Friday, September 24, 2010

Research Transforms Deadly Bee Venom Into Helpful Medicine

By Sophia Porrino, Cornell Daily Sun, 9/22/2010

Bee venom: helpful?

Although bee venom is potentially fatal, its components may prove helpful in enhancing memory consolidation and in restoring smooth muscle movement in Parkinson’s patients. In addition, apitherapy antidotes have also been suggested for multiple sclerosis, arthritis, bursitis, and tendinitis, among other diseases.

If apitoxin were a cosmopolitan, apamin would be the lime juice, as it is the key ingredient that puts the bite into bee venom. Yet, this same kick may endow bee venom with its therapeutic benefits.

Research suggests that small doses of apamin can affect memory. Rats exhibited improved memory consolidation and retrieval skills 24 hours after injection.

The researchers theorized that bee venom could be used to synthetically modify erroneous dopamine levels for people suffering from Parksinson’s. Dopamine comprises 1.5 percent of apitoxin and is a neurotransmitter found in the human brain. Researchers hoped that treatment with bee venom could eliminate the adverse side effects of conventional anti-Parkinsonian medication, such as L-DOPA, which often include hypotension, arrhythmias, nausea, gastrointestinal bleeding, and disturbed respiration.

Although bee venom has noticeable effects on memory improvement, no definitive studies demonstrate improvement in Parkinson’s symptoms.

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