Bee Sting.bmp
I’m really afraid of bees. I’ve only been stung once, and after 2 seconds of pure torture, I thought the end of the world was approaching. Now I’m reading that there might be a way to use bee venom to help individuals with multiple sclerosis and arthritis… by voluntarily being stung! It sounds crazy, but it’s been shown to help some individuals.

This video from National Geographic shows the journey of one woman with multiple sclerosis undergoing Bee Sting Therapy (also known as Bee Venom Therapy). She got up to 200 honey bee stings per week (I’m blacking out, hold on one second… OK, I’m back) for several consecutive months. The honey bee, it should be noted, can only sting once. Once the stinger is in human skin, the bee flies away, leaving its stomach and stinger behind, and dies shortly afterwards. However, even after flying away, the stinger will continue to inject venom into its victim. The venom then stimulates the body to release white blood cells and histamines, leaving behind noticeable marks on skin. Can you imagine getting 200 in one sitting? I think I’d look like this.

Anyway, Bee Sting Therapy is somewhat based off of acupuncture, which has been known to help with intolerable pain due to arthritis and MS. Studies have been done to identify if this treatment truly works, and results have gone both ways. A study by the journal Neurology, “A randomized crossover study of bee sting therapy for multiple sclerosis” concluded that Bee Sting Therapy actually did nothing to improve the MS of study subjects, nor did it improve the quality of living.

Pat Wagner, AKA “The Bee Lady”, was diagnosed with MS in 1970. On her website she explains her journey with MS and all the medications she took. She said nothing worked and that the doctor told her there was no hope. Then she partook in her first “intentional sting” in 1992, 22 years later. Wagner said within a couple of hours she was no longer freezing; within a couple of days she had a very noticeable increase in energy; and with a couple of weeks she regained the hearing in her right ear (after losing it because of MS).

Is this all in our heads? If you have MS and undergo Bee Sting Therapy, what do you think if you suddenly start to feel better? There is no cure for MS, and there have been many studies to prove this does nothing to improve the situation. But there are individuals who swear by it. What do you think?

Image Source: The First Post, In pictures: Apitherapy: therapeutic bee venom

Comments

  1. #1 Robert S.
    February 1, 2011

    Really?

    But there are individuals who swear by it

    I thought everyone at scienceblogs got it beaten into their heads that the only words that should follow that are “and the data says”

    It sounds crazy, but it’s been shown to help some individuals

    is directly refuted by

    A study by the journal Neurology, “A randomized crossover study of bee sting therapy for multiple sclerosis” concluded that Bee Sting Therapy actually did nothing to improve the MS of study subjects, nor did it improve the quality of living.

    This is yet another case of equating the absolute lowest quality evidence with some of the highest.

  2. #2 JB
    February 1, 2011

    LOL, bee stings for MS are so last decade, these days the snake oil of choice for MS is the Zamboni “liberation” therapy.

    “A randomized crossover study of bee sting therapy for multiple sclerosis” concluded that Bee Sting Therapy actually did nothing to improve the MS of study subjects, nor did it improve the quality of living.”

    Yes, but you know that in the wonderful world of alt med anecdotal evidence always trumps that nasty inconvenient evidence based approach.

  3. #3 DRK
    February 1, 2011

    I think I’d give more weight to the study. It is said that the plural of anecdote is not anecdata; one lady with MS feeling better after bee stings is not even a plural.

  4. #4 Roland
    February 1, 2011

    Former hobby beekeeper here. I’ve read about this therapy. It’s been around for decades. But of course I’ve only heard about the success stories. About the pain: sensitivity to it varies over the body. Deliberate stings are normally given in the lower back area, which is not very sensitive. Several treatments may be needed. A lack of initial swelling is a telltale sign of progress, and a bout of temporary swelling at the end of several treatments often heralds success. Again, hearsay, but studies are unlikely because there’s little likelihood of profit from this treatment (and a small market for it).

  5. #5 Vince whirlwind
    February 1, 2011

    It is if they ask her twice.

