Chinese Scientist Upgrades Bee Venom Therapy

The anti-arthritic effects of bee venom
Study reveals how melittin in venom blocks inflammation

Bee stings 'help' mother with MS
A mother-of-two who is battling against multiple sclerosis

says she is being helped by 36 bee stings a week.


Chinese Scientist Upgrades Bee Venom Therapy

A Chinese scientist and his colleagues have cured thousands of patients with chronic and intractable diseases by using an upgraded bee venom therapy. The upgraded therapy inventor, Miao Xiaoqing, a professor with the Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, said the therapy is of particular benefit to arthritics and rheumatics.

New Therapy Comfortable, not Painful
Miao said: "Traditional therapy requires doctors to inject bee venom into points of the human body through a bee's sting. This can be very painful. A direct injection may also cause allergic reactions or shock. My treatment is different."

Miao slowly dabbed the arm of his patient, 70-year-old Zhang, with a concoctment of bee venom and certain traditional Chinese medicine.

Zhang said: "It is very comfortable." Many years of arthritis have made her hands as swollen as steamed bread, but now she can move her fingers with ease.
Traditional Therapy
Bee venom therapy has a 3,000-year history in China. Ancient Roman doctors used bee venom as a pain-killer as early as 130 B.C.

Experts say bee venom can help blood flow smoothly in human bodies and can rehabilitate cells. It can inhibit the growth of bacteria and the development of inflammation.

A traditional way of collecting bee venom is to cut the stings from bees and extract the venom after sundering the stings. This gives only one or two percent of the total volume of a bee's venom.

Miao said: "Such crude ways of venom collection have wasted over 10 billion yuan worth of bee venom."
Modern Bee Venom Treatment

Miao collects bee venom by having bees sting a simulated piece of human skin, which greatly enhances the venom's purity.

The chief consultant of the China Apiculture Society, Gong Yifei, said Miao's patent inventions could help China develop a modern bee therapy industry.

Chinese cities such as Hangzhou, Shanghai and Guangzhou have opened clinics with bee venom treatment. Western countries such as Germany and Austria have also used this treatment

Bee Venom Therapy

Bee venom therapy is the part of apitherapy which utilizes bee venom in the treatment of health conditions. Apitherapy is the use of beehive products, including honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly, bee venom. It has been used since ancient times to treat arthritis, rheumatism, back pain, skin diseases and in this modern age as an alternative therapy to treat multiple sclerosis. Bee venom comes from the stingers of honey bees who use it in defence of the bee colony.

Bee venom is a rich source of enzymes, peptides and biogenic amines. There are at least 18 active components in the venom which have some pharmaceutical properties. The effect mechanism of the venom is not entirely know yet. Scientists believe it can modify the way the immune system functions in the body and contribute to increased cortisol production.

[ Back to EurekAlert! ]


Public release date: 4-Nov-2004
Contact: David Greenberg
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

The anti-arthritic effects of bee venom
Study reveals how melittin in venom blocks inflammation

Since ancient times, healers have practiced apitherapy, the use of honeybee products for curative purposes. Within the last few decades, conventional doctors have joined holistic practitioners in exploring the potential of bee venom for treating a wide variety of conditions from acute tendonitis to chronic back pain to rheumatoid arthritis (RA). While research has established anti-arthritic effects of bee venom, much about the way bee venom work remains a mystery.
A team of researchers in South Korea recently conducted an investigation into the molecular mechanisms behind bee venom's therapeutic impact on RA, a chronic, destructive inflammatory disease. The November 2004 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism ( presents their insights into melittin, a major component of bee venom and a powerful anti-inflammatory agent.
To gain a better understanding of bee venom's potential benefits for RA patients, the researchers examined its action in rat treated to induce inflammatory arthritis. For rats with advanced RA, treatment with bee venom at very low doses resulted in dramatic reductions of tissue swelling and osteophyte formation on affected paws. "Although the issue for determination of an effective dose is needed for further study," observes one of the authors, Jin Tae Hong, M.D., Ph.D. "Our data show that the anti-arthritic effects of bee venom are related to the anti-inflammatory effects of bee venom."
In the next phase of their study, researchers examined the anti-inflammatory effects of bee venom on synovial cells cells lining the joints obtained from human RA patients. Their experiments focused on melittin, bee venom's principal peptide. They observed melittin's power to block the expression of inflammatory genes, much like COX-2 inhibitor drugs used to treat RA. Melittin effectively reduces inflammation by inhibiting the critical DNA binding activity of NF-kB (Nuclear Factor kappa B), which directly controls a number of genes involved in immune reactions. Thus, Melittin's targeted inactivation of inflammation may hold the key to the anti-arthritic effects of bee venom.
"The potency of melittin in the inhibition of the inflammatory response may be of great benefit in degenerative and inflammatory diseases such as RA," concludes Dr. Hong. "The extent of inhibitory effects of melittin in most parameters determined in the present study is similar to or greater than bee venom itself, suggesting that melittin may be a major causative component in the pharmacologic effects of bee venom."

Article: "Antiarthritic Effect of Bee Venom: Inhibition of Inflammation Mediator Generation by Suppression of NF-B Through Interaction With the p50 Subunit," Hye Ji Park, Seong Ho Lee, Dong Ju Son, Ki Wan Oh, Ki Hyun Kim, Ho Seub Song, Goon Joung Kim, Goo Taeg Oh, Do Young Yoon, and Jin Tae Hong, Arthritis & Rheumatism, November 2004; 50:11; pp. 3504-3515 (DOI: 10.1002/art.20626).

Bee stings 'help' mother with MS
A mother-of-two who is battling against multiple sclerosis says she is being helped by 36 bee stings a week.
Paula Cooke, 40, of Terrington St Clement, Norfolk, has had MS for 15 years and has no feeling from her waist to her toes.
About three months ago she started a course of bee venom therapy and she believes it has been a success.
But the MS Society has warned people that they must consult a doctor before considering this "unproven" therapy.
Ms Cooke told BBC News that she now wants other people to know about this form of treatment for her condition.
"I want people to have their own opportunity to decide whether to try this treatment for themselves," she said.
'Regained use of toes'
"The bee stings have brought about tiny improvements from absolutely nothing. It is amazing."
Ms Cooke, who has two children - Danielle, 12, and Kaysie, 19 - recently found she could move some of the toes on her feet.
Her mother Jillian Fisher said the treatment involves 12 stings at a time each Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
She said that at first they got bees sent from London, but now they have found a local beekeeper Michael Melton.
'No clinical evidence'
"When we first started using this bee therapy we were told it would not produce any effects for three months, but in the first couple of weeks she regained use of some of her toes," she said.
A spokesman for the MS Society said: "There is no clinical evidence to support this, though there are some anecdotal reports about various therapies.
"Anybody who is contemplating this should consult their neurologist or GP first."
Doctors have concerns because some people are allergic to bee stings.
The spokesman added that MS is a variable condition with some patients showing differing symptoms at different times.
Bee venom therapy has been used for treating arthritis.
It is thought that the shock of the sting cranks up adrenal glands to produce the natural painkiller cortisol.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2004/12/30 10:54:55 GMT