Posts Tagged ‘bee venom’

Happy Christmas from the apiary


Well its coming to the end of 2014 and its been another fantastic beekeeping season, the apiary has expanded and its been a bumper year as far as honey production goes. I’ve started experimenting and using more wax for candle making on a hobby scale and am currently cleaning up the propolis that I have collected over the last few years and am hoping to start making some medicinal tinctures with this, possibly blended with echinacea, in 2015.

The first real frost of 2014 but it has warmed up again since...

The first real frost of 2014 but it has warmed up again since…

 

It’s just beginning to to get cold in the south east and hopefully the girls will stop flying soon, we are still waiting to apply our oxalic acid and will be moving the apiary site to a better location in the coming weeks.

The blog articles that have generated the most interest over the year continues to be my writing about using bee venom therapy (BVT) for treating rheumatoid arthritis and it has been a real joy to hear the really positive stories of other people who have felt inspired to try this after reading of our success and have themselves made real progress in overcoming this auto-immune disease. I hope that others looking for advice and information on this subject continue to find the blog and realise the the western drug route for controlling the pain is not the only option open to them.

DSCF0497_bw

Another highlight of my beekeeping year was my wife finally joining me at the hives now the children are slightly older and can entertain themselves whilst we attend the queen and her workers. I think that she was amazed at just how spiritual and humbling the whole experience is of opening up the hives, watching and listening to the bees communicating and absorbing all the associated scents of honey, wax and propolis. I’m looking forward to more joint visits in the sunshine as the 2015 season rolls out.

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my blog this year, there have been over 37, 000 visits at the time of writing this article. Please keep the comments, questions and feedback coming as it is always nice to hear from fellow keepers, wherever you are based in the world.

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year, keep an eye on your bees over the winter months and remember to give emergency feed if required and check the hives if we get a repeat of last years storms or any heavy snow.

Snow

I can also be found at @danieljmarsh on twitter or British Beekeepers page on Facebook.

Dan

Down at the apiary....

Down at the apiary…. December 2014

17 Effects of Anaphylaxis on the Body


I was recently contacted by a US based company who had read some of the blog where I talk about our experience of using BVT to ask me if I would share their infographic detailing the effects of anaphylaxis on the body.  This is an interactive chart allowing the reader to pick the side effect they want to learn more about.

17 Effects of Anaphylaxis on the Body

The Effects of Anaphylaxis on the Body

The Effects of Anaphylaxis on the Body

The Effects of Anaphylaxis on the Body

You may have a food intolerance or a minor allergic reaction to something you come into contact with, but that pales in comparison to anaphylaxis. Almost any substance can be an allergen, including foods and insect bites or stings. The cause can’t always be pinpointed. The first time you’re exposed to the substance, your immune system learns to recognize the foreign invader. In anaphylaxis, when you’re exposed again, your immune system has an exaggerated response that affects the whole body and may put your life in danger. Symptoms may begin within seconds and they can progress swiftly.

The first line of treatment is usually adrenaline, because it can turn things around quickly. Once you’ve experienced anaphylaxis, you’re always at risk, so you should take great caution to avoid the triggering substance. Your doctor will probably prescribe adrenaline in the form of a prefilled autoinjector that you can carry with you. If you need to use the autoinjector pen, you can inject yourself or have someone else do it for you. You should always seek medical help after using adrenaline. Symptoms sometimes return, but usually within a 72-hour period.

Immune System

Your immune system fights antigens like bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It learns to recognize these harmful substances and works to neutralize them. Once your immune system has come into contact with an antigen, it stores the information for future use. When it’s doing its job, you don’t get sick.

Sometimes, when you come into contact with that antigen again, your immune system overreacts, blowing the event out of proportion. Far too much histamine and other inflammatory chemicals are quickly released into your system. This causes a wide variety of problems that can have devastating results.

Adrenaline is a hormone produced naturally by your body. In anaphylaxis, an extra dose can help increase blood flow throughout your body and help reverse the immune system’s aggressive response.

Respiratory System

Inflammation in the respiratory system can cause the bronchial tissues to swell. Symptoms include shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. It can also cause fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) and cough. You may make high-pitched or wheezing sounds when you breathe. A feeling of tightening in the chest and chest pain are common. Respiratory distress is a life-threatening emergency requiring immediate medical attention. Untreated, it can lead to respiratory arrest. Patients with asthma are at particular risk.

