Studies on Bee Venom and Its Medical Uses

Mahmoud Abdu Al-Samie Mohamed Ali

Use of honey and other bee products in human treatments traced back thousands of years and healing properties are included in many religious texts including the Veda, Bible and Quran. Apitherapy is the use of honey bee products for medical purposes, this include bee venom, raw honey, royal jelly, pollen, propolis, and beeswax. Whereas bee venom therapy is the use of live bee stings (or injectable venom) to treat various diseases such as arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus, sciatica, low back pain, and tennis elbow to name a few. It refers to any use of venom to assist the body in healing itself. Bee venom contains at least 18 pharmacologically active components including various enzymes, peptides and amines. Sulfur is believed to be the main element in inducing the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands and in protecting the body from infections. Contact with bee venom produces a complex cascade of reactions in the human body. The bee venom is safe for human treatments, the median lethal dose (LD50) for an adult human is 2.8 mg of venom per kg of body weight, i.e. a person weighing 60 kg has a 50% chance of surviving injections totaling 168 mg of bee venom. Assuming each bee injects all its venom and no stings are quickly removed at a maximum of 0.3 mg venom per sting, 560 stings could well be lethal for such a person. For a child weighing 10 kg, as little as 93.33 stings could be fatal. However, most human deaths result from one or few bee stings due to allergic reactions, heart failure or suffocation from swelling around the neck or the mouth. As compare with other human diseases, accidents and other unusual cases, the bee venom is very safe for human treatments.
Keywords: honey bees, apitherapy, bee venom, bee sting, chemical composition, physical properties, medical uses.

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