by Mihály Simics
Published in the Journal of the American Apitherapy Society, Fall 2000, Vol. 8, No. 3, pp. 15-16. Updated: January 05, 2005.
I often receive phone calls and e-mails from people asking me about the efficacy of different methods of applying bee venom. I am most frequently asked to compare the venom from live bees to an injectable venom solution. Many of my correspondents question the effectiveness of a standardized product, but have no reasons to back up their doubt.
Evaluating the efficacy of bee venom for a particular health condition is complex. What is right for one may be wrong for another, and each case must be evaluated individually. Some points to be considered are the nature of the illness, the attitude and nutritional protocol of the patient, the qualifications of the practitioner, the quality and quantity of available bee venom, and the method of administering the venom.
Most of the information available about this issue is from pre-1970s sources (Drs. Beck, Broadman, Schwab) when injectable venom was in the form of Whole Body Extract (WBE). In 1978 the FDA approved the use of whole dried bee venom for desensitization. By that time, a higher quality of venom was available for manufacturing of such products. One reason that dried venom replaced WBE was that WBE was not effective. This means that any literature about the effects of injectable bee venom that references work done before the early 1970s, even newly published literature that uses these works as resources, are using data based on solutions prepared from WBE, not the solutions available today. With the introduction of Whole Dried Bee Venom (WDBV) it became possible to prepare a standardized and superior product for bee venom therapy. This means that the product always contains the same quality and quantity of venom and is suitable for use in both scientific studies and in treatments.
A comparison of bee stings to injectable venom solutions must begin with the source of venom. Bees need pollen or protein rich nutrition to make good quality venom (Owen and Bridges, 1976; Owen, 1978). From spring to fall this is easily archived in an area with continuous flowering plants. However, in the late fall and winter, beekeepers tend to feed their bees with sugar syrup (carbohydrate) and not with pollen (protein); consequently, the quality of venom suffers (Autrum and Kneitz, 1959; Cruz-Landim et al, 1967). Whole dried bee venom is collected during the peak or just at the end of honey flow when the bees' venom sacs are full of quality venom (Abreu, et al, 2000), so this venom is of high quality when it is reconstituted.
The quality of the venom solution also depends upon the preparation method used. Evidence from MRIs show that a solution prepared from Grade I. venom (VeneX®) has the same effect on multiple sclerosis as venom from live bee stings. However, venom solutions (BV, BVS) prepared from Grade II. venom does not provide the same effectiveness on multiple sclerosis as bee stings from summer bees.
Below is a list of estimated-published effects of bee venom. Efficacy is determined by several factors. These are either approximate values or values that appear in published literature. The efficacy of the venom from a summer bee with a good quality pollen source is estimated at 100 percent. The administration method that also determines the efficacy of the therapy and the quantity of the venom received is not included in this data:
|Live bee (summer)||100%|
|Live bee (winter)||23-35%|
|Injection (Grade I.)||Up to 95%|
|Injection (Grade II.)||60-80%|
|Cream, liniment, ointment (Apireven, Apisarthron, VeneX® and ApiVenz only)||55-65%|
|Cream, liniment, ointment (all other brands or not researched)||25-50%|
|Bee venom and honey blend||Unknown|
|Tablets and capsules||Unknown|
|Oral drops or liquids||Unknown|
Bee venom in the form of direct bee stings has been used for centuries, and it has always been considered an easy and effective method of administration. In the past, beekeepers and apitherapists used it exclusively. This has changed as more and more people have begun to use bee venom therapy to control the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, and the community and skeptics now ask for studies and proof of efficacy.
Those who already benefit from bee sting therapy will find satisfactory proof of bee venom's efficacy in the article by Scott Wolland published in Bee Informed, the Journal of the American Apitherapy Society (Exciting Changes in MRI After Bee Venom Therapy [Winter, 1999/2000] Vol 6, No 4: pp. 1 & 5.). Those who want clinical studies of products that can be used in an office environment must continue waiting for proof from researchers, but dedicated users know that there is already proof.
