"BORT" is a member of American Apitherapy Society.
Apitherapy is, simply said, the use of Bee Products to Prevent, Heal or Recover somebody from one or more diseases/conditions. It is also "the Art and Science of treatment and Holistic Healing through the honeybee and her products for the benefit of Mankind and all the Animal Kingdom."
These products are said to be effective against a wide range of ailments, from arthritis and chronic pain to multiple sclerosis and cancer, although few scientific studies have as yet proved their benefits.
The history of apitherapy extends back to ancient Egypt, Greece, and China. Even Hippocrates, the Greek physician known as the "father of medicine," used bee venom to treat arthritis and other joint problems.
Austrian physician Phillip Terc initiated the modern study of bee venom and intentional bee stings when he published his article "Report about a Peculiar Connection Between the Beestings and Rheumatism" in 1888. The late beekeeper Charles Mraz of Middlebury, Vermont, is credited with popularizing bee venom therapy over the past 60 years in the United States. Today, thousands of medical professionals and lay practitioners use apitherapy throughout the world.
Apitherapy works by promoting healthy cell and tissue growth, improving circulation, reducing inflammation and by encouraging an active immune response.
Bee venom therapy is the most complex of the different types of apitherapy. Always have an allergy test before beginning a course of treatment and always consult a trained practitioner for the treatments. Because honeybee venom is not closely related to wasp or yellow jacket venom, an allergy to those insects does not necessarily rule out being able to have honeybee venom therapy. Nevertheless, careful testing and supervision is a must in all situations. (Eventually, you can learn to administer the treatments at home, either by yourself or with the help of a partner.)
In BVT, the venom is administered by injection, either by needle or by bee sting. Although some practitioners inject the venom with a hypodermic needle, your practitioner may place the bees, one at a time, directly on your skin with a pair of long tweezers and allow them to sting. The bees are typically placed close to the joint, muscle, or other body part that needs treatment.
Obviously, the bee sting can be a bit painful, but it's nothing to be anxious about. In fact, honeybee stings are much less painful than wasp or hornet stings. The degree of discomfort is basically in proportion to how you respond to pain. The first sting is always the worst because you don't know what to expect. Once you know what it feels like, the experience definitely gets easier.
There have been few controlled scientific studies proving the value of bee venom, bee pollen, raw honey, royal jelly, or propolis, but there are many anecdotal reports about their health benefits. (One difficulty with controlled studies of bee venom is that a proper placebo is impossible to create; if you're stung by a bee, you know it.)
Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, bee venom is commonly used to treat diseases such as arthritis, bursitis, and tendinitis. It is also used to relieve chronic back and neck pain. Some apitherapists report that bee venom can also help break down and soften scar tissue, flattening scars and lightening them. This idea is supported by the fact that bee venom contains powerful enzymes that can break through scar tissue.
Bee venom therapy is additionally reported to decrease spasms and fatigue in multiple sclerosis patients and to increase the patients' stability. The National Multiple Sclerosis Association funded research at Allegheny University in Philadelphia to explore the possible benefits of apitherapy. The preliminary results of experiments conducted with laboratory mice, reported in 1998, found no beneficial effect against the course of an MS-like disease. Research is ongoing, however.
Venom is synthesized by honey bees for only one purpose: as a defensive agent against predators, primarily large mammalian and other vertebrate predators. In
order to be of defensive value the venom must induce pain, cause damage, or have some other pharmacological or sensory activity in the potential predator.
Bee venom, unlike many other insect allomones, or chemical defenses, is water soluble, not fat soluble, and must be injected or applied to moist tissues to
be active. This water solubility is an advantage as it allows a whole new suite of highly active defensive compounds to be used. Bee venom is composed of a
diversity of proteins, peptides, active amines, and other compounds which possess a variety of activities. The main pain-inducing and lethal
component appears to be melittin and this component might be responsible for much of the activity of bee venom in apitherapy use.
Mankind has used bee venom primarily for apitherapy to treat a variety of autoimmune diseases, with recent usage for immunotherapy of bee sting allergic
patients. The immunotherapy use will not be considered further for further discussion. Apitherapy has been particularly successful with individuals
suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and multiple sclerosis, but a variety of other immune disorders including scleroderma and asthma have been treated.
The benefit of apitherapy for treatment of arthritis has received some research attention by the medical establishment.
