Q. I’m a nurse in a rural hospital. Some of the mountain folk I care for tell me that a bee sting every two years or so will significantly decrease arthritis inflammation and pain. They attribute this remedy to the Chinese who came to this area a hundred years ago to work on the railroads and in the logging industry.
A. “Apitherapy,” or bee venom therapy, for arthritis goes way back in time. There are reports that it was used in ancient Egypt and China. Hippocrates (460-377 BC) is purported to have written about bee stings for painful joints.
Doctors in this country used bee venom therapy to treat arthritis during the first part of the 20th century. Hospital pharmacies even stocked venom for injections. After World War II, this approach fell out of favor because it was considered unscientific.
Proponents claim that honeybee stings can alleviate the pain of tendonitis, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and postherpetic neuralgia. This nerve pain lingers after a shingles attack and can be excruciating. The American Apitherapy Society can provide more information (www.apitherapy.org).