Apitherapy or bee therapy is a course of treatment with honey bees and their products propolis, honey, royal jelly, bee venom, pollen and wax. The word “apitherapy” is of Latin origin – “apis” for bee and “therapeia” for therapy. Nowadays, apitherapy is considered as a branch of alternative medicine and is currently being practiced in Europe, USA and Asia.
Products, naturally created from honey bees, that can be used for apitherpay are:
- Bee venom or apitoxin is produced by female bee workers to defend themselves and their colony. In humans, it can be administered using a stainless steel micro mash or by a bee sting. The micro mash is preferred, as it allows the venom to enter the skin but does not harm the bee.
- Royal jelly is an enzyme-rich food that the queen bee eats.
- Propolis is a combination of various bee products (beeswax, tree resins, honey, and enzymes). The bees use it to protect themselves from external predators. It has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Pollen is plant reproductive material collected by bees. It is rich in nutrients and vitamins therefore bees use it to feed their larvae.
- Beewax is used to build the hive, but also to store honey and pollen. Humans use beewax for the production of candles, cosmetics and also in furniture polishes.
- Honey is the most widely known bee product. It is plant nectar converted to simple sugars that is used for energy and as winter food. Humans use honey as sweetener, but also as a cough remedy.
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When Can Apitherapy Be Used?
So far, apitherapy has been used for the treatment of illnesses such as arthritis and infections, injuries such as burns and wounds, and pain.
Bee venom can be used in the treatment of joint pain and arthritis because of its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. It can also be used in combination with classical treatment methods for neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases and multiple sclerosis.
Because of the natural antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving properties of honey it has been used for wound healing.
When added to the mount rinse, propolis can reduce gingivitis and plaques. Together with royal jelly, they can be used as multivitamins to improve overall health. While propolis is available as an oral supplement and extract, royal jelly can be found as soft gel or capsule.
The use of bees and their products is also extensively investigated by the scientific community. They are examining the potential use of apitherapy for the treatment of osteoarthritis, in menopausal women, psoriasis and even for respiratory viruses,
Is There A Reason To Be Worried?
If you are allergic to bee products, you should definitely avoid any kind of apitherapy. You should be very careful when using bee venom as it can cause a histamine response ranging from swollen skin to severe allergic reactions. Other possible side effects of the treatment are cough, headache, muscular weakness and uterine contractions.
It is still too soon to recommend apitherapy as a single method for disease treatment. However, the use of honey and propolis has already been shown to be safe and beneficial for humans. If you are considering to use bee therapy, you must consult your physician.
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