Skin (Integumentary System)

One of the more obvious signs of anaphylaxis can be seen on the skin. It may start out as itchiness and redness, or just a mild warming of the skin. It can progress to welts, or hives that hurt when you touch them. If your respiratory system is in trouble, skin may turn blue from lack of oxygen. Pale skin means you’re going into shock.

Circulatory System

In anaphylaxis, small blood vessels (capillaries) begin to leak blood into your tissues. This can cause a sudden and dramatic drop in blood pressure. Other symptoms include rapid or weak pulse and heart palpitations. When major organs don’t get the blood and oxygen they need to perform, your body goes into anaphylactic shock. This is a life-threatening medical emergency. Untreated, you are at great risk of damage to internal organs or cardiac arrest.

Digestive System

Even if your reaction is usually mild, food allergies put you at increased risk of developing anaphylaxis. Digestive system symptoms include bloating, cramps, and abdominal pain. You may also have nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Central Nervous System

Even before the first physical symptoms occur, some people have a weird feeling – a sense that something bad is about to happen. Others describe a metallic taste in their mouth. Inflammation in the central nervous system can make you lightheaded or dizzy. Some people get a headache. There may be swelling of the eyes. The lips and tongue can swell enough to make it hard to talk. If the throat swells, it can block your airway. Anaphylaxis can cause mental confusion, anxiety, and weakness. Other symptoms include slurred speech, hoarse voice, and difficulty talking. As your body goes into shock, loss of consciousness occurs.

You can see the overview of the report and access the interactive graphics here

Bee venom must always be treated with the utmost respect, even if you are a seasoned keeper who has been stung on multiple occasions. Always make sure that you let someone else know that you are going to visit your bees and where they are, the time you expect to return, carry a mobile phone and any medication that you may require. If in any doubt following a sting alert the emergency services and wait for collection, the last thing they want is you causing a RTA when you pass out behind the wheel on the way to hospital!

I hope to keep adding to this blog as and when time allows in 2014, thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings your continuing comments and questions – this makes it all worth while for me as the writer….

I can also be found at @danieljmarsh on twitter or British Beekeepers page on Facebook.

Dan

Bee Venom Therapy – The Charlie Mraz Story


Bee Venom Therapy

Bee Venom Therapy

Having written a couple of articles about bee venom therapy (BVT) and sharing the experiences that my wife and I went through during the spring and summers of 2011 and 2012 to cure her rheumatoid arthritis I was really pleased to find this video on YouTube. It is an interview with Charles Mraz and although BVT has been around and used as a cure for thousands of years he is considered to be the modern godfather of this method and here he shares some of his knowledge and experience after literally treating thousands of people.

I have also previously recommended his book as one of the main texts that I read before we embarked on this treatment route. If you suffer from arthritis or Multiple sclerosis (MS)  and are thinking of doing this yourself I suggest that you too read this book, read my earlier posts, speak to your gp and take a few sensible precautions – bee venom can be vary dangerous if you have an adverse reaction so make sure that you are prepared, even if you have previously been stung by bees. Some beekeepers develop an allergy after many years of keeping bees so it is not a given that previous stings mean you are immune to anaphylaxis, please make sure you are not alone, that you have antihistamine, or even better an epi-pen, and can get to a hospital or medical center quickly if you need too!

Health and the Honey Bee

Health and the Honey Bee

I will keep adding to this blog as and when time allows in 2014 so feel free to subscribe if you would like an email to notify you of new posts, thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings your continuing comments and questions – this makes it all worth while for me as the writer….

I can also be found at @danieljmarsh on twitter or British Beekeepers page on Facebook.

Dan

Bee Venom Therapy – BBC Radio Kent interview


I have previously written about the Bee Venom Therapy that I carried out to try and cure my wife’s Rheumatoid Arthritis back in 2011 and 2012, if you didn’t read the two earlier articles I would strongly recommend doing so before listening to the attached radio interview from January 2014.

These articles can be found easily by clicking on the links below:

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

Bee Venom Therapy in action – does it really cure the pain?

