Bee Venom Therapy for Arthritis
Can a Bee Sting Help Arthritis?
If you have arthritis, you’re most likely using standard treatment methods to ease joint pain and stiffness. These may include traditional medicine and lifestyle changes.
But some research suggests that a surprising alternative treatment may help treat arthritis: bee venom.
Click through the slideshow to learn more about how a bee sting might offer help for arthritis.
What Is Bee Venom Therapy?
According to a study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, bee venom has been used to treat various conditions for centuries, often delivered through acupuncture.
First, the bee venom is extracted, and then it’s processed. The processed venom can then be targeted to specific locations on the body, depending on the disease.
Many researchers have studied how effective be venom can be for treating arthritis, particularly rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
One study published in the Chinese journal Acupuncture Research compared bee venom results in 100 RA patients. Fifty patients used traditional oral medicine, and 50 patients used oral medicine plus bee venom.
After three months, researchers found that both groups experienced improved joint swelling and pain. They also had fewer swollen joints.
Better with Venom?
According to the study, the group that used bee venom in addition to traditional medicine saw better results than those who used traditional medicine alone.
Researchers found that those in the group that used bee venom showed more improvement in joint swelling and pain, and morning stiffness.
Patients treated with bee venom plus oral medicine also had stronger grasp force, and their relapse rate was lower.
A separate study researched the effect of bee venom in lab rats. Researchers found that adjuvant arthritis was prevented in rats that were treated with whole bee venom. Adjuvant arthritis in rats is thought to model RA in humans.
Interestingly, researchers found that only whole bee venom worked. When they used only certain parts of the venom, it didn’t prevent the rats’ arthritis.
Researchers also found that when they waited for arthritis to appear before beginning treatment, the bee venom did not appear to alter the disease.
Despite these studies, there is still controversy about the effect of bee venom on arthritis. In one review, researchers reported that bee venom acupuncture (BVA) was found to be an effective anti-inflammatory. However, its effectiveness on arthritis was still unclear.
The researchers found 15 studies that met their criteria on bee venom. Yet, they reported that there was limited evidence demonstrating the efficacy of BVA. They also concluded that more studies and larger trials are needed to test BVA.
Talk to Your Doctor
Now that you have learned about the possible benefits of adding bee venom therapy to traditional arthritis therapy, you may be tempted to start a bee venom treatment. But, it's important to talk to your doctor about any complimentary therapies. More studies are needed to research the effects of bee venom. Don’t take it without a doctor's recommendation.
- Al - Samie Mohamed Ali, M. A. (2012). Studies on bee venom and its medical uses. International Journal of Advancements in Research & Technology, 1(2). Retrieved December 13, 2013, from http://www.ijoart.org/docs/Studies-on-Bee-Venom-and-Its-Medical-Uses.pdf
- Lee, J., Park, H., Chae, Y., & Lim, S. (2005). An overview of bee venom acupuncture in the treatment of arthritis. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2(1), 79-84. Retrieved December 13, 2013, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1062163/
- Liu, X., Zhang, J., Zheng, H., Liu, F., & Chen, Y. (2008). Clinical randomized study of bee-sting therapy for rheumatoid arthritis. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu: Acupuncture Research, 33(3), 197-200. Retrieved December 13, 2013, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18807725
- Rheumatoid arthritis: Definition. (2013, July 27). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved December 13, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/rheumatoid-arthritis/DS00020
- Zurier, R., Mitnick, H., Bloomgarden, D., & Weissmann, G. (1973). Effect of bee venom on experimental arthritis. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 32, 466-470. Retrieved December 13, 2013, from http://ard.bmj.com/content/32/5/466.full.pdf