  6. #6 Big Blue
    February 2, 2011

    Must agree with the science on this one. I don’t see how this could work.

    I’m a hobbyist beekeeper, and the best I can tell you is that if you’re not actually allergic, and you don’t have an emotional reaction to bee stings, it’s not any worse than a mosquito bite as individual stings go. It does seem to be the natural instinct to swat the bees, run around screeching though, and as near as I can tell that seems to annoy the other bees and alert them to the danger you present to them. The most I ever got was 40+, after some skunks had knocked a hive off its stand and the bees really had no sense of humor at all about me putting their hive back together. Also, the first ones you get early in the season tend to swell a bit more than the ones you get later in the season, so it does seem that your immune system learns to tolerate the venom–and people who are allergic do become desensitized with venom therapy, when treated by an immunologist. So I can sorta see how you might want more stings to achieve the same whatever.

    Weirdly, there are actual drugs derived from other animal venoms–there are a couple of Australian startup biotechs making coagulation drugs based on snake venom, and a group called the Cancer Research Center in Hawaii is looking into the use of cobra venom as a complement activator to manipulate immune responses. Anyone want to bet on how long it takes for the woo to catch up to snake venom as a therapy?

  7. #7 Dini Sohbet
    February 2, 2011

    Dini Sohbet.”A randomized crossover study of bee sting therapy for multiple sclerosis” concluded that Bee Sting Therapy actually did nothing to improve the MS of study subjects, nor did it improve the quality of living.”

  8. #8 theshortearedowl
    February 2, 2011

    Yeah, you lost me at “Bee Sting Therapy is somewhat based off of acupuncture,”

    and convinced me that I could safely dismiss this entire article with “which has been known to help with intolerable pain due to arthritis and MS.”

  9. #9 Rhonda Crum
    February 3, 2011

    Bee Venom Therapy naturally raises the bodies production of cortisone which reduces inflamation and the pain in which it is associated.

  10. #10 fellow traveler
    February 4, 2011

    I do not have MS.

    I had a friend that I transported to a local Maryland, USA support group for folks that had been diagnosed with MS. I heard many different stories and personally viewed folks with various complications MS. There was a wide variation in the degree of impairment from the not noticeable to the severely impaired. The worst off could not attend the meetings. I quickly learned that being afflicted with MS can be a very nasty and life changing condition. I came to understand why so many MS patients are willing to try almost any ‘protocol’ to make any, even slight change in the pattern of their specific type of MS. With there being no ‘medical’ cure known, many chose to resort to non-scientific approaches on the chance – the mere chance, not certainty, that they might gain some benefit, however how slight. That attitude, not grounded by any science, does not seem to be so absurd given the typical downward progression of the condition.

    I happened to be at a meeting where the Pat Wagner, the Bee Lady mentioned in this article was a featured speaker. And I must say that when Ms. Wagner’s presentation was finished, when she arose and walked off the stage, the impact was powerful. Lot’s of questions arose and were answered. Imagine the impact on an audience of MS ‘victims’, several wheel-chair and electric chairs/scooters necessary for ambulation.

    Being somewhat on the science-orientated side of life, I came away from that personal experience as well as months of group meetings, with the attitude that even if there are no appropriately well designed scientific ‘studies’ proving the merits of bee-sting therapy, there may be some positive impact for a few afflicted with MS. Many more may not have any positive impact at all and possibly, experience adverse effects. But I completely understood why seriously limited MS patients were willing to give it a try.

    My friend succumbed to complications from MS several years ago.

  11. #11 adsense hack
    February 5, 2011

    Bee Venom Therapy naturally raises the bodies production of cortisone which reduces inflamation and the pain in which it is associated.

  12. #12 lynda
    February 8, 2011

    This cure has been in the rooks for years and I know a person it never worked for either,I have M.S.and take injections of disease modifying meds,never had a bee sting and dont want one until it is proven effective.

