This is my first post about Bee Venom Therapy (BVT) and is really just an introduction to my experiences over the last two years .. so I guess we had better start at the beginning and explain what BVT actually is, then why I have been exploring its potential and finally I would like to share a little of what I have been doing with it and the results so far. This really is a work in progress and will probably extend over several posts, maybe even several years.
So what is Bee Venom Therapy (BVT)? Well you can Google it and you will find lots of interesting answers, or even better you can type it into YouTube and watch the bees in action!
BVT, or sometimes just referred to as Apitherapy, is the use of bee venom to treat medical conditions. It has been used since ancient times to treat a whole host of conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism, diabetes, muscular pain, gout, skin conditions and more recently it is being used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, Lyme disease and chronic fatigue syndrome. It is likely that BVT was the original acupuncture, delivering raw bee venom to the point of treatment.
It is a widely established practice in Asia with many specialist BVT clinics and it was actually legalised in China in 2007 despite having been used there for centuries!
Bee venom is a rich source of enzymes, peptides and biogenic amines. There are at least 18 active components in the venom which have some pharmaceutical properties. Bee venom also contains melittin, a peptide made up of amino acids that functions as an anti-inflammatory. Bee venom therapy functions by cutting down inflammation, improving your blood circulation and bolstering your immune system and additionally contributing to increased cortisol production.
The live bees are stimulated to inject the venom directly into to the affected area, trigger points or acupuncture points and after an initial test to make sure that the patient does not have an allergy to bee venom the number, frequency and location of stings is very dependant on the illness being treated.
So if you are still with me and haven’t moved onto a search for witch doctors or yoghurt weavers you may be thinking ‘well that’s all fine, there are a lot of questionable alternative therapies out there but why am I harking on about it now?’
I took up beekeeping in 2009 due to the publicity surrounding colony collapse disorder and global honey bee decline – if the reports are to be believed then there will be real issues for future generations regarding food security with an expanding global population.
My wife was then diagnosed with early symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) in 2010 and was experiencing a lot of pain and discomfort in certain joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease where your immune system, which usually fights infection, instead attacks the cells that line your joints, making them swollen, stiff and painful. Over time, this may damage the joint, the cartilage and surrounding bone.
There were days when she struggled to walk up and down the stairs and found the buttons on the children’s clothing nearly impossible. She was referred to the NHS rheumatologist by the GP but she also sought the advice of a nutritionist, who recommended a strict detox diet, and also underwent a course of acupuncture.
I had heard of bee venom being used to treat the symptoms of RA and started doing some research on the internet, always treating claims of miracle cures with a pinch of salt. I talked with my wife about the possibilities and watched the terror in her face at the thought of being stung multiple times and we decided to trial introducing ‘Manuka honey with bee venom’ into her diet to start with.
My reading also lead me to purchase two books that were occasionally mentioned, firstly ‘Bees don’t get arthritis – The healing powers of bee stings, honey, pollen and propolis’ by Fred Malone and then later ‘Health and the honeybee’ by Charles Mraz. Both books were excellent in giving guidance on how to actually start the BVT and I had a willing victim. I also read articles by Bodog Beck who was responsible for writing ‘The bible of bee venom therapy’.
BVT is not something that you enter into without a lot of care, thought and consideration but the alternative is a lifetime of taking synthetic steroids with a whole host of nasty side effects and certainly not what you want to hear when you are only 36….
We decided to start a course of treatment using the bees from early 2011 once the regular hive inspections were taking place and there was a good flow of pollen into the hives so the venom would be potent. This will be the subject of my next post.