By Dr. Andreea Dragomirescu1 & Dr. Sanjeev Sood2

Folk tradition says that bee keepers don`t develop either cancer or arthritis due to the exposure to bee stings. During the 1940`s Dr. Bodog Beck, who can be considered the father of apitherapy in U.S, was doing an international search for beekeepers who got cancer and he could find one only. Incidence of both cancer and arthritis in beekeepers have changed nowadays, as factors inducing degenerative diseases are continuously increasing, still cancer and arthritis are obviously less in persons exposed to bee sting and recent scientific studies show that bee venom has compounds with strong anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and apoptotic properties.
ImageBee venom therapy has been used since ancient times, 2000 years ago Chinese therapists were using it for treating arthritis; Hippocrates-the "father of medicine" in ancient Greece was using bee venom and calling it "Arcanum”. The value of this therapy continuously used in folk tradition, was discovered again in 1850-1860 by European physicians: Dr Desjardins in France, Dr. Schwabe in Germany, and Dr. Philip Terc in Austria. Dr. Terc was the first physician that applied bee stings in a systematic way for treating rheumatic diseases in his patients. After 1930 bee sting therapy was also used in U. S. due to the research and practice of Dr. Bodog Beck and Dr. Broadman. At present, the countries with traditional and clinical experience in the use of bee venom therapy are China, Korea, Japan, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria and Brazil, while in the United States the use of bee venom is limited only for hyposensitizing allergic subjects.
Bee venom is a 100% genuine bee product, produced in a small gland in the abdominal part of the body of the working bees and of the queen. Drones do not posses such a gland. Bees are using their venom in order to protect the hive from intruders-insects, including foreigner thief bees, animals, humans, and to destroy the germs that develop in the corpse of any small animal mouse etc. that is killed inside the hive. After stinging the intruder the bee dies within one hour.
Bee venom has been used for long in the treatment of rheumatic diseases. Although there is a difference in the composition of venom of different bee species, there is research regarding the successful treatment of rheumatism not only with the venom of Apis mellifica, specific to Europe and U.S., but also with the venom of Apis dorsata and Apis cerana , (in China, Japan, India)
Bee venom contains: water 65-70% - a very good carrier for other substances, peptides, the most important is mellitin, a polypeptide containing 26 amino acids and representing 40-60% of the dry fraction of bee venom; mellitin is responsible for many biological actions of bee venom. At present mellitin is one of the strongest known anti-inflammatory agents, therefore it can be very useful in the treatment of arthritis and rheumatic disease. In 2004 a team of researchers in South Korea published the result of their research regarding the anti-inflammatory effect of mellitin. The study has proven that mellitin has the power to block the expression of the inflammatory genes, much like the COX-2 inhibitory drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis; therefore it is inhibiting the inflammatory response and may be of great benefit in degenerative and inflammatory diseases. Mellitin has antibacterial and antifungal effects, induces histamine relapse, has radio protective properties, especially against X-rays, decreases high blood pressure, has strong anti-inflammatory properties, stimulates the adrenals in order to release catecholamines and cortisol, so it increases the cortisol levels in the serum. Bee Venom contains apamin-an antigenic polypeptide with anti-inflammatory properties, cardiopeptid-that increases the contraction force of the heart and also the cardiac rhythm; it has antiarythmic properties and stimulates adrenals for releasing cortisol and cathecolamines, MCD- a peptide recently discovered that was proven to have 100 times stronger anti-inflammatory effect compared to hydrocortisone in the treatment of induced adjuvant arthritis. Enzymes: A 2 phospholipase- that has radio protective activity, induces histamine release, decreases high blood pressure and has antitumor activity; it has antigenic properties, being the major allergen agent of the bee venom. Hialuronidase- that increases capillary permeability and is an antigenic and anaphylactic compound.



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