this patient won't have that rare adverse reaction. With my patient, she did fine in the 15-minute period of time after the injection so we completed the treatment with an additional three injections on the first visit. The woman returned two days later, as planned, to receive a second treatment. This would include two more stings, totaling six at this visit. Normally, at each visit, two to three times per week, two additional stings are given until twenty stings per visit is reached. This may not be necessary depending on how quickly the patient responds, but in most cases I come close to this number. But not so with this patient as it turned out…