What Is Apitherapy?

Apitherapy is the use of products from the bee to promote health and healing. The bee we usually use is apis melliferra (the European honey bee). The products that are involved are honey, royal jelly, pollen, propolis, beeswax and bee venom.

I will attempt to explain a little about each of them...

HONEY:

This is made from the nectar collected by bees from many different flowers. The bees store the nectar in their hive, in the concentrated form of honey, mainly for their own food.

The beekeepers harvest the honey surplus and sell it. I expect you are familiar with honey as a spread on your toast, but it can be used in cooking and drinks as well as other more unfamiliar uses - Honey is anti-bacterial and can be used for dressing wounds and burns to keep them sterile and promote healing.

ROYAL JELLY:

This is produced by the bees as food for the 'developing' bees in the colony. The queen bees are fed this during the whole of their larval period, but worker bees are fed this for the first three days of their larval period only. This encourages correct development.

Royal Jelly is produced in the glands of worker bees and is a complex mixture only known to the bees. Royal Jelly is often used in cosmetics and can be found in capsules and other products and is promoted for its youth-giving properties. It can also be used to help many illnesses.

POLLEN:

This is collected by the bees from flowers and used as the protein part of their diet. Pollen can be harvested by the beekeeper from the bees as they enter their hive. This is then cleaned and either dried or frozen before being included in natural remedies and food supplements. However, there have been reports of people having allergic reactions following the consumption of pollen and it is, therefore, recommended that a test is carried out with small amounts of pollen before taking this on a regular basis.

Pollen can be used to help people build up resistance to allergens by gradually increasing their intake and thereby decreasing the sensitivity.

PROPOLIS:

This is collected by the bees from plants and trees and is used to coat the inside of the beehive and the honeycomb cells with an antiseptic layer. It is a resinous substance and is often used in tincture, creams, cosmetics, tablets and capsules. Many people use this as an aid to healing.

BEESWAX:

This is secreted by the worker bee from special glands on the underside of her body and used to build the home in which the bees live. It is made from the honey that is eaten by the bees. Between two and four pounds of honey needs to be consumed by the bees to produce one pound of beeswax. It is used in face and hand creams, ointments, lipsticks and lipsalves, coating tablets and capsules in the pharmaceutical industry.

BEE VENOM:

This is the product of the bee's sting! and some people are allergic to it!! There are many reactions that can happen, but normally they cause a localised reaction with redness and swelling surrounding the sting area. A more severe reaction will result when the swelling increases to the whole of the limb causing problems with movement.

The most severe reactions are when the person stung has intensive skin redness, irritation and difficulty in breathing which can result in loss of consciousness. This is also known as an anaphylactic reaction and needs urgent medical help. If this is not forthcoming death may result.

If this condition is known to exist the person may carry a self-help device containing adrenaline or epinephrine, but this has to be prescribed by a doctor and is only available for the most severe of reactions. It is not meant for use where redness and swelling only are experienced. Many people who feel the boost to their immune systems, having used bee venom, often use it as a form of therapy.

There is much written about bee venom therapy and many people advocate its use for treating rheumatic diseases, arthritis and multiple sclerosis although it is condemned by many organisations. Therefore the use of this therapy should only be undertaken after careful thought, discussion with an apitherapist and your doctor. The therapy should be carefully monitored, so please DO NOT just get hold of a bee and start stinging!

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