Bee Venom Therapy (BVT) …. is it a sting too far?

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!

Bee Venom Therapy

Bee Venom Therapy

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.

Bees don't get arthritis

Bees don't get arthritis

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’.

Health and the Honey Bee

Health and the Honey Bee

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.

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11 responses to this post.

  1. This is a really interesting topic. I think a lot more research needs to be done (about bee stings, pollen, honey, wax, all products of the hive in general) but very interesting to follow the story here.

    Reply

  2. Hi Emma, thanks for your comment – in the time that I have been keeping bees I have definitely come to view the hive as a medicine chest as you start to understand the massive healing potential of virtually all the products that the bees make. I also agree that there is a huge amount of research that could be carried out in gaining greater understanding of the health benefits of the bee products but unfortunately most ‘serious’ drug research in the UK is funded by the pharmaceutical industry who also produce and market the synthetic steroids and other drugs so there is no commercial interest in them doing so. During the 1970’s Germany’s largest apiarist was a drug firm called Mack that had 1300 hives and produced a venom ointment called Forapin, I am sure that we will see more ‘bee based’ products being developed in the future.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Suzanne on April 19, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Hello. Can you please post your email address because i would like to email personally to your wife as I have suffered from RA for 4 years and just recently started using BVT, it works!!! I am 30. If you don’t mind, I would love to ask some questions etc..thank you Suzanne

    Reply

    • Hi Suzanne, many thanks for your comments and glad that you have had a positive result with the BVT – you can direct mail on danieljmarsh@gmail.com

      Reply

    • Posted by Roxie on December 15, 2015 at 11:08 pm

      My daughter has been stinging for three months for treating her lyme disease and has noticed so much improvement. More energy and sleeps better and some of her symptom are slowly disappearing. She has quite a ways to go, but it looks so very promising!

      Reply

  4. Posted by Nekai on July 3, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    I started using BVT in 1995 – I was lucky enough to know someone who had studied Chinese medicine in China for many years and who know of its widespread use there for RA and many other conditions. I was also lucky enough to live 3 hours away from Charles Mraz who gave me my first stings.
    I went from being unable to balance or walk to an almost complete remission of MS symptoms in about 6 weeks and have been in pretty good shape ever since.
    Kudos to you for being so brave to take it on alone – and for being so thoughtful, and recognizing you have to be well prepared before starting.
    The first month can be real challenge, with big topical reactions, some flue-like symptoms, and even hives or other allergic symptoms. It was scary and I thought I was crazy to keep going but after the first month all that went away. Now the reactions are small and stings don’t even hurt longer than 8-12 hours. The results made everything I went through worth it!
    Best of luck to you and your wife!

    Reply

  5. Posted by Nekai on July 3, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    PS — a lot of research has been done and is being done into BVT. National MS Society has funding clinical research. Check America Apitherapy Society website for more info.

    Reply

  6. […] Bee Venom Therapy (BVT) …. is it a sting too far? […]

