It may appear a bit strange to many, but a new study has claimed that venom from bee stings could actually help to treat arthritis and even prevent the painful joint condition from developing in the first place.
Researchers at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil have carried out the study and found bee venom can control the harmful inflammation in joints that leads to rheumatoid arthritis.
The study has shown that the venom contains molecules that cause an increase in natural hormones in the body that regulate inflammation, ‘The Daily Telegraph’ reported.
Lead scientist Dr Suzana Beatriz Verimo de Mello said bee venom caused increased levels of anti-inflammatory hormones called glucocorticoids. “Bee venom is complex mixture of substances that are known to induce immune and allergic responses in humans.
“Nevertheless, bee venom has been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis for centuries. However, the placebo effect has been described in studies investigating bee venom anti-inflammatory properties in arthritic patients.
“Our data shows that bee venom prevents the development of induced arthritis in rabbits through the action of glucocorticoids,” she said.
Bee Sting Therapy, in which patients endure hundreds of stings by bees in the hope of getting better, is often used as a form of alternative medicine to treat conditions such as asthma and multiple sclerosis.
The new research is the first time a scientific explanation has been shown for the effect.
However, Professor Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK, warned that it may be some time before any clinical applications could be found.
He said: “Failure to have an adequate steroid response might allow rheumatoid arthritis to take hold, so the bee venom is a way of stimulating the body’s natural steroids to respond to the auto-immune processes that causes rheumatoid arthritis.
“However, knowing anecdotally that when some people with inflammatory arthritis are stung by bees their pain goes away for a short while is one thing; actually turning these early laboratory findings into a practical clinical application is quite another.”