To bee or not to bee

The potential efficacy and safety of bee venom acupuncture in humans

Evan Paul Cherniack, Sergey Govorushko

Research output: Contribution to journalShort survey

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Bee venom acupuncture is a form of acupuncture in which bee venom is applied to the tips of acupuncture needles, stingers are extracted from bees, or bees are held with an instrument exposing the stinger, and applied to acupoints on the skin. Bee venom is a complex substance consisting of multiple anti-inflammatory compounds such as melittin, adolapin, apamin. Other substances such as phospholipase A2 can be anti-inflammatory in low concentrations and pro-inflammatory in others. However, bee venom also contains proinflammatory substances, melittin, mast cell degranulation peptide 401, and histamine. Nevertheless, in small studies, bee venom acupuncture has been used in man to successfully treat a number of musculoskeletal diseases such as lumbar disc disease, osteoarthritis of the knee, rheumatoid arthritis, adhesive capsulitis, and lateral epicondylitis. Bee venom acupuncture can also alleviate neurological conditions, including peripheral neuropathies, stroke and Parkinson's Disease. The treatment has even been piloted in one series to alleviate depression. An important concern is the safety of bee venom. Bee venom can cause anaphylaxis, and several deaths have been reported in patients who successfully received the therapy prior to the adverse event. While the incidence of adverse events is unknown, the number of published reports of toxicity is small. Refining bee venom to remove harmful substances may potentially limit its toxicity. New uses for bee venom acupuncture may also be considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-78
Number of pages5
JournalToxicon
Volume154
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018

Fingerprint

Acupuncture
Bee Venoms
Bees
Safety
Melitten
Toxicity
Anti-Inflammatory Agents
Tennis Elbow
Musculoskeletal Diseases
Apamin
Cell Degranulation
Bursitis
Acupuncture Points
Knee Osteoarthritis
Phospholipases A2
Peripheral Nervous System Diseases
Anaphylaxis
Mast Cells
Needles
Histamine

Keywords

  • Bee venom acupuncture
  • Efficacy
  • Safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology

Cite this

To bee or not to bee : The potential efficacy and safety of bee venom acupuncture in humans. / Cherniack, Evan Paul; Govorushko, Sergey.

In: Toxicon, Vol. 154, 01.11.2018, p. 74-78.

Research output: Contribution to journalShort survey

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