Stings applied to joints on both hands

Stings applied to painful knuckle joints on both of my wife’s hands

In January 2014 my wife, Emma, was asked if she would go into the local BBC Radio Kent studio to take part in a live interview with Julia George on her morning show. Having suffered from aches and pains and swollen joints she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2010. Having overcome the illness through treatment she was happy, although a little nervous, to go along and chat about the experience of being stung by the bees and the outcome from the bee venom therapy.

Overall Emma had about 130 bee stings over the spring and summer months on each year – so totaling nearly 260 – and as a bee keeper who occasionally gets stung I know how painful it can be and am full of respect for her pursuing the BVT but then as you will hear in the interview the fear of a life controlled by drugs with some quite nasty potential side effects was enough for her to give the bees a  chance.

You can hear the whole radio interview (approximately 10 minutes) by clicking play below, however I should warn you that there is about 20 seconds of Boyzone on the audio before the interview begins!

 

 

I should also point that the BVT wasn’t carried out in isolation and formed part of a strategy to overcome the illness, other parts of this included nutritional changes, drinking Honeygar, acupuncture and increased exercise when her joints allowed.

Ultimately I hope that the earlier articles and this follow up radio interview will give others suffering from the symptoms of  arthritis some hope and help in your personal journey to find a drug free cure.

Bees don't get arthritis

Bees don’t get arthritis

I would love to hear what you think of the interview if you do take the time to listen…. feel free to leave a comment 🙂

I hope to keep adding to this blog as and when time allows in 2014, thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings your continuing comments and questions – this makes it all worth while for me as the writer….

I can also be found at @danieljmarsh on twitter or British Beekeepers page on Facebook.

Dan

Bee Venom Therapy in action – does it really cure the pain?


Following on from my previous post, titled Bee Venom Therapy (BVT) …. is it a sting too far?, I now want to write a little about the experiences that my wife and I had last year using bee venom to treat her rheumatoid arthritis (RA), if you have just stumbled across this post then I would strongly recommend that you read my previous article to gain some background and understanding of what BVT is and why we are doing this!

Having read Charles Mraz’s book we felt quite confident with the actual direct application of  venom at the target sites. We informally discussed the process that we were about to undertake with our GP so that he was aware, and although western medicine doesn’t really prescribe this sort of treatment I think he was both intrigued and entertained at the same time, however he was not dismissive having heard anecdotal stories of similar treatments in the past and has maintained an interest in the results since.

Before the main treatments began we borrowed an epipen (just in case of an emergency!), we then carried out a single ‘test sting’ on the hand to make sure that my wife didn’t have an allergy to bee venom, even though she had previously been stung we needed to make sure that an allergy hadn’t subsequently developed in the intervening years. This also gave a taster or reminder of the pain that would be experienced in the coming weeks and an opportunity for her to change her mind. This whole treatment had to be very patient led, so I did not push the sessions and let my wife decide where she felt she wanted the stings to be applied. Luckily as a chiropractor who also does dry needling she has a very good understanding of the bodies mechanisms and where the trigger points or target areas should be.

Bees in a jar

Bees waiting their 'turn to help'

The bees are collected into a jar during the normal hive checks and this also set the frequency that the BVT sessions took place, purely through convenience as my bees are located in an ‘out apiary’ (so not kept at home) and we didn’t want to disturb the colonies more than we already do (also bees don’t ‘store’ that well once bottled). The collection jar is just an empty  jar with air holes drilled in the lid and some foliage for supporting the bees as they struggle to grip on the glass sides. If they were being left overnight a little honey was also added although this is best avoided as even the bees get sticky.

When the bees are to be ‘used’ they are plucked from the jar using ‘reverse’ tweezers, sometimes called jewellery makers tweezers, that close shut when the finger pressure is released rather than open as in normal tweezers, this allowed me to clamp the bees ready for application of the sting.

Bee in 'reverse tweezers'

Bee held in 'reverse tweezers'

I can’t say that my wife really relished the thought of being stung numerous times, and although she had seen the minor effect it had on me during my previous seasons as a beekeeper she had also seen the slightly more entertaining and dramatic effect of the histamine production when I was stung on my top lip. With the ‘test sting’ being a resounding success we decided to push on with the BVT.

