Evidence Based

Bee Sting Therapy 101

Written by Joe Cohen, BS | Last updated:

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bee sting therapy
Bee Sting Therapy is a treatment mostly used in Asian countries to help stop inflammation, fight cancer, and protect the brain. It might be a good alternative to using supplements and other treatments. Learn more about this therapy below.

What is Bee Sting Therapy?

Live bee sting therapy, also known as Bong-Chim or Bee Venom Therapy, is popularly used in Asian countries, especially Korea, for a variety of complications [1].

This form of medicine originated in ancient Greece and China [2].

It is administered systemically or in the form of chemical stimulation of acupoints, so-called “Bee Venom acupuncture” or “apipuncture” [2].

It involves direct injection of the bee sting into the lesion from a live bee. Live bee sting therapy intentionally leaves the venom sac in the tissue for therapeutic purposes [1].

It is mainly helpful in the treatment of chronic nerve pain, joint pain, and dermatitis [1].

It is also used to relieve pain and to treat arthritis, rheumatism, cancer, asthma, and skin diseases [23].

The pharmacological basis behind the therapy is still not fully understood [3].

Venom immunotherapy is safe in children [4].

Health Benefits of Bee Sting Therapy

1) Reduces Inflammation

Autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis can be treated by this therapy [2].

The effect of combined application of bee-venom therapy and medication is superior to the simple use of medication in relieving rheumatoid arthritis. Bee Venom (BV) may have anti-inflammatory effects in rheumatoid arthritis [2].

Lupus nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys caused by lupus) is a serious complication that can cause permanent damage to the kidneys [2].

BV treatment significantly reduced symptoms of kidney damage, prevented renal inflammation, reduced tubal damage, and decreased immune deposits in the glomeruli. Studies suggest that BV therapy has the potential to modulate autoimmune response in lupus nephritis [2].

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system (CNS) that affects more than one million people worldwide. Its clinical symptoms include loss of coordination, sensory impairment, cognitive dysfunction, and fatigue. BV has the potential to become a therapeutic agent for multiple sclerosis [2].

2) Protects the Brain

Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common progressive neurodegenerative disorders [5].

BV acupuncture prevents damage to neurons and also improves motor symptoms in Parkinson’s clinical trials [5].

Apamin, a specific component of BV, has a protective effect in the mice model of Parkinson’s [6].

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a disease affecting the central nervous system causing the death of motor neurons. BV could be a potential therapeutic agent for anti-neuroinflammatory effects in ALS [7].

3) Cancer

Several cancer cells, including kidney, lung, liver, prostate, bladder, and mammary cells as well as leukemia cells, can be targets of bee venom proteins such as melittin and phospholipase A2 [8].

The cell cytotoxic effects through the activation of phospholipase A2 by melittin are the critical mechanism for the anti-cancer activity of BV [8].

Bee venom and its compounds have the potential to induce cytotoxic, antitumor, and cell death effects in different tumor cells [8].

4) May Relieve Allergies

Allergen-specific CD4+ T cells can cause the development of allergies and asthma. Bee venom therapy helps increase the body’s antibodies and reduces the effects of the T cells [2].

BV therapy successfully reduced the symptoms of asthma and other allergies by reducing inflammation in the lungs [2].

The mechanism for reducing allergies include a shift toward Th1 cytokines, and an increase in Tregs [2].

Side Effects

Most of the complications due to bee venom acupuncture are local or systemic allergic reactions. However, it can also cause serious medical and neurological complications [9].

Honeybee venom sting acupuncture can cause Guillain-Barré syndrome. It happens when the immune system causes a rapid-onset muscle weakness that damages the peripheral nervous system [9].

Reactions to insect bites, including bee stings, clinically show mild symptoms such as skin problems, urticaria (hives) and pain. It can also cause respiratory failure, kidney damage, and hemorrhaging [1011].

Most insects retrieve their stingers after stinging, but bees leave poison sac and neural plexus at the site of injection. These retained materials in the skin continuously act as antigens, causing inflammatory reactions [1011].

Chronic inflammation of the hair follicles is also reported as a complication of bee sting acupuncture therapy [11].

Want More Targeted Ways to Combat Inflammation?

If you’re interested in natural and more targeted ways of lowering your inflammation, we at SelfHacked recommend checking out this inflammation wellness report. It gives genetic-based diet, lifestyle and supplement tips that can help reduce inflammation levels. The recommendations are personalized based on your genes.

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About the Author

Joe Cohen, BS

Joe Cohen won the genetic lottery of bad genes. As a kid, he suffered from inflammation, brain fog, fatigue, digestive problems, anxiety, depression, and other issues that were poorly understood in both conventional and alternative medicine.Frustrated by the lack of good information and tools, Joe decided to embark on a journey of self-experimentation and self-learning to improve his health--something that has since become known as “biohacking”. With thousands of experiments and pubmed articles under his belt, Joe founded SelfHacked, the resource that was missing when he needed it. SelfHacked now gets millions of monthly readers.Joe is a thriving entrepreneur, author and speaker. He is the CEO of SelfHacked, SelfDecode and LabTestAnalyzer.His mission is to help people gain access to the most up-to-date, unbiased, and science-based ways to optimize their health.
Joe has been studying health sciences for 17 years and has read over 30,000 PubMed articles. He's given consultations to over 1000 people who have sought his health advice. After completing the pre-med requirements at university, he founded SelfHacked because he wanted to make a big impact in improving global health. He's written hundreds of science posts, multiple books on improving health, and speaks at various health conferences. He's keen on building a brain-trust of top scientists who will improve the level of accuracy of health content on the web. He's also founded SelfDecode and LabTestAnalyzer, popular genetic and lab software tools to improve health.

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