It did not come from any well know university study, nor from a medical clinic, but from dedicated users who contacted me by mail and telephone. Their findings are the result of a two years of dedicated use of VeneX® combined with outstanding support from their families, proper nutrition, and other supporting therapies. The proof is in the MRIs of patients showing improved conditions after using bee venom therapy under controlled conditions in their own homes (Hauser, R., 1998; Hauser, R., et al., 2001; Leaches, Maggots and Bees - TLC Channel, 2000). Recently an MS patient informed me that when he showed his MRIs to his physician, the physician reacted by saying that it was the first time he had seen proof that an alternative therapy works.
Bee venom therapy in the treatment of multiple sclerosis can be an effective alternative to control the condition. The therapy can be carried out with venom from live bees or with an injectable solution, but must be accompanied with proper nutritional protocol and follow therapeutic guidelines. If the MRI brain scan is a reliable way of diagnosing multiple sclerosis, based on the MRIs of patients, venom from both live bees and injections produce the same results. Feedback from clients indicate the minimum benefit to a multiple sclerosis patient is the ability to maintain his or her condition at the onset of treatment (see Appendix).
It is unfortunate that the few studies funded by research institutes have ignored the advice of those who have worked for decades as apitherapists. As a result, the studies to date have been flawed because of easily avoided mistakes such as the use of old venom, venom overdose, and lack of proper protocol and patient support. Of course in these cases, bee venom therapy fails.
Do not be discouraged if you see or hear discouraging news that bee venom does not work in a certain clinical study. It may or may not the failure of bee venom, and if one day you decide not to wait any longer for official studies, you can start your own. Those who successfully use bee venom therapy already know the benefits. They also know that they are doing it right.
Abreu, R.M.M., Silva de Moreas, R.L.M., Malaspina, O. (2000) Histological Aspects and Protein Content of Apis mellifera L. Worker Venom Glands: the Effect of Electrical Shocks in Summer and Winter. J. Venom Anim. Toxins, Vol. 6, No. 1.
Autrum, H. and Kneitz, H. (1959) Die Giftsekretion in der Giftdruse der Honigbiene in Abhangigkeit vom Lebensalter. Biol. Zentralbl., 78:598-602
Beck, Bodog F., MD (1935) Bee Venom Therapy - Bee Venom, Its Nature, and Its Effect on Arthritic and Rheumatoid Conditions. D. Appleton-Century Co. Incorporated, New York and London, book
Broadman, Joseph, MD (1962) Bee Venom - The Natural Curative for Arthritis and Rheumatism. G. P. Putman's Sons, New York, NY, book
Cruz-Landim, C., Baldissera, S., Beig, D. (1967) Degeneracao da glandula de veneno de Apis durante o verao e inverno. Rev. Bras. Biol., 27:355-361
Hauser, R.A. MD (1998) Multiple Sclerosis. Alternative Medicine Digest, March, Issue 22, pp. 33-34
Hauser, R.A., MD, et al. (2001) Bee-Venom Therapy for Treating Multiple Sclerosis. Alternative & Complementary Therapies, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp. 37-45
Leeches, Maggots and Bees - The Bite That Cures: Documentary video - Order: TLC Video, VHS# 759159, TLC Channel, Tel.: 1-800-449-1700, International: +859-342-7200
Schwab, Robert MD. (1938) Bienengift als Heilmittel (Bee Venom as Medicine). Georg Thieme Verlag, Leipzig, Germany, booklet, (in German)
Owen, M.D., Bridges, A.R. (1976) Aging in the Venom Glands of Queen and Worker Bees (Apis mellifera L.). Some Morphological and Chemical Observations. Toxicon, 14:1-5
Owen, M.D. (1978) Venom Replenishment, as Indicated by Histamine, in Honey Bee (Apis mellifica L.) Venom. J. Insect Physiol., 24:433-437
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