The bees were collected and stings applied on average every 10 days or so, we applied between 10 – 12 stings at each session. Normally this would involve 2 in each foot or on the ankles, 2 on each of the knees and two on each hand, anywhere on the knuckles but we varied this routine depending if one area was  particularly painful with the arthritis  prior to that session. The stings were left in place for anywhere between 2 and 10 minutes so that  full venom dose was received. When the stingers are removed it is important not to use an alcohol wipe on the sting site as this neutralises the effect of the venom. Unfortunately the bee dies after they have used their sting and they also release a pheromone so the dying bees were removed from the immediate area as the BVT sessions took place outdoors and we didn’t want attract any extra non-participants into the area.  A few bees flying around your head when you are not behind a veil can be very off-putting!

Stings applied to joints on both hands

Stings applied to the knuckle joints on both hands

By the end of the 2011 season my wife had been stung 129 times, so you must now be thinking that she is either a very brave or possibly a slightly mad women, but if you had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 35, if it was in your body and your joints, and you were told that the only answer that modern medicine had to offer was to spend the rest of your life taking a cocktail of anti-inflammatory and other drugs (with pretty unappealing side effects in their own right) then maybe you to would be willing to take the chance that an alternative cure could be found.

Well of course I know that that my wife is an intelligent, level-headed women and as I have previously stated we didn’t start this whole process without a lot of thought, research and planning, I guess it was just a case of weighing up the options available to us and the western medicine route felt a bit like giving up hope.

Sting swelling

Localised swelling shortly after applying the sting

The stings did exactly what it said on the (yellow and black) packet. They caused localised pain for a short period, followed by a slight redness and swelling at the sting site. Then as histamine is produced by the body the swelling spreads across a larger area of the body, often causing  large red swollen areas that last for several days.As the season progressed Emma definitely developed a tolerance to the venom, in the same way that beekeepers often do, and the effects of the venom became less visibly evident.  I think that the most discomfort was caused, not by the initial pain of the sting as one may have thought, but rather by the itching over the next few hours and sometimes days, particularly during the hotter days of the summer.

So was the BVT effective? 

When my wife was first diagnosed with the RA in 2010 she attended an appointment with an NHS rheumatologist. She had blood samples and x-rays taken to assess her current condition and the extent of any existing joint damage.

The early signs are that the RA is in remission but more importantly than that, having just had the autumn and winter period so dreaded by many RA sufferers as their symptoms worsen during this period my wife has not complained of, nor suffered from painfully swollen joints as she  had done during the previous year. So it looks like the BVT has gone some way into reducing both the swelling and pain, the thing we need to find out now is if it prevents damage to the joints or even reverses the process.

The subsequent visits to the rheumatologist has involved further x-rays and tests and although they feel that, against the odds, that Emma is definitely showing signs of remission they do not have much interest in the BVT or accept that it is a potential contributing factor. We will have to now wait until further tests are carried out in future months to see how the BVT is really working, but all the early signs are positive.

I should point out that during the period that the stings were applied my wife was also undergoing other treatments such as acupuncture and a cleansing diet (to me this was harsher than the stings!) so any remission may be attributable to a combination of these treatments. When we reached the end of the beekeeping season in 2011 my wife became concerned that with the bees being ‘away’ and no longer being stung that the symptoms would become worse again and she became quite worried about not being stung, a complete reverse of a few months earlier!

Over the last few weeks my wife has also started to take ‘honeygar’, a combination of honey, cider vinegar and a little water, as a medicine. This come highly recommended in Margaret Hills book ‘Curing arthritis the drug free way’ as well as having more modern day champions such as Ranulph Fiennes, who swears by it for his own arthritis control.

So what is the plan for the future?

As the new beekeeping season is about to begin in 2012, and the girls are out flying again, we will also be starting the next set of BVT sessions. This is my wife’s choice so it shows that she must feel that there was a strong enough benefit from last years BVT to subject herself to the pain and swelling again and hopefully we will continue to see the RA in remission. In the testimonials that I have read people are sometimes ‘cured’ after just a few treatments and others have a longer journey. I guess it is part dependant on the level of RA being treated in the  patient as well as other factors such as the level that their auto-immune system is functioning at.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this article, if you have any experience of BVT, either personally or anecdotal, or would like to make a comment I would love to hear from you. It is still early days for us but sharing this experience is important and maybe it can also be of help to others.

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.