We had a good meeting last night and one of our attendees was a bee keeper. He talked about sting therapy and pollen therapy. I didn't know much about that. So I did some quick research and the following is what I found. First there is a lot, repeat a lot of BS out there on this subject. But from what reliable sources I could find here it is.
Bee venom is called apitoxin. Its main component is melitten, histamine and other biogenic amines. It is very acidic and one sting only produces 5-50 micrograms of a clear fluid.
1-3% of people are allergic to bee stings and 0.8% are severely so and can die from a sting. The result is a severe anaphylatic reaction with swelling, redness, severe itching, constriction of airways and death. These people need to carry a epipen (epinephrine) to self admininster after being stung. Bee keepers are more likely to be sensitized. John Hopkins has developed a seris of allergy injections composed of increasing concentrations of venom and it provides excellent and usually life long protection against future stings. Bee stings are used to treat allergies, arthrititis, asthma and a whole host of other disorders. First red flag. The main thing is for Multiple Sclerosis. MS is a know disease that goes through remissions and excerbations. So if one got a sting and the MS got better the phenomenon of causality takes over and people assume it was the bee sting. It was probably the natural course of the disease and the sting did nothing. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) did a study in 1998 and found no benefit.
Next Bee pollen. It is a mixture of flower pollen and nectur. It uses are said to be: alcoholism, allergies, appetite (I don't know if it is suppose to suppress or enhance), asthma, cancer prevention, Diabetes mellitus, GI disorders, health maintainence and strength and staminia enhancement. Red Flags all over the place! Pollen contains polysaccharides, protein, amino acids, minerals, carbohydrates, lipids and essential fatty acids.
Patients with allergies to bee stings or intolerance to honey should not take this stuff. The result could be hypersensitivity reactions, headaches, swelling, nausea, increase esosinphils and a disorder called esosinphilic gastroenterititis. The symptoms of this are nausea, abdomenal pain and diarrhea.
Most studies of pollen are small, uncontrolled human and animal studies. No significant clinical efficacy is reported other than its nutritional value. In 1978 a study by Steben et. al. reported in the Journal of Sports Medicine issue 18 for that year compared bee pollen and placebo in a double blind study in 18 high school athletes. After 12 weeks of training and supplementation they found no difference and hence no effect on hemaglobin, electrolytes or the athletes response with strength and stamina.
So I learned something. More BS with Bees.