  13. #13 JT
    May 28, 2011

    My mother-in-law suffers from severe multiple sclerosis(ironic, wanting to help my mother-in-law, haha) Nevertheless, I’m human and I’m convinced no one should live in such agony everyday. Honestly…i rather be dead than to be in her shoes. This poor women is in constant pain with every movement. if someone has more information in regards to the bee sting therapy, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you all for your kind attention to this matter. God bless!

    JT

  14. #14 Vinay
    July 12, 2011

    Hi All,

    Read all your comments, got mixed reaction towards the MS and its medication. Personally i know some one who suffers from MS and she is loosing her memory day by day. She is under constant pain. I feel very helpless, can some one help me here?

  15. #15 Nikki
    January 6, 2012

    I think if this works for some people great!! From my understanding, there is no hard scientific evidence that bee sting therapy helps to alleviate MS symptoms. BUT there has been very little actual research done. The one study that was published in the Neurology journal back in 2005 that everyone keeps talking about only used 26 patients… not at great population size for making these kinds of conclusions. If it only works for 1 in 50 people or 1 in 75, the study missed it :/

  16. #16 geraldine haskins
    February 19, 2012

    I have a family member who has ms and i would love with all my heart to help her.
    A few years ago i read a book called Up the creek with a Paddle, It was about an Irish women who was told about a person who could turn back the effects ms had by a few years. I wont go into the whole story as it would take to long .See if you can rent or buy it. I told my family member about it but she would not try it as she was afraid. But now she is in a very very bad way and i only wish she would have given it a go. It was said that a lot of doctors agreed with it but were too afraid to speak out least they got into trouble for it. If it is not harmful and you think it might work then why not just try it. The big pharmacedical companys have a lot of say in these areas also. They need people to buy medical supplies abd its big money for them. Well thats only my opinion and i hope anyone out there suffering from MS finds some way of conquering it.The bee sting lady documentary was great as well and i hope people give it a try if they are not allergic to them. If you want i will go and hold your hand even if i am afraid of bees ha ha.

  17. #17 mike
    April 9, 2012

    I have had the opportunity to practice stinging my buddy.. He has MS… I also work with acupuncture.. As far as MS is concerned we have had fantastic success with the side effects.. The benefits we have seen have been increase balance, able to deal with heat much better, less twitching in the legs. Non MS, yet related issues. He has 7 bulging disks in his back and stiff muscles. The venom seems to help with this reducing his pain to near nothing. Helps a lot. I have also had great success with arthritis, Knee and joint pain.. However I am allergic to stings.. not deathly but more so than most folks, it would always be a good advise to talk with doctor before doing this. Also research the therapy and therapist. I would recommend someone who has acupuncture history…

  18. #18 hk
    April 13, 2012

    I would recommend this beesting therapy strongly.
    to JT or similar person who paining …..

    Also I know how to sting.also where…

  19. #19 robert l knight
    April 13, 2012

    I did bee stings from 1993 to 2005. I had to retire
    because I nolonger could do my job. After doing bee stings.

  20. #20 robert l knight
    April 13, 2012

    Bee stings worked for me. I stopped counting after 18,000
    stings. Bob.

  21. #21 Anonymous
    April 13, 2012

    Worked for me. topped counting after 18,000.

  22. #22 Lisa Ellis
    April 27, 2012

    I knew a lady w/ MS that received bee sting therapy. Before the therapy she was wheelchair bound. After several months of treatment she could walk again and reported it lessened her pain greatly. She came to look forward to the treatment because even though it hurt a little for a short time, the relief it gave her was remarkable. I can’t argue with what I have seen with my own eyes.

  23. #23 Douglas Kennedy DC
    April 28, 2012

    “Fellow Traveler’s” Feb posting, (#9 above) seems to make sense to me as well. There can be powerful placebo effects at work, and each person has unique biochemical profiles…so why not try it if you are afflicted? Would like to see more data, of course.

