Danger or Blessing in the Garden?........by Joyce Oroz

Today was a nice day for gardening, WAS. Everything was blooming and the honey bees were buzzing and I’m trimming a giant blossoming Bee Bush named Rosemary and all of a sudden the bees forgot their flowers and turned on me like they were afraid I would take away their lunch. Actually, I did clip off some of their blossoms, but there were still plenty to go around. One bee landed on my left hand. I quickly pulled the stinger out-- looked at my right hand, an official landing pad for stinger-bees, and ran. But not far because my feet were tangled in the hose, giving me time to pull three stingers out of my right hand. I dashed into the house and prepared