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March 15, 2010
By E. Huff
A bee sting is an unpleasant experience that undoubtedly everyone would choose to avoid if given the choice. However a growing number of people are choosing to be stung by bees in an alternative form of illness treatment called apitherapy. Apitherapy contends that bee venom holds therapeutic value in treating serious illness and that it is a viable alternative to dangerous pharmaceutical drugs that often do not work and have harmful side effects.
Apitherapy, a traditional folk remedy that has been used in many other countries for centuries, takes advantage of the healing power contained in honeybee venom which helps to alleviate serious conditions like multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and lupus. According to 51-year-old Reyah Carlson of Vermont, a proponent of apitherapy, bee venom helped to treat her Lyme Disease.
Carlson recently spoke at the North American Beekeepers Conference in Orlando where she spoke of the benefits of apitherapy. She regularly travels around the world telling people about the alternative treatment and informing them about how it works to treat disease.
Bee venom contains about 40 different healing components, one of which is melittin, a compound identified in a 2009 Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts study as an anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic element. According to Carlson, melittin and the other components work together to boost immunity and quicken the healing process.
Besides the two percent of the U.S. population that is allergic to bees, most people stand to benefit from apitherapy treatment. While it may not necessarily cure all conditions, the venom can at least keep diseases at bay without imposing harmful side effects like drugs do. Aside from the temporary pain of the sting itself, there are virtually no other negative side effects from apitherapy.
Many medical professional refuse to acknowledge the benefits of apitherapy. Despite the roughly 65,000 Americans who use and benefit from bee sting therapy, the medical establishment largely rejects it as a viable treatment option. According to Carlson, many doctors believe it is dangerous and could kill people.
Because reactions from bee stings can vary from person to person, Carlson always carries around antihistamines for minor reactions as well as epinephrine for those who may go into anaphylactic shock. Typically no severe reaction should happen in a healthy person who is not allergic to bee stings, but Carlson keeps a safety kit on hand as a precautionary measure and advises others who use or administer the therapy to do so as well.