Medicinal Uses of Bee Venom
Most people associate bees with honey or pollen. But another bee product—bee venom—is used to treat certain illnesses. We all know about the medicinal effects of bee honey. Indeed, tea with honey has long been a remedy of choice for sore throats. And some nutritionists consider bee pollen to be a near perfect source of protein. Bee venom, however, is looked upon with some trepidation, which is not surprising, given that most people's only experience is via a painful bee sting. For thousands of years, though, the medicinal benefits of bee venom have been touted throughout the world. And while these medicinal effects have yet to be scientifically proven, the use of bee venom to treat various ailments (called apitherapy) is actively being studied.
Ancient Medicinal UsesThe medicinal use of bee venom apparently dates back to ancient Egypt and is reported in the history of Europe and Asia. Hippocrates used bee venom to treat joint pain and arthritis. In more modern times, interest in the effects of bee venom was renewed in the 1888 with the publication of a clinical study conducted in Europe on its effect on rheumatism. Since then, interest in bee venom treatment has ebbed and flowed.
Current Medicinal ClaimsWith the increasing advent and acceptance of natural medicines, interest in the therapeutic value of bee venom has grown. However, there is conflicting evidence that bee venom is a useful therapy. For example, a small, randomized trial did not show any effectiveness for bee venom in the treatment of multiple sclerosis. But, a review of studies did find that the venom may show some promise as an arthritis treatment. Despite these contradictory findings, there are numerous conditions that bee venom has been proposed to treat, such as:
- Chronic injuries, such as bursitis and tendonitis
- Hay fever
- Removal of scar tissue