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Honey bees help fight Lyme

Honey Bee Education Lyme

Honey bees do more then make honey and wax, they are helping some people fight Lyme disease! I had the pleasure of attending a meeting of the Kentuckiana Lyme Support Group. They are a tremendous group of people who meet once a month to provide support for those suffering from Lyme disease. If you are not aware of Lyme, it is a tick-borne bacterial infection which can be quite debilitating. Symptoms are often mistaken for other illnesses, diagnosis can be difficult and unfortunately doctors typically only test for it as a last resort. Treatment involves antibiotics, however no regimen of treatment has been shown to completely eradicate Lyme.  

The reason for my visit was to hear from some members of the group who have looked to honey bees for help. Apitherapy (using products derived from bees for medicinal purposes) has been around for thousands of years. In this case, the use of bee venom has actually provided relief for some Lyme sufferers!  Two members of the support group have been using venom therapy and have seen positive results and reduction of their symptoms. Venom therapy involves administering bee stings 3 days a week, and usually 8-10 stings per session (though it varies by individual). Of course allergic reactions can happen so they always have an Epipen at the ready. While each sting is painful, the itching and swelling that can occur becomes minimal as your body gets acclimated to the venom.

So what does bee venom do besides deliver an unpleasant sting? Bee venom contains three compounds - mellitin, adolapin, and apamin, all of which contain anti-inflammatory properties. It's the anti-inflammatory nature of the venom that is believed to help sufferers of Lyme, arthritis, MS, tendinitis, and even shingles.Venom also stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies to fight against the newly introduced unknown proteins. Lastly, bee venom may also kill the spirochete (bacteria) that infects the body of those with Lyme.  

While science has not backed bee venom as a treatment for Lyme, some sufferers of the disease have had promising results from venom therapy. When faced with the option of undergoing an expensive treatment of antibiotics with undesirable side effects and potentially limited improvement of symptoms, for some individuals bee stings may not be such a bad alternative to consider!

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