Although the very thought of being stung by a bee may put the fear of almighty into most people, it has been scientifically proven that Honeybee venom can ease the symptoms of some human health conditions. Largely made up of a chemical called Apitoxin, the venom is a bitter colourless liquid, its active portion, a mixture of proteins, which causes local inflammation and acts as an anticoagulant. A honeybee can inject 0.1 mg of venom via its stinger.

If you’ve ever been stung by a bee, you already have firsthand experience of the basics of bee-venom therapy (also called apitherapy). You might have thought that your single encounter with a bee was enough, but people undergoing apitherapy may get stung 80 times a day or more. Studies conducted on animals and in test tubes suggest that bee venom may have some ability to lessen the pain and inflammation of arthritis.

In 1988, researchers at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki in Greece reported that bee stings greatly slowed the progress of an arthritis-like disease in rats. Scientists, at Montreal General Hospital, have also reported that venom slows the production of interleukin-1, a compound that helps fuel arthritic pain and inflammation. Studies in South Korea have revealed how melittin, an important compound in bee venom, blocks inflammation and showed significant anti-arthritic effects in mice.

Bee stings are thought to help ease the symptoms of a wide variety of diseases, including arthritis, multiple sclerosis, tendonitis, and fibromyalgia; they’re also thought to promote desensitization to bee stings. These claims don’t come from beekeepers looking for a profit; they’re made by patients whose experience with bee venom has turned them into believers.