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).

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  1. SweetDoug
    Reply




    I’ll add my 2¢ here.
    I’ve had arthritis in my big right toe for years, starting in my early 40’s from an injury I sustained in high school, where a bench fell on my toe.
    This summer, I had some yellow jackets in the house. They disappeared, but what happened was, they just dropped onto the floor. Well, guess who stepped on one.
    Eee-yowwwwwww!
    Yup. Right on the foot, under the middle toe.
    A day later, my big toe was not aching, and it’s not ached for several months. It’s just now coming back. I’m going to do this again next spring when the little buggers come out again.
    Can’t argue with the correlation.
    •∆•
    V-V

  2. Kathy Mc
    Reply

    In Colo. 1997 I got honey bees to help with my pain with fibromyalgia.

    I moved to CA and over the internet I connected with a person in Canada to sell me a vial of bee serum with Dr. prescription.. IT WORKED… that was 1999.

    I need to do it again. can anyone help me get a hold of these products again?
    Kathy

  3. John G
    Reply

    I have arthritis in my finger and joint, how do I get a bee to sting my finger?

  4. GGordon
    Reply

    My dad was a bee farmer from age 17 to 82. All of his siblings suffered from bad arthritis. When he died at age 82 his hands looked better than mine do at at 43. Getting stung was a regular part of our childhood since we had over 200 hives on the property at all times. I never remember suffering from injury pain for very long back then and we were rough and tumble type of kids. I also remember people coming to the farm for stings. They’d sit on the rock benches and dad would catch bees and sting them.
    Yesterday was my re-commitment to sting therapy. I took on to the tip of my finger on the right hand and two to the knuckles on my left hand. I grabbed them with gloved fingers and directed the sting to where I needed it.

  5. Jenny
    Reply

    There was a show on Discovery Health (I think that’s the channel) and a lady was nearly killed by a bee swarm attack on her farm. She was in the hospital for 3 weeks on kidney machines, breathing tube, etc. She was in her 60s, and said the only positive thing from the incident is that she’s completely free of arthritis pain now, after suffering from that for years. She said jokingly that she doesn’t recommend trying to be stung by a huge swarm just to cure arthritis though! I looked on the web and it seems apitherapy really does work, by injections, so luckily it doesn’t require being stung directly by the bees.

  6. Casey
    Reply

    Read your column this morning regarding bee stings relieving arthritus pain. (Palm Beach Post July 30/08)
    Thought I’d share our story.
    On vacation one night while in the quaint fishing village of Parati, Brazil we ‘over enjoyed’ thier wonderful traditional drink Capahrina (a mixture of local sugar cane rum, sugar, lime and lots of ice). We awoke the next morning with the absolute worse hangovers we’d ever experienced. I’m not talking the little headache and upset tummy kind…I mean the sledgehammer head hitting and gonna barf kind. The kind you know is going to last ALL day…maybe 2 days. But we had early morning plans so left the hotel to find coffee at dawn.
    No luck with coffee at that hour and we were heading back (stumbling back is more like it) to the hotel when we were suddenly attacked by a small swarm of bees. My husband was stung 12 times and I was stung 8. We finally evaded the swarm by running back into our hotel.
    Back in our room we immediately decided to change our plans and leave the village as we were now afraid about walking around outside there. So we packed our bags and checked out. It was about an hour after we’d awakened at this point.
    As we drove away from the hotel it hit us…our hangovers were GONE. Completely gone. Other then the pain of the bee stings we both felt GREAT. We thoroughly enjoyed the rest of our day…WITHOUT any Capahrinas (:

  7. KL
    Reply

    I was stung 6 times by yellow jackets – 5 times on my left leg. I have osteoarthritis in my left knee, and the pain has been gone since I was stung. I’m hoping that it will last! I would definitely choose bee stings over yellow jackets if I were to experiment – they are much less painful!

  8. Ann T
    Reply

    When I was about 10 years old I had severe pain in both knees. Doctors believed it to be arthritis (even in such a young child) and treated me with painkillers–without success. My parents, who were from Ukraine, took me to a beekeeper friend. Over two summers I was stung behind the knees several times during the course of each summer. The arthritis type pains were gone for many years and only started to come back in my mid-forties.
    I’m seriously thinking of doing this again.

  9. harv nelson
    Reply

    Yellowjacket stings in my legs seem to lessen pain in my knees for a long time. For my hands, just washing dishes works better than Aspirin or ibuprofen.

  10. Lynn Peters
    Reply

    I was stung by a wasp at the base of my thumb,which completely relieved the arthritis pain I’d had there for years! The relief lasted for about 2 weeks. I had never heard of this before and wondered if any research had been done re bee venom and pain and swelling.

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