As a person diagnosed with and treating Lyme disease, a disease with no known cure and life-debilitating symptoms, I find myself coming across "sure-cures" every day. One such cure that's been floating around for a while is Apitherapy or bee venom therapy. Ellie Lobel, who had been fighting chronic Lyme disease for nearly 20 years, was cured of Lyme disease when she was attacked by Africanized honey bees.
I know, it's hard to fathom. But when you read the story in the BBC News, you'll have a greater understanding. Apitherapy, the use of honey and other bee products to treat various health problems, has been used for centuries and can be traced back to ancient Egypt, Greece, and China. It's has been found in many religious texts including the Veda, Bible, and Quran. And it's been scientifically studied.
After years of failed treatments, Lobel's health was deteriorating quickly and doctors had told her there was nothing more they could do for her. She traveled to California for end-of-life care. While she and a caretaker were on a short walk, they were attacked by Africanized honey bees. The caretaker ran, but Lobel was unable to get away. The bees stung her repeatedly, hundreds of times, then stopped. As she was allergic to bees, she expected to die from anaphylaxis, and refused further medical treatment since she was certain she was dying from Lyme anyway. Curiously, within days, her health rebounded, all of her Lyme symptoms disappeared and from there she began to live her life with no more Lyme symptoms. She still practices apitherapy occasionally. Her story seems implausible, but there is enough medical reference and history to validate it. I'm over-simplifying her story, so go read Ellie's story for more details and the research behind bee venom treatment.
As someone mildly allergic to bees myself, I'm not about to jump right into this treatment. Yet, there has been promising scientific research behind bee venom therapy. Throughout the 20th Century, venom treatments have appeared in scientific and medical literature and shown to fight cancer, kill bacteria and serve as potent painkillers. They've also found melittin, the venom found in honey bees, fights off fungi with ease. In 1997, Rocky Mountain laboratories in Montana found that melittin killed Borrelia, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, in vitro.
One of Lyme disease's most famous researchers, Eva Sapi, of University of New Haven, is continuing to research bee venom. One of the biggest challenges in treating Lyme disease today is that it has three forms. The antibiotics used only treat one form each, thus a patient with late stage Lyme disease usually has to take many types of antibiotics over a long-term, to fight each form, in order to eradicate the bacteria. Otherwise using only one antibiotic to fight one form can just cause the bacteria to go dormant into another form not affected by that same antibiotic. Sapi has found that metlittin venom is effective on all forms of the Borrelia bacteria. There are still many questions to be answered such as, is metlittin effective because it's killing the Borrelia, or is it effective because it stimulates the immune system to attack it? There is still much research to be done before human trials can be started.
It wouldn't surprise me in the least if bee venom turned out to be Borrelia's worst nightmare. Nature finds a way to keep balance.
A few years ago, shortly after I had started exhibiting symptoms for Lyme disease, I had been stung by bees on several different occasions. Once on my lip, a few on my hand, then one on face that landed me in the hospital. My entire face swelled up. What was strange was I never near nests or swarms. Each sting was completely out of the blue by a single bee. It was like they knew. (Cue the Twilight zone music.)
I love the bees. And while I have a healthy respect for them and keep my distance within 1-2 feet when I photograph them, I don't have any fear of them. And if tomorrow, the proverbial "they" tell me Bee venom is 100% the most effective way to cure Lyme, I may just find myself becoming a bee-keeper! Hell, if I can give myself a daily shot in the stomach, I can totally handle a few bee stings.
On another note, Lobel also started BeeVinity, a line of skin care products derived from bee venom acquired non-harmfully from honey bees (they don't lose their stinger or die when collecting the venom). It seems like a great product and something I could totally wrap my head around and try if I wasn't thinking about just maintaining my basic health 24/7. So check it out. Let me know if you are diggin on the BeeVinity skin care products!
Have a fantastic April readers! And BEE Healthy!