Some of the problems in demonstrating efficacy of bee venom treatments for immune diseases stem from the very nature of immune disorders. Immune
disorders are characterized by "flare ups" and remissions that occur unpredictably. In addition, immune disorders are particularly susceptible to
treatment placebo effects. These two factors combine to make clinical research trials on immune diseases very difficult and often inconclusive. These same
problems also plague medical research concerned with evaluating established treatments. In the cases of arthritis and multiple sclerosis, modern medicine has
no cures, it simply treats to suppress symptoms. The established treatments include use of steroids, strong anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, antimalarials, and gold salts - drugs with serious side effects, and that often fail to deliver relief. This frustrating situation led one researcher to comment "rheumatoid arthritis rarely kills the patient; corticosteroids often do". These problems lead this writer to observe that apitherapy has never killed anyone and has negligible side effects. Thus, what valid criticisms can be raised against apitherapy for rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis?
The question arises: how does bee venom work? The answer is not clear, but we have some hints. Bee venom has anti-inflammatory effects, it might well
"shock" the immune system which somehow might correct imbalances, it causes pain, and it might stimulate the nervous system which, in turn, can exert
influence on the immune system. Bee venom possesses chemical components responsible for these activities: anti-inflammatory action - mast cell
degranulating peptide, apamin; "shocks" immune system - phospholipase A2, hyaluronidase; pain - melittin; stimulates nervous system - melittin, apamin,
mast cell degranulating peptide. Overall, bee venom appears to have the chemical properties to affect the immune system and immune disorders, and
apitherapy has been shown to work in many cases - so all that is needed is a clearer understanding of how apitherapy works and to convince mainstream
practitioners to use apitherapy.
Honey is a supersaturated solution of sugars, mainly fructose, glucose, and maltose-like sugars, with traces of sucrose, glucose oxidase, hydrogen peroxide,
phenolics, flavonoids, terpenes, etc. The sugars make honey hygroscopic (moisture absorbing) and viscous, and the sugar concentration plus other factors
including low pH, hydrogen peroxide, and the flavonoids, phenolics and terpenes make honey antimicrobial or prevent microbial growth.
The main use of honey is as a flavorful sweetener and energy source which is eaten with and as a component of a wide variety of foods. The sweetness is
from the sugars, particularly fructose, and flavor is created by a wide variety of trace essences derived from plant esters, alcohols, aldehydes, and other
compounds. Secondary, but important, uses of honey are for the promotion of health and well being. Some of these uses include aiding in the healing of
wounds, healing of serious skin burns, and healing gastric ulcers. The basis for the wound and burn healing properties of honey is its antimicrobial,
moisturizing/fluid removal, and oxygen barrier properties. By keeping a wound or burn clean and moist, and free from bacteria and the damaging effects of
oxygen, the wound can heal much more quickly than if left unaided. Modern creams and antibiotics may help heal these types of wounds, but they often have
the disadvantages of killing tissue and causing heavy scabs and scars. The healing properties of honey were clearly demonstrated in a study comparing
honey treatment to that of silver sulfadiazine, the standard treatment, for burn victims. The results of the study clearly showed that honey treatments
resulted in a much greater sterility of the wounds, a faster rate of healing, and a faster onset of healing. Similar results have been shown by T. Postmes in
tests with burned pigs. In these experiments, honey was shown not only to be better than standard treatments, but also better than artificial honey made from
the sugars, but omitting the glucose oxidase, hydrogen peroxide, flavonoids, and other minor components of honey.
For many years, advocates have claimed that honey can help treat gastric ulcers. With recent discoveries, an understanding of how this can occur has
emerged. Until recently the bacterial origin of gastric ulcers was unknown. Now, the culprit is known to be the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. Some honey has
been shown to inhibit H. pylori and the flavonoid content and low pH of honey likely aid in stimulating growth and healing.
Pollen as trapped by beekeepers from honey bee colonies is a product collected from many, often dozens, of species of plants visited by the bees. This feature
enhances the nutritional balance of the pollen, but also means that bee pollen is not a uniform product, rather it varies somewhat from sample to sample. This
variability complicates the analysis of pollen chemistry and requires that statements vis-a-vis pollen be given as averages or as values for a specific
species of pollen. All chemical and nutritional analyses here will be given as means derived from large numbers of literature reports that appear reliable.
In general, compared to many standard human foods, pollen is rich in protein, low in fat, and possesses a wealth of minerals and vitamins. No obvious human nutritional deficiencies are present in pollen with the possible exceptions of vitamin B12 and the fat soluble vitamins D and K. In the case of B12, the vitamin is not usually in shortage because the body usually retains a multi-year reserve. Shortage only occurs in cases of defective body recycling (pernicious anemia) and is particularly needed for pregnant women who have metabolic deficiencies, or are strict vegetarians.
