Apitherapy is a cutting-edge therapy that uses the medical application of bee stings or bee products to treat an ailment. To put it simply, using bees to ‘sting’ you out of disease or using bee products to cure you is what Apitherapy is all about.
The term Apitherapy arises from the Latin word ‘Apis’, meaning bees. Bee therapy consists of using bee products for therapeutic purposes. Honey, bee pollen, royal jelly, bee propolis are some of the products that have medicinal effects. From chronic pain and arthritis to multiple sclerosis and even cancer, these products are said to combat a lot of diseases.
The origin of Apitherapy can be traced to ancient Egypt, China and Greece. It is said that even Hippocrates, the ‘father of medicine’ used bee venom to treat joint problems and arthritis. The practice slowly gained popularity, and today thousands of practitioners use Apitherapy throughout the world. The most commonly used bee products are:
Bee venom: The bee sting is considered to cure a variety of ailments. Bees are caught and placed on trigger points associated with the ailment. The venom injected by the bee when it stings is supposed to stimulate the adrenal glands that produce the hormone Cortisol. Since Cortisol has anti-inflammatory properties, the sting enables the body to unleash its own healing power. Thus bee venom is used to treat conditions that involve inflammation, like bursitis, tendonitis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid.
But before you get yourself stung with this apitherapy treatment, find out if you are allergic to it. Always consult a trained practitioner for the treatments. The practitioner typically places the bee on the area near the joint or muscle. The sting is of course a little uncomfortable. The silver lining is that a bee’s sting is less painful than that of a wasp or a hornet. Usually, an ice pack is applied to the area prior to the sting to reduce pain.
Honey: Raw honey, another apitherapy product, is a quick source of energy and a natural storehouse of vitamins and minerals. Its mild antibacterial and antibiotic properties make it good to fight small ailments like sore throat, minor burns and cough. Honey which has not been heated or processed in any way is healthier and more wholesome.
Royal Jelly: This milky white substance is produced in their salivary glands by the worker bees to feed the queen bee. It is this substance that makes the queen bee live a long, fertile life. Royal Jelly is claimed to fight a variety of medical conditions including asthma, fatigue, infertility and lack of appetite etc. However these claims are mainly anecdotal and there is no medical proof to back the claims. But Royal Jelly was successfully used to lower cholesterol level in human beings. Commercially, Royal Jelly appears in anti-wrinkle and other cosmetic creams.
Bee Propolis: Bee propolis is otherwise called ‘bee glue’. It is a sticky resin that oozes from the buds of some trees. Worker bees collect the propolis and use it to coat the inside of their hive. The bee hive is believed to be so safe because of the anti-bacterial properties of the propolis. Thus propolis has been used as a salve for bruises and cuts. It is also a rich source of potent antioxidants and thus prevents cell damage.
While Apitherapy has a number of ardent proponents, it must be noted that there is little scientific proof to back the claims of patients who have recovered. However, it is true that a large number of patients have reported lasting effects after Apitherapy. Since there are no side effects, the treatment is definitely worth a try.