  24. #24 en ucuz
    May 1, 2012

    Former hobby beekeeper here. I’ve read about this therapy. It’s been around for decades. But of course I’ve only heard about the success stories. About the pain: sensitivity to it varies over the body. Deliberate stings are normally given in the lower back area, which is not very sensitive. Several treatments may be needed. A lack of initial swelling is a telltale sign of progress, and a bout of temporary swelling at the end of several treatments often heralds success. Again, hearsay, but studies are unlikely because there’s little likelihood of profit from this treatment (and a small market for it).

  25. #25 Katina
    July 25, 2012

    I think that any body with Ms should go for it you need to have faith put God first my mother has this awful disease she use to be an actress I have been taking care of her since 2006 she now has a feeding tube and trake. I have done everything for my mom even took her for stem cells now she suppose to get her first injection Im walking by faith and not by sight God bless.

  26. #26 mark
    west virginia
    July 27, 2012

    i was diagnosed 8 months ago and i am wondering if the bee stings will help me walk without a limp?

  27. #27 mark
    July 27, 2012

    Katrina, you say trust God? He is the one I trusted and He gave me MS.

  28. #28 Dianne
    Montreal, QC
    August 17, 2012

    I was diagnosed with MS 18 months ago and have been on meds for 1 month. After the first injection my immediate thought was that “this is just like a bee sting.” Based on how these meds work, I would try the bee stings before I tried the Liberation therapy.

  29. #29 Dianne
    Montreal, QC
    August 17, 2012

    followup to my previous comment: don’t forget that Aspirin is from the bark of a tree. The only difference between that and a nutritional supplement is that the aspirin has been scientifically proven to be beneficial. Maybe the bee sting therapy is beneficial and it just hasn’t been scientifically proven yet.

  30. #30 Fogell
    United States
    October 30, 2012

    One should follow these guidelines more or less
    – remove the stinger from the wound.
    – minimize the swelling by elevating the wound above the heart.
    – treat for itch and pain with over the counter anti-histamines.

  31. #31 Cheryl
    Australia
    November 2, 2012

    I was diagnosed with MS 2 years ago. Most of us do try anything to combat this disease. I haven’t tried Bee Venom, as I am lucky enough not to have any ongoing symptoms. I firmly believe this disease can be managed/staved off by reducing the saturated fats in your diet. For those with MS please visit http://www.swankmsdiet.org/ or http://www.overcomingmultiplesclerosis.org/ SWANKS MS DIET WORKS – Have hope and take control of your life.

  32. #32 kris
    chicago
    November 3, 2012

    i had a lower back problem for years. i got a few stings in the area, and after months since i feel like new. so far.
    the only thing is, the itch is impossible and it lasts for days. but it could be pleasant upon scratching.

  33. #33 Brian R Johnson
    United States
    January 4, 2013

    I’ve had MS for 25 years. My MS is very mild with extremely minor affects. Cheryl is absolutely correct. a diet low in saturated fats, no animal proteins is key to controlling your MS. I’ve been vegetarian for 11 of the 25 years i’ve had MS and went vegan when I found out I had it. That’s another 12 years. I’ve only had 3 flare ups in the 25 years. The diet is imperative to controlling MS. Now for bee venom. I’ve read about it and it’s benefit to relieving pain and restoring movement in hands, arms, legs. I’m interested in it to improve my fine motor skill in my left hand and maybe help with my gait.

  34. #34 manda Pendleton
    Veiux fort , st Lucia
    January 25, 2013

    I am working as an apitherapist in the Caribbean.
    50 patients or more per day and over 2 years there has not been one client who has not seen an improvement for ANY condition, including complete kidney failure. Spurning from the wisdom of ancient Egypt , sting therapy was used also by Ancient Greek doctors including Hippocrates the “father” of “modern” medicine. The simple fact is that nature is the greatest healer. The drugs don’t work they only trick and further toxify the body. The bee is the hardest working being of this world – it uses this powerfull energy to cleanse Ur blood and release toxins – the true reason most people are sick. U can laugh and think u know everything as a “scientist” but there is far more to be discovered. I have never found anything to be more effective for chronic pain and am virtually pain free after 1 month of therapy – see http://www.beeLuvapitherapy.webs.com

  35. #35 meagan
    chicago
    March 9, 2013

    Does anyone know of a place that provides bee venom therapy in or around the northern illinois area? I’ve been researching everywhere, but no one does it. Thanks!