Vitamin D is somewhat of a misnomer, as it is not truly a vitamin. Humans can synthesize the vitamin from 7-dehydrocholesterol if they are exposed to sunlight.
Vitamin K is a minor vitamin whose sole role is to aid in blood clotting and which is produced naturally by intestinal bacteria. Pollen has not been analyzed in detail for some of the trace elements such as boron, chromium, molybdenum, iodine, fluoride, and selenium, but it would not be surprising if it also contained adequate quantities of these elements.
One means to evaluate the nutritional content of pollen is to compare the levels of dietary nutrients in good wholesome food to those in pollen. Pollen ranks number 1 in quantity for four of the nutrients, number 2 for another four, and ranked lower only for vitamin C, sodium, and fat. Overall, pollen has a higher ranking than any of the compared foods, even tomatoes and cabbage which are considered to be classic examples of the most nutritious foods available. In terms of protein, pollen ranked number 2, and above beef. The overall conclusion is that pollen is a food source par excellence that is probably not exceeded by any other food. The one caveat is that pollen is much too expensive to be considered a primary food and, indeed, consumption of large quantities can cause adverse effects (4). However, this does not preclude pollen from being an excellent food supplement which can enhance the health and well-being of individuals, especially those who otherwise might have an unbalanced diet.
Pollen or pollen products have been shown to have several beneficial applications for human use. Pollen has been successfully used for treatment of
some cases of benign prostatitis and for oral desensitization of children who have pollen allergy. Bee pollen has been reported to assist in weight loss. Reports indicate that if you wish to reduce your weight, taking bee pollen 30 minutes before meals (on an empty stomach), aids in curbing appetite.
Royal jelly is a creamy product secreted by young nurse worker bees for feeding to the queen, queen larvae, and other young larvae. It is totally synthesized by the bees in the hypopharyngeal and mandibular glands and is derived from the proteins and nutrients in the pollen ingested by the secreting bees. Royal jelly consists of an emulsion of proteins, sugars, and lipids in a water base. The proteins have no particularly unusual properties and have the main
presumed function of providing the growing larva or the queen a readily digested source of protein. The remainder of the composition, except the lipids, also
appears to be oriented toward providing a balance of nutrients for the consuming individuals.
For humans, royal jelly possesses the appealing properties of being a creamy emulsion that is strongly antibacterial. These make it an ideal
component of cosmetics and skin care products.
Royal jelly contains twenty-two amino acids, eight of which are the essential amino acids our bodies need but cannot produce on their own. If your body does not have enough of an amino acid, then some bodily function is likely to be thrown off balance. Below is a list of the amino acids and their functions:
Essential Amino Acids
♦ tryptophan Considered a natural relaxant, it helps to relieve insomnia, is used to treat migraines, reduces heart and arterial spasms, and works with lysine to reduce cholesterol.
♦ Lysine Aids in the absorption of calcium, assists in the formation of collagen for bones, cartilage and connective tissues. Lysine also helps to produce antibodies, hormones and enzymes and has been known to alleviate the symptoms of people afflicted with herpes.
♦ Methionine Provides a primary source of sulfur resulting in healthy skin hair and nails. Also assists with lowering cholesterol levels, reduces liver fat and protects the kidney.
♦ Phenylaline Reduces hunger pains, arthritis symptoms, menstrual cramps, migraine headaches, acts as an antidepressant, and improves memory. Phenylaline is also instrumental in the production of norepinephrine, which is responsible for transmitting signals between nerve cells and the brain.
♦ Theronine Makes up a substantial portion of collagen, elastin, and enamel proteins. Prevents buildup in the liver, aids in digestive and intestinal tract function and acts as a trigger for metabolism.
♦ Valine Promotes mental energy, helps muscle coordination and serves as a natural tranquilizer.
♦ Leucine Promotes mental alertness, and works with isoleucine to provide the manufacture of essential biochemical processes in the body for energy.
Non-Essential Amino Acids
♦ Glycine Increases the effectiveness of the immune system, assists in the manufacture of hormones, and facilitates the release of oxygen for cell making processes.
♦ Serine Synthesizes a fatty acid sheath around nerve fibers, and provides antibodies for the immune system.
♦ Glutamic Acid Also known as natures brain food, Glutamic Acid is thought to increase mental prowess and energy, and to speed the healing of tumors.
♦ Arginine Aids in liver detoxification, healthy skin, strengthening of the immune system, and promotes the production of several hormones including; glucagons, insulin, and growth hormones.
