Many have said that bee venom is useful in treating illnesses and lessening inflammation given its diverse range of medicinal properties. However, these theories are lacking scientific proof and coherent reasoning and evidence. Despite so, there is still a myriad of key information about bee venom’s consumption and effects that are relatively well-known. If you’re curious to find out more, read on!
What Is It?
Bee venom is released by bees through their stingers and onto their victims. It is acidic and colorless. It comprises of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory compounds such as enzymes, minerals, sugars, and amino acids. One of the key components is Melittin — known to have antibacterial and antiviral properties, while also being the root cause of pain that comes along with bee stings. The substances in the venom have both beneficial and damaging health effects. Diving deeper and looking at each component in detail, their isolated effects cannot be determined as there is not enough research done.
How Is Bee Venom Used?
Bee-venom therapy has existed since ancient times. There is a diverse range of methods that venom could be used and administered on, such as through extracts, moisturizers, supplements and serums. It can be applied, eaten, or injected. You just have to approach medical professionals or take a trip to the health stores. Finally, bee venom is also part of bee-sting therapy and acupuncture, where living bees are used to purposely sting you.
While not all the benefits are scientifically proven, there much research has been done to suggest the health benefits of bee venom.
This property can be mostly attributed to melittin, the key component of bee venom. Though melittin does result in itch, inflammation, and pain when administered in larger portions, it has the opposite effect if consumed in smaller portions. It has anti-inflammatory effects as this compound has been claimed to soothe inflammatory pathways and lower the likelihood of such occurrences, through the removal of markers such as interleukin 1 beta.
Alleviate arthritis-associated symptoms
The anti-inflammatory effect as mentioned above also seemed to help those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Studies were conducted on those with RA and results showed that the use of bee venom-related therapy and medication were more effective in alleviating the symptoms as compared to using the normal medication alone.
Improve skin condition
Numerous dermal companies have experimented with bee venom products. The antibacterial and anti-inflammation properties are believed to enhance skin conditions and even minimize wrinkles. Through several studies where participants with skin conditions used skincare products with bee venom, most of them enjoyed a reduction in acne and wrinkles. Laboratory research has also proved that venom is highly effective in combating acne-causing bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes.
It has been found that bee venom has positive effects on immune cells that help to counter allergic and inflammatory reactions. Data from animal studies indicate that bee-venom therapy can minimize autoimmune conditions like lupus and reduce the intensity of inflammation. These would all help in boosting one’s immunity. Other studies also seem to suggest that bee venom could help cure allergic illnesses such as asthma. The scientific theory is that bee venom induces the production of compounds that would stop allergic reactions and inflammations. Not surprisingly, there is still limited data in this aspect to give a firm statement. Venom immunotherapy is where the venom is injected, and is often used in treatments for bee stings.
Such treatment could be regarded as safe with negligible dangers. It could, in fact, prevent the likelihood of future severe responses to bee stings. This treatment is top of the list for those who are allergic to bee venom.
Though studies are lacking in this aspect, bee venom could be of assistance to the following issues:
- Neurological diseases. Some studies revealed that bee-venom therapy would help to relieve symptoms related to neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease. However, more human studies are needed.
- Pain. One research found that bee-venom acupuncture, coupled with medication, did noticeably minimize pain and better the functional status in over 50 patients who suffered from chronic pain in the lower back.
- Might fight Lyme disease. Through multiple studies, the results seem to indicate that bee venom and its component, melittin, could possibly be used against Borrelia burgdorferi, the root cause of the Lyme disease. These antimicrobial effects still require further and more in-depth research.
Despite the positive news and effects of bee venom, it can only be confirmed after more research has been done.
Preventive Measures and Dangers
While many benefits have been discussed, we should not neglect the lack of human studies that support this view. The effectiveness of bee venom in administering treatments is debatable and could have side effects like swelling, pain, and redness. In serious cases, death might occur in those who are highly allergic, which is caused by anaphylaxis, a fatal allergic reaction that results in breathing difficulties. Some other severe cases include experiences of hyperventilation, loss of appetite, higher risk of bleeding, fatigue, and nausea. Some studies also conclude that the likelihood of suffering side effects from bee venom, be it mild or severe, is higher than 25%. Furthermore, there are many triggers for severe side effects to happen. They include bee-venom acupuncture, serums, and moisturizers made using bee venom.
Corroborated by other available research, it could be said that negative reactions regardless of the intensity, often come together with the consumption of bee venom. Hence, you should be very careful when using bee venom for treatments. They should only be done and diagnosed by a medical professional.
Bee venom has gained traction due to the myriad of health benefits that it offers. Studies have found that it carries anti-inflammatory properties, improves skin conditions, and might even be useful in curing symptoms associated with various illnesses such as chronic pain and rheumatoid arthritis. However, using these products or therapy comes with possible side effects that could result in complications. Hence, please practice extra caution and seek advice from medical professionals before attempting to use it.