  36. #36 RMDRED
    March 14, 2013

    Dr. Klenner Protocol for MS along with swank diet. Keep in mind we truly know so little about the human body much less all the environmental interactions. 80-100 trillion cells with roughly 60,000 chemical reactions per second and roughly 200 million more natural flora than human cells all walking around in one live petri dish…..man what a beautiful entity.. Anyway, each MS patient, I imagine is a little different as to what is the cause and the fix, but there may be some protocols that work for most or at least have a positive effect. I have read that the Herpes virus and Candida may at least be major players, which may explain the saturated fat and high sugar diets progressing faster. Bee venom therapy may awaken the immune system to the areas being stung, which may cause a depressed immune system to get active again and go after any microbes that have evaded it. I think we can all agree that medical studies have gotten more difficult to fully trust as, I have been told by some in the academic research process, it is often manipulated. So is there really any hard science? I do think with those terminal diseases that have no help from the medical establishment must be allowed to try anything that may bring a glimmer of hope. I also believe we need to take a really hard look at our environment, food and water. Being in the medical profession I am seeing more and more diseases at younger and younger ages and the common denominator seems to be what we are exposed to and ingesting. I wish all with any disease GODs blessing.

  37. #37 Mary
    Traverse City Michigan, but Texan
    March 24, 2013

    I’ll try it!

  38. #38 carl burns
    ocean springs, ms
    March 27, 2013

    i have honey bees. anyone i know that has them would supply bees to help, or at least try.

  39. #39 Bob Gagnon
    Lowell, Ma
    April 7, 2013

    In 2006 I got stung accidentally in my arthritic left knee. Within a day or two the swelling and pain went away, and is still gone now almost 7 years later. There was no placebo effect because I had no preconceived notion that bee stings could work, I had never heard of it. I am about to sting my other knee because the pain there is getting unbearable, and if it works half as good as the accidental stinging I will be a happy man.

  40. #40 Duane & Valarie Simon
    biloxi ms.
    April 28, 2013

    My wife has progressive degenerate MS. She can only walk with the aid of a walker for short distances. The MS has had a profound impact in so many areas of her life. If there is anyone out there to help steer us to a Dr. willing to help her start the bee sting therapeutic please let us know. thanks

  41. #41 alicia
    Colorado
    May 17, 2013

    I have MS and just started doing the Bee Venom Therapy and does make me feel better.

  42. #42 alicia
    May 17, 2013

    To Duane, I don’t have any Doctor do it, not an option were I live. I capture them in the yard and then make them string me.

    Bees are actually gentle and do not want to sting. The ones I use are caught in a jar and then its shook to make it angry. Then I get onto my skin and push on it until it will sting.

    Good Luck!

  43. #43 Duane & Valarie Simon
    biloxi ms.
    May 19, 2013

    Alicia, what I’m looking for is finding out the number of bee strings and how often based on her stage of MS. Her ms is progressive degenerate there in no options. such as shots to try and slow it down. At this point any information would be welcomed news..

  44. #44 JMG
    Vancouver British Columbia Canada
    June 6, 2013

    I was diagnosed with Remitting/Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis in December of 1997, just six short months after graduating from high-school with better than honor role grades and a wealth of scholarships. I can quite attest, the affect MS has upon those without it, how they now see me as an already dead walking and talking disease, I thought humans had evolved beyond that prejudice of lesser health.