♦ Creatine Assists in building muscles and is not produced in large quantities by the body. The natural supply of Creatine is depleted after about 10 seconds of vigorous exercise.
♦ Carnitine Assists in the burning of fat, especially in the liver and heart.
♦ Glutamine Aids in the treatment of ulcers, intestinal ailments, arthritis, tissue damage, connective tissue diseases, and aids in learning by increasing mental alertness and memory.
♦ Histadine A compound released by the immune system during allergic reactions.
♦ N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) Helps the body synthesize glutathione (an antioxidant). It has been shown that low levels of glutathione can leave the body vulnerable to further immune compromise in HIV-infected individuals.
Not only are all of the above amino acids resident in royal jelly, it also has many vitamins, as listed below:
♦ Vitamin A For vision, bone growth, reproduction, cell division and cell differentiation. An antioxidant, vitamin A also helps maintain the integrity of mucous membranes and skin, and strengthens the immune system.
♦ Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) Enhances circulation, helps with blood formation and is required for a healthy nervous system. Great for the brain, thiamine can improve memory and learning, and is required in children for growth. Thiamine is also believed to help with arthritis, cataracts, and infertility.
♦ Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) Improves metabolism (needed to synthesize proteins, carbohydrates and fats), helps activate vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) and Folic Acid, another B vitamin. Important for growth and red blood cell production.
♦ Vitamin B3 (Niacin) Balances the metabolism, reduces "bad" cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) and increases "good" cholesterol (HDL).
♦ Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) Used to break down carbohydrates, proteins and fats and is beneficial to the maintenance of healthy skin, nerves and muscles.
♦ Vitamin B6 Assists with the formation and health of red blood cells and blood vessels, nerve function, gums and teeth. Aids the metabolism of amino acids found in protein, depression and PMS.
♦ Vitamin B12 Necessary for the rapid synthesis of DNA in cell division (this is important in the creation of bone marrow), the formation of red blood cells, a healthy nervous system, and aids in the prevention of anemia.
♦ Acetylcholine Used as a neurotransmitter and is important to the stimulation of muscle tissue.
♦ Ecanoic acid Aids the immune system by supporting the production of antibodies.
♦ Gamma Globulin Boosts the immune system, and helps the immune system create antibodies. Sometimes Gamma Globulin is injected directly into patients who have been exposed to certain diseases for a quick immune system boost.
♦ Vitamin C A powerful antioxidant, known to be beneficial to nearly every organ in the human body, is critical to the immune system, and is said to be toxic to some malignant cancer cells.
♦ Vitamin D Contributes to a healthy skeleton by strengthening bones.
♦ Vitamin E Another powerful antioxidant known for its ability to assist the body in ridding itself of free-radicals.
♦ Vitamin K Critical to proper control of blood clotting supports proper bone formation and repair, also may help prevent or minimize osteoporosis.
It is really no wonder that some people refer to royal jelly as natures pharmacy.
Beeswax is synthesized de novo by honey bees in four pairs of glands located on the ventral side of the abdomen. Bees use the wax as their primary building
material for making combs for rearing their brood and for storage of honey and pollen. Beeswax is composed of a variety of monoesters, diesters, hydroxylated
esters, hydrocarbons, and free fatty acids. This composition distinguishes the material as a wax rather than a fat because it is composed mostly of esters and long chained hydrocarbons, classic wax components, triglycerides and diglycerides, typical of fats, are missing. The chemistry of the beeswax components is ideal for the uses of it by both bees and man. These components, and the wax itself, are not soluble in water (or honey), repel water soluble materials, remain strong to temperatures of 50 C, are reasonably flexible, and are not readily degraded or decomposed by moisture or microorganisms. The strength, flexibility, and waterproofing qualities of beeswax have made it an excellent material for polishes, finishes, and waxes that preserve, add shine, and generally enhance products coated with it. Beeswax stability also makes it an excellent wax for addition to cosmetics and skin products. Historically, beeswax was an excellent material for making molds for castings; indeed, even today we have artifacts over 3000 years old that were produced by the lost-wax process. Beeswax also burns with a clean flame and produces a pleasant odor. This, plus the resistance of beeswax to degradation, has made it ideal for use as candles. The stable, flexible, and preserving properties of beeswax are good for use as waxes for musical instrument strings, skis, archery, and a variety of other specialty uses. Finally, the flexibility, safety, stability, and ability to accept colors of beeswax has made it a prime material for modern crafts and hobbies for both children and adults.
