Bee Venom: May Do More Than Sting

The benefits of honey — a natural sore throat soother — and bee pollen — a popular source of protein — have long been accepted, but another bee product is often overlooked. Bee venom is understandably associated with the insect's most unpopular trait, but recent studies are finding that the venom can also be used to treat a number of ailments.

Bee venom (or apitherapy, which refers to the medicinal use of any honey bee product) has been used to treat arthritis and multiple sclerosis and though it has yet to be confirmed by scientific research, bee venom is also said to help heal a variety of auto-immune, cardiovascular, pulmonary, gastrointestinal and neuropathic disorders.

It's not clear how exactly bee venom works, but scientists have broken down venom's key ingredients in an attempt to isolate the substance's medicinal qualities. Bee venom is primarily composed of melittin, a compound that has strong anti-inflammatory properties and that may also trigger the release of ACTH and cortisol — the body's own healing compounds.

While bee venom comes in the most natural injection package, the few doctors who choose to treat their patients with venom usually trade a bee sting for a traditional needle and harvested bee venom.

[via: The American Apitherapy Society]

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