    I’ve talked with other MSer’s, all of whom state that bee venom/sting therapy is nothing more than some old/new age hippie snake oil. They do admit that during the procedure, they did feel physically better, but all attribute that to their psychological state and the demeanour of the hocus pocus sting therapist. On lady even told me how the sting therapist, not a registered doctor, was more of a used car salesman, paying her excessive compliments, telling her how brave she is, even claiming that he had some special bees imported from Africa that work wonders for MS. This lady, who is quite smart, informed him that Health Canada and Customs Canada do not allow the importation of live insects as they could become an envasive species, just like how Killer Bees came about. The sting therapist, still not a doctor, claimed he had special medical permits for them, which he couldn’t produce, and that he would smuggle them into the country illegally sometimes. She added that his townhouse complex backyard clinic was only open for several weeks during one summer, never to grace another customer again.

    Personally, I’ve found Marijuana to solve nearly all of my MS related ills.

    - Neuropathic pain down from an 8/10 to a 2 or 3/10
    - Muscle spasams from 7 down to a 4
    - Insomina from a 9 down to 4
    - Entire left side of body cramping is now gone
    - Would have 5 to 8 episodic relapses per year before without cannabis
    - Have been completely relapse free since using cannabis for the past 4 years

    Additionally, I do read scientific research papers upon every subject, but mostly those upon psychology, evolutionary psychology, high energy physics, papers upon Marijuana, and many upon MS. By statement of many researchers, Multiple Sclerosis and Mary Jane were made for one another. To date, there is no drug, no therapy or treatment that comes close to the safety and efficacy of Marijuana.

    Too bad I have to break the law to treat a diease that every doctor thus far refuses to touch. But I’d rather smoke pot, work, be happy, productive and run the risk of getting caught as opposed to not toking, living my life in a bed, having all that pain, and not being able to work.

    Add to that, weed lightens my MS stricken mood, allowing me to laugh at the doctors and researchers chasing the magic goose egg money pit of CCSVI, which apparentlly was already disproven in the early 1970′s

  45. #45 Elvira Bates
    Mackay Queensland Australia
    July 5, 2013

    in the last 8 or 9 year I have been convinced that some doctors will lie to keep pharmaceutical companies happy. I was told by friends that pawpaw leaf extract could cure some cancers, when I heard that, of cause I first thought this is bull or a wives tale but I thought I should ask a doctor he told me that pawpaw leaf extract can cure some cancers but doctors are only allowed to verify this they are not allowed to tell their patient if they don’t ask about it, the reason for this is that the people who make the medicines wouldn’t make any money. I think that this may be the case for other therapies too. Another reason for people showing a good result my be the result of faith healing, not in the religious sense but in the absolute faith in the treatment , it amazing what or brains can do for us when we let it.

  46. #46 Duane & Valarie Simon
    biloxi ms.
    August 11, 2013

    Thanks JMG for your input, we will give mary jane a try.

  47. #47 P Wills
    August 20, 2013

    The abstract methods for the paper titled ‘A randomized crossover study of bee sting therapy for multiple schlerosis’ read as follows:

    ” In a randomized, crossover study, we assigned 26 patients with relapsing-remitting or relapsing secondary progressive MS to 24 weeks of medically supervised bee sting therapy or 24 weeks of no treatment.”

    I think one needs to be more skeptical and analytic toward papers where such small statistical groups (small numbers) of subjects (mice) are used.

    Dividing the the population into 2 groups provides 13 mice on which to perform analysis and statistics which receive bee venom therapy.

    Since the actual causes and structure of M.S. are not really understood, only the many possible results/attributes of the condition, and that M.S. is a broad umbrella term used to cover what may be a very large spectrum of neuralogical disorders (ie: like the word ‘cancer’ describes many different cellular diseases), 13 mice are not enough to provide any conclusive statistical evidence at all.

    M.S. test subject mice are not true M.S. patients either since the biochemistry is different for hisaminic reactions in mice as compared to primates.
    This is true for many species. For example bears which have almost no reaction to bees at all and can eat a complete hive.

    I suggest this research need be redone using human test groups 2 orders of magnitude larger, and the class of M.S. for each subject in both the control and test groups be tested to see what variety each individual represents. There should also be a non-M.S. group for both control and test.

    Who sponsored the research for this paper?