Bee propolis, very simply, is brown colored bee glue. Bees create propolis by mixing the resins gathered from the leaf buds and bark of trees with wax, pollen, and natural enzymes produced by the bees bodies. Honeybees use this substance to construct and repair the hive, as well as for insulation. Bee propolis also exhibits natural antibacterial and anti-viral qualities, making the beehive a virtually sterile environment.
Bee propolis, in its raw form, is approximately 50% resin, 35% wax, 5% pollen, and 10% essential oils. This raw propolis has a sharp, almost bitter taste, with an aroma of honey or vanilla.
Propolis is extremely high in bioflavonoids, which are well known plant compounds that have antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. Bioflavnoids are believed to be an active ingredient in the healing process.
Bee propolis is also rich in B-complex vitamins, protovitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Bee propolis contains amino acids, minerals and trace elements such as calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, silica, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, cobalt and copper.
Bee propolis has also been used for local anesthetic, reducing spasms, healing, gastric ulcers, and strengthening capillaries. Humans can use propolis both internally and externally.
Some people use special vaporizers to reportedly eliminate microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, acari, fungi and molds) from the environment in buildings.
Since the 1950s, bee propolis has been studied by scientists, and found to have many beneficial contents. One of the findings indicates, bee propolis works against bacteria by preventing bacterial cell division, and also has been known to break down bacterial walls and cytoplasm.
Bee propolis, like other bee products, is very high in nutritional content, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Bee propolis also has a very high bioflavonoid content. Bioflavnoids are believed to be paramount to the healing process.
Except for vitamin K, bee propolis has all the known vitamins, and except for sulfur, bee propolis contains all of the minerals required by the body. Some of the vitamins and minerals found in bee propolis are: Vitamin A (carotene), Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Biotin, Albumin, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Silica, Potassium, Phosphorus, Manganese, Cobalt, Copper .
Bee propolis contains 500 more bioflavnoids (vitamin P) than is found in oranges, and sixteen amino acids. An astounding discovery was that bee propolis actually contains a chemical that is similar to a drug that the FDA has approved for fighting colon cancer.
Bee propolis is comprised of 50% to 70% resins and balsams, 30% to 50 % wax, 5% to 10% bee pollen, and 10% essential oils.
Like royal jelly and bee pollen, propolis contains a number of unidentified compounds that work together synergistically to create a balanced, nutritive substance. These substances work together with the body to increase health more than any of them working alone. This is called synergy, what happens when the whole result is greater than the sum of its parts.
As well as having the nutritional values as outlined above, bee propolis is reputed to have antibacterial, antiviral, antibiotic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant qualities.
Bee propolis is made from a mixture of the resins of leaf buds, tree bark, bee pollen and natural enzymes manufactured by the bees bodies. Bee propolis is used in the hive for construction and repair, resulting in an extremely sterile environment.
Natural bee propolis, like many honeybee-manufactured products, is extremely high in nutrients required by the human body, but not produced by the body. Bee propolis is a substance that is created for the construction, repair, and maintenance of the honeybee hive.
In the hive, bees use propolis to line the entire structure of the hive, as well as lining the cells that the queen bee lays her eggs in. This is necessary because beehives are warm, moist environments, ideal for bacterial and fungal infestation. Bee propolis has built in antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral qualities. This natural product, produced by the bees by mixing wax, bee pollen, and natural enzymes with tree and bark resins, creates a virtually sterile environment for the bees to thrive.
Humans can, and have, used bee propolis for a huge variety of ailments externally, internally and environmentally. Some people have used bee propolis in a vaporized form, using special vaporizers, in houses to reduce bacteria, and other harmful environmental hazards.
Bee propolis has been used for many varieties of ailments and afflictions, it is commonly used in conjunction with other bee products such as: bee pollen, honey, and royal jelly.
Bee propolis is used both internally and externally. It has been mixed with various creams to fight off skin irritations, and infections. It has been produced in pill form to be taken orally.
It is important to note, that you should always use natural bee propolis. Many forms of bee propolis are processed. Like most processed items, humans are generally attempting to improve upon nature, this rarely is the case, however. The reality is generally the opposite, by processing the bee propolis; they are removing the majority of the benefits.
Natural bee propolis should be a brownish color, very sticky, and have a honey or vanilla aroma. Natural propolis will also have a sharp bitter taste.
There are over 150 different substances in natural bee propolis; some of them are yet to be identified. The most important of these substances are the bioflavonoids. This is where bee propolis gets its anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti fungal properties. These same properties are said to pass to the user, whether used internally, externally, or in the environment.