bee on a flower

Q. My dad has suffered with pain from shingles for almost 2 years. Yesterday, during a nap on the deck, he got stung on the toe by a bee. Even though that was painful, he’s feeling no shingles pain! Did you ever heard of such a thing? He’s perplexed but elated, for however long the freedom lasts.

A. Several years ago we met a physician who told us that he had surprising success treating people with postherpetic neuralgia (long-lasting shingles pain) with bee stings (apitherapy). We know that shingles pain can be agonizing and there are few treatments that really work well. We have heard similar stories from people suffering with arthritis. Years ago we received this letter:

“While snoozing on the porch I was stung on the finger by a tiny bee. The result: intense pain, and after that a great reduction of arthritis in my arm.”

Another visitor to our website reported:

“I was stung on my left leg five times by yellow jackets. I have osteoarthritis in my left knee, and the pain has been gone since I was stung. I’m hoping that it will last! If I had a choice, though I would definitely pick honeybee stings over yellow jackets as they’re much less painful.”

Some prominent doctors used bee venom therapy to treat arthritis between the two World Wars. Hospital pharmacies even stocked injectable bee venom. Apitherapy fell out of favor for lack of scientific proof. But people are now trying bee stings again for arthritis and other chronic conditions. Some people keep honeybees to sting their sore joints. Others get their doctors to inject venom used for bee allergy desensitization. No one allergic to bee stings should try this treatment, for one sting could trigger a fatal reaction.

To learn more about apitherapy you may wish to listen to our one-hour radio show on this topic. It can be ordered as a one-hour CD.

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  1. Margaret
    Kerry, ireland

    Who in Ireland administer bee stink injections? Is it a local GP?
    I have shingle pains for the past 4 years and have tried everything else
    I have not discussed this before now

  2. Margaret
    Kerry, ireland

    Who in Ireland administer bee stink injections? Is it a local GP?
    I have shingle pains for the past 4 years and have tried everything else

  3. seanp

    I used l-lysine when I had shingles too and it definitely relieved a lot of the pain. I highly recommend it.

  4. K.G.

    Injectable bee venom is really works against of many kinds of joint pains.
    Bee venom must be fresh, with a high activity of all components.
    Shelf life of bee venom powder is 3 years.

  5. geb

    l-lysine, B1 and zinc worked wonders for me when I started getting a second bout of shingles. Also, apply tea tree oil externally on any bumps or red spots you might see. This also seems to be a very effective combination for those occasions when you might feel your coming down with the flu or perhaps a bad cold.

  6. S.H.

    How many OTHER things (that work) have fallen out of favor for lack of “scientific proof” ?
    Biggest example I know of is: soap under the sheets to help restless leg syndrome.
    Keep up the good work, spreading remedies that work; I sometimes sound like “Granny Clampet” from The Beverly Hillbillies” tv show, but, hey, I do NOT care, because so many home remedies work.!

  7. a.s.

    bee stings and l-lysine.
    I’ve been using l-lysine for cold sores for years. I just recently got my introduction to joys of shingles . . . in my left ear! wish I’d made the connection at the time. I might’ve been able to shorten & minimize the pain.
    Maybe I can persuade a bee to sting me;-))

  8. JWM

    My wife’s son used to live in New Mexico and he knows some Native Americans who claim to have cured, or diminished, cancer by letting a rattlesnake bite them. If I wanted to try this, I’d go for a drastically reduced amount under medical supervision .
    Are these bee sting injections painful, like a real sting? One would think the snake venom would have to be very painful.
    Has snake venom ever been known to cure anything?
    Regards, J Mason

  9. Mr. Walt

    I have shingles & had read an artical somewhere about taking L-Lysine. I now take 1000mg twice daily with a multi vitamin & have had relief.

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