Not all products used in alternative healing come from plants. Apis mellifica is the venom of the common honeybee or a tincture made from the whole bee. Various species of honeybees found throughout the world are used for this remedy in homeopathic medicine. The remedy made from them is usually called apis. Other folk medicine traditions use additional bee-related substances in healing such as honey, beeswax, pollen, royal jelly, and propolis.
Homeopathic medicine operates on the principle that "like heals like." This means that a disease can be cured by treating it with products that produce the same symptoms as the disease. These products follow another homeopathic law, the Law of Infinitesimals. In opposition to traditional medicine, the Law of Infinitesimals states that the lower a dose of curative, the more effective it is. To make a homeopathic remedy, the curative is diluted many, many times until only a tiny amount remains in a huge amount of the diluting liquid.
In homeopathic terminology, the effectiveness of remedies is "proved" by experimentation and reports by famous homeopathic practitioners. About 1900, both bee venom and tincture from the entire insect were proved as a remedy by the Central New York State Homeopathic Society.
In homeopathic medicine, apis is used as a remedy for many symptoms similar to those of bee stings. These include:
- inflammation with a burning sensation
- stinging pain
- itchy skin
- swollen and sensitive skin
- red, flushed, hot face
- hive-like welts on the skin
Homeopathic practitioners use apis when stinging or burning inflammations appear in all parts of the body, not just on the skin. A homeopath could use apis for sore throats, mumps, urinary tract infections, and other conditions where there is a stinging or burning sensation.
Symptoms treated by apis usually appear quite rapidly. There is usually some swelling or edema along with the stinging sensation. Many people who need apis complain of swollen eyelids, as if they had an eye infection. In keeping with the symptom of edema, often little urine is produced although there may be a strong urge to urinate. Despite this, the patient has little thirst or desire to drink.
Often the patient who will be given apis appears flushed or has a rough rash. The rash may appear, then disappear. The skin will be sensitive to the touch and alternatively hot and dry, then sweaty. Patients may also feel nauseated, suffer from heartburn, or have tightness throughout their chest or abdomen that feels like they will burst if they cough or strain.
Certain mental and emotional symptoms also appear in the patient that needs apis. Sadness, weeping, and depression can occur. Apis is often used after a person experiences a strong emotional reaction such as jealousy, fear, rage, or anger.
In homeopathic medicine, the fact that certain symptoms get better or worse under different conditions is used as a diagnostic tool to indicate what remedy will be most effective. Symptoms that benefit from treatment with apis get worse by applying warmth or drinking warm liquids. They also get worse from touch or pressure, or when the person is in a closed, heated room. The symptoms are often worse on the right side, after sleeping, and in the late afternoon. Symptoms improve with the application of cold and exposure to open air.
Homeopathy also ascribes certain personality types to certain remedies. The apis personality is said to be fidgety, restless, and unpredictable. People with the apis personality may have wildly inappropriate reactions to emotional situations. They want company, but reject affection, and sometimes insist that they don't need medical attention when they are clearly unwell. People who need apis often have bouts of unprovoked jealousy and unprovoked tears. They may fear ill health and death greatly.
There are two homeopathic dilution scales, the decimal (x) scale with a dilution of 1:10 and the centesimal (c) scale with a dilution factor of 1:100. Once the mixture is diluted, shaken, strained, then rediluted many times to reach the desired degree of potency, the final mixture is added to lactose (a type of sugar) tablets or pellets. These are then stored away from light. Homeopathic apis venom is available commercially in tablets in many different strengths. Dosage depends on the symptoms being treated. Homeopathic tincture of whole honeybee is also available in a variety of strengths.
Homeopathic and orthodox medical practitioners agree that by the time the initial remedy solution is diluted to strengths used in homeopathic healing, it is likely that very few molecules of the original remedy remain. Homeopaths, however, believe that these remedies continue to work through an effect called "potentization" that has not yet been explained by mainstream scientists.
No particular precautions have been noted for using apis. However, people who are allergic or sensitive to bee venom should be cautious. They may react adversely to certain potencies of homeopathic apis.
When taken in the recommended dilute form, no side effects from apis have been reported. However, concentrated quantities of the bee venom can cause allergic reactions in susceptible people.
Studies on interactions between apis and conventional pharmaceuticals are nonexistent.
Cummings, Stephen, and Dana Ullman. Everybody's Guide to Homeopathic Medicines. 3rd ed. New York: Putnam, 1997.
Hammond, Christopher. The Complete Family Guide to Homeopathy. London: Penguin Studio, 1995.
Lockie, Andrew, and Nicola Geddes. The Complete Guide to Homeopathy. London: Dorling Kindersley, 1995.
Foundation for Homeopathic Education and Research. 21 Kittredge St., Berkeley, CA 94704. (510) 649-8930.
International Foundation for Homeopathy. P.O. Box 7, Edmonds, WA 98020. (206) 776-4147.
National Center for Homeopathy. 801 N. Fairfax St., Suite 306, Alexandria, VA 22314. (703) 548-7790.
Homeopathic Internet Resources. <http://www.holisticmed.com/> and <www/homeopathy.html>