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  7. Posted by Chloe on July 10, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Hi Daniel,
    I have to agree with the others – fab husband and really appreciate that you are helping by informing people and providing a forum!
    Have you worked out what subsequently made your wife ill yet?
    I was diagnosed with RA at 30 and have been taking MTX for 3 years but been looking for a REAL cure the whole time (ideally homeopathic – but let’s face it we’d probably all take anything when we’re desperate)!
    I am a teacher but it got so bad I couldn’t work, didn’t want to sign on and take disability so we bought a boat and are sailing around the world before I’m totally crippled ! Well that was the plan anyway, but I can’t even do that and now due to RA and hurricane season were stuck in the Dominican Republic until November!
    So the other day I was on the motorbike and got stung by a bee – incidentally right on my most painful knuckle – and felt instantly better…so then I googled it and hey presto : it’s been around since the year dot!…how come Hippocartes knows more than any of our modern doctors and specialists, I ask myself?!?! After waiting over a year for my 2nd appointment with my uk specialist he said ‘you seem have some SLE mixed in with your RA’ and I was like ‘wtf?!, you told me I had RA’! The RA association is also about as much use as a Brazilian football team – when I told them I wanted some natural therapy and was persuing acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine they said ‘duh, of course the doctors would prescribe that if it actually worked’ but now I realise that the doctors – and I’ve seen every one of them in my local surgery, as well as several ‘specialists’ and found them all totally unsupportive – even ridiculing me for persuing ‘anecdotal’ or ‘old wives tales’ because I told them how much diet and raw cider vinegar was helping me 2 yrs ago and I wanted them to recommend it to other patients so that they didn’t have to do so much research like I had to. For anyone out there just been diagnosed and having their first freak out whilst desperately searching the Internet, I have been a veggie for 8 years, didnt really drink, done yoga for 12 years and am naturally skinny, so I already had an advantage on the detox side of things (these things should be your first priority but my case proves that it’s not only obese, carnivorous alcoholics who get RA, nor is it necessarily hereditary, so don’t feel bad about yourself)…the first and only homeopathic thing which REALLY worked before I discovered BVT was raw cider vinegar (with the mother), which alkalises your stomach – drink it BEFORE FOOD – I had about a shot with hot water, raw ginger and honey to take away the taste (yuk!) and always chucked some on salad. I stopped eating spicy food but added turmeric to everything (pretty alright with baked beans). Tried acupuncture on numerous occasions but it never did a thing although my mum swears by it!
    I am a v spontaneous person, so after (sadly too-little research on BVT), I found a honey bee hive and started stinging myself…I had my 3rd session of 3 stings yesterday and last night I had a terrible fever, my period (I guess?!) started, bitter taste in my mouth and head-exploding pain…today I’m back to normal. I am in the DR and disease is pretty rife here, so I don’t know if it’s the bee venom reaction or something else (hoping the former). The quick recovery makes me think it must be a BVT reaction but I’d like to hear about reactions other people have had??
    Unfortunately, the only book I can get hold of on kindle is Beck’s ‘Bible of BVT’ and according to him, this reaction’s pretty ‘normal’ (although he says ‘high temperature’, not fever which is what it felt like although no thermometer )…I just wondered if anyone else has experienced this reaction and if that means I have already had my first ‘reactive phase’ after just 6 stings???
    Could anybody surmise the study of any of the other apitherapists for me please as I just cannot get hold of these books as no reliable mailing address here! I would especially like to know about the prescribed doseage, intervals, time, particular areas to sting (focal or Meridien for example)?
    Beck’s book is old and quite honestly for me it was painful to read so in an effort to help, perhaps I can surmise his recommendaions for you all:
    He reckons it’s mostly about anemia, bad circulation, Uric and lactic acid in the case of RA so (those not eating red meat) you need spinach, beans, etc, cold showers after exercise and do things which get your blood moving!
    He states diabetics don’t usually respond well to treatment and that avoiding ALL ALCOHOL (even putting it on your skin, such as mosquito spray), sugar and NSAIDs is also a major plus to therapy. Personally I am replacing sugar with copious amounts of honey and using citronella spray – anyone know if that’s detrimental to BVT or not?
    My understanding of his process and recommendation for RA is :
    You start with one sting to test for allergies, general reaction, etc. Then progress number of stings every day (ie day 1:1 or 2 stings, day 2:2 stings etc) ‘MAKING HASTE SLOWLY’ up to 10 stings, then after 3 sessions of 10 stings, double it to 20 stings(!), then 21,22,23 to 30. Of course he states that each case is unique and treatment responds accordingly, so it’s up to each of us how we do it. He also states that you will at first have no real reaction and hardly notice the stings (true for me) but that then you will have an ‘all hell breaks loose reaction’(perhaps that which I had the other day?), which supposedly means it’s working, but that you have to persevere with the treatment until you have a ‘healthy person’s reaction’ (ie swelling, pain, itch) and then continue on until you have a mild reaction or decreased sensitivity to the stings again…THEN (this is the worst bit) REPEAT THE WHOLE PROCESS 2-3 times until you have total immunity to bee stings, which is the ultimate goal and in theory means you are cured of Ra!
    As I only have one book from 1930s available to me, I would really appreciate you giving me some pointers on other theories, recommendations and guidelines here as I am kind of stranded on my own out here doing self-BVT! I’d especially like to hear the courses you are self-prescribing, what Charles mraz recommended (in a nutshell) and how you personally know when to increase/decrease/stop/take a rain check, etc?!
    Now he was using injectable venom so could change the potency of the solution etc but I guess most of us use live bees. How are you all managing the bees? I have a place I can get them but I have to physically do it and it’s scary and stressful – any tips on how to get them in a jar, keep them fresh and happy and perhaps get them to calm down a bit before you open the jar and get the tweezers out??? As a veggie, i feel bad about killing all these bees but needs must! Is there a way to do this without killing the bees (but also without keeping them in a lab environment and turning the venom into a pill???)
    Any help, advice or encouragement would be much appreciated! Thank you in advance and I wish you all the best of luck in your quest!

