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.