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THE POWER OF BEE VENOM

a weapon against man's worst ailments?
By Dr Philip Riachy

Bees are man’s best insect friend. Since the Palaeolithic era, the benefits of the bees and the advantages of their products have been known and used - they are even responsible for many important historical achievements such as the pharaohs’ mummies that lasted for thousands of years. Even though there is a lot we know about bees and their products, scientists are still discovering new benefits every day showing us that we still have a lot to learn about our oldest insect friends. In this article, I will discuss a bee product that is not produced routinely but is the core of the defence mechanism of the bees and their colonies. This product is the “Bee Venom”.


Bee venom is produced by a special gland at the end of the abdomen of the bee, it is stored in the venom sac. This venom contains a lot of chemical compounds, while many scientists have tried to isolate and identify them, the exact composition still eludes even the best analytical methods. The components that have been identified so far are:

Enzymes

o Phospholipase A2

o Hyaluronidase

o Phosphomonoesterase acid

o α-D-Glucosidase

o Lysophospholipase

Polypeptides

o Mellitin

o Mellitin F

o Apamin

o Peptide 401 

o Secapin

o Tertiapin

o Protease Inhibitor

Procamine A, B

Low Molecular Weight Organic Constituents

o Histamine

o Dopamine

o Noradrenaline

These components have been studied separately and in tandem for their toxicological and pharmacological properties. It has been reported that bee venom is a complete entity in itself and its components while useless on their own, each play a specific role and are very potent when in tandem. 

This venom, when injected by a bee, causes an unpleasant feeling, local irritation and pain for a human being, and in some cases, causes an allergic reaction. But this same venom when injected in a specific zone or area can have very beneficial effects on the health.

Bee venom has been used traditionally as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug for the relief of pain and the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, in oriental traditional medicine as well as in recent times in the treatment of tumours. In recent years, scientists have found evidence that bee venom possesses radioprotective, antimutagenic, anti-inflammatory, antinociceptive and anticancer properties. Moreover, recent studies reported that bee venom has several effects such as the induction of apoptosis and necrosis and effects on proliferation, cytotoxicity and growth inhibition of different types of cancer cells. 

In conclusion, while we have researched expansively for cures to ailments fatal and minor, a promising answer from mother nature has been in front of us the whole time in the distributor of a tiny stinger, reminding us that we are indeed still in need of her treasured resources.

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