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Bee Sting Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

bee sting

Bee sting by Hadi [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I’m really afraid of bees. I’ve only been stung once, and after 2 seconds of pure torture, I thought the end of the world was approaching. Now I’m reading that there might be a way to use bee venom to help individuals with multiple sclerosis and arthritis… by voluntarily being stung! It sounds crazy, but it’s been shown to help some individuals.

This video from National Geographic (https://youtu.be/p245IE6_qf8) shows the journey of one woman with multiple sclerosis undergoing Bee Sting Therapy (also known as Bee Venom Therapy). She got up to 200 honey bee stings per week (I’m blacking out, hold on one second… OK, I’m back) for several consecutive months. The honey bee, it should be noted, can only sting once. Once the stinger is in human skin, the bee flies away, leaving its stomach and stinger behind, and dies shortly afterwards. However, even after flying away, the stinger will continue to inject venom into its victim. The venom then stimulates the body to release white blood cells and histamines, leaving behind noticeable marks on skin. Can you imagine getting 200 in one sitting?

Anyway, Bee Sting Therapy is somewhat based off of acupuncture, which has been known to help with intolerable pain due to arthritis and MS. Studies have been done to identify if this treatment truly works, and results have gone both ways. A study by the journal Neurology, “A randomized crossover study of bee sting therapy for multiple sclerosis” concluded that Bee Sting Therapy actually did nothing to improve the MS of study subjects, nor did it improve the quality of living.

Pat Wagner, AKA “The Bee Lady”, was diagnosed with MS in 1970. On her website (http://www.howstuffworks.com/framed.htm?parent=medicine/tests-treatment/bee-sting-therapy.htm&url=http://www.olg.com/beelady) she explains her journey with MS and all the medications she took. She said nothing worked and that the doctor told her there was no hope. Then she partook in her first “intentional sting” in 1992, 22 years later. Wagner said within a couple of hours she was no longer freezing; within a couple of days she had a very noticeable increase in energy; and with a couple of weeks she regained the hearing in her right ear (after losing it because of MS).

Is this all in our heads? If you have MS and undergo Bee Sting Therapy, what do you think if you suddenly start to feel better? There is no cure for MS, and there have been many studies to prove this does nothing to improve the situation. But there are individuals who swear by it. What do you think?

Image Source: The First Post, In pictures: Apitherapy: therapeutic bee venom

Categories: Comparative Physiology

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