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.
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 (R).
This form of medicine originated in the ancient Greece and China (R).
It is administered systemically or in the form of chemical stimulation of acupoints, so-called “Bee Venom acupuncture” or “apipuncture” (R).
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 (R).
It is mainly helpful in the treatment of chronic nerve pain, joint pain, and dermatitis (R).
The pharmacological basis behind the therapy is still not fully understood (R).
Venom immunotherapy is safe in children (R).
Health Benefits of Bee Sting Therapy
1) Bee Sting Therapy Treats Inflammation
Autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis can be treated by this therapy (R).
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 (R).
Lupus nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys caused by lupus) is a serious complication that can cause permanent damage to the kidneys (R).
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 (R).
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 (R).
2) Bee Sting Therapy Protects the Brain
Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common progressive neurodegenerative disorders (R).
BV acupuncture prevents damage to neurons, and also improves motor symptoms in Parkinson’s clinical trials (R).
Apamin, a specific component of BV, has a protective effect in the mice model of Parkinson’s (R).
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 (R).
3) Bee Sting Therapy Can Help Treat 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 (R).
The cell cytotoxic effects through the activation of phospholipase A2 by melittin are the critical mechanism for the anti-cancer activity of BV (R).
Bee venom and its compounds have potential to induce cytotoxic, antitumor, and cell death effects in different tumor cells (R).
4) Bee Sting Therapy Can 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 (R).
BV therapy successfully reduced the symptoms of asthma and other allergies by reducing inflammation in the lungs (R).
- The immunological mechanisms of BV immunotherapy include a shift toward Th1 cytokines, an increase in the number of peripheral Tregs, and an upregulation of different markers expressed on CD4+ T cells (R).
- In an animal model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), mutant human superoxide dismutase 1 (hSOD1) transgenic mice, BV acupuncture inhibited microglia activation and phospho-p38 MAPK expression in the CNS, resulting in improvement of motor activity (R).
- BV induces the release of either of histamine or leukotriene C4 in the skin of beekeepers (R).
- For instance, bilateral acupoint stimulation of lower hind limbs with bee venom was protective in the acute 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) mouse model of PD (R).
- Interestingly, treatment of BV in symptomatic ALS animals improved motor activity and the median survival of the BV-treated group (139 ± 3.5 days) was 18% greater than the control group (117 ± 3.1 days) (R).
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 (R).
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 (R).
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 (R, R2).
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 (R, R2).
Chronic inflammation of the hair follicles is also reported as a complication of bee sting acupuncture therapy (R).
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