    Reply

  8. Hi Chloe,

    thank you for your email and apologies that it has taken me a little while to get back to you, it certainly sounds like you have had a rough deal and I hope that I can offer some help.

    Firstly you do need to be careful and although I can tell you what we have done I cannot endorse it for anyone else, having said that I really hope it can help you. Make sure that if you are administering bee venom that you are not alone, you have access to antihistamine (or an epipen) and can get to advanced medical help if required. You may be fine with bee venom for a number of years and then suddenly have an adverse reaction, always look for the signs and if in doubt seek medical attention sooner rather than later.

    The honeygar (honey and cider vinegar) is well documented for RA relief and many people swear by it , we also tried Manuka honey with bee venom (purchased online from New Zealand) but this didn’t really help my wife which is why we embarked on the BVT. The BVT was used in conjunction with full detox, dietary changes, acupuncture, increased excersise and regular chiropractic care. Alcohol can neutralise the effect of bee venom and should be avoided during and after the sessions, this also increses the risk of anaphylatic reaction.

    The most useful book on the BVT that I read was Charles Mraz – Health and the Honeybee – I purchased a copy from ‘Bees for Development’ – they no longer advertise it on their website but it may be worth contacting them to see if they have any copies left http://www.beesfordevelopment.org/

    We started each season with test stings to make sure that there was not an adverse reaction, then we would increase the dose. As a beekeeper I only attend the hives every 10 days or so and that set the frequency for the sessions. If you Google or YouTube for bee venom therapy you will see clinics in China that administer a much higher and more frequent dose but I cannot speak from our experience about this.

    We aimed for around 12 stings per session, these were administered directly to the joints that were inflamed and causing the greatest discomfort. The bees are ‘clamped’ in reverse tweezers and placed on the joint in order to cause them to sting, more do willingly.

    I collect the bees during my hive inspections so am wearing full bee protection (bee suit/veil), I have a jar set up with some small twigs for the bees to cluster on and a lid pre-drilled with air holes. I brush bees from the top board of the hive into the jar then try and keep them cool and shaded so as not to over-stress them. If you have agitated bees in a jar it can be quite distracting for your assistant when removing them for the stinging so a 10 minute spell in a the fridge tends to calm them right down and makes them more placid. Some clinics release bees into a room with a window as the bees will head for the light and then you pick them off the window with your reverse tweezers but we didn’t try that.

    My wife went into full remission with the RA factors disappearing, of course the medical specialists and rheumatologists do not accept that it has anything to do with the bees. They are funded by the pharmaceutical companies who believe the only relief comes through drugs and there is no cure.

    I wish you the best of luck with your own journey and hope that it leads you back to full health.
    Regards

    Daniel

    Reply

  9. Bee sting therapy helped me a great deal. It is worth a try for sure. http://beehabitat.com/bee-stings-good-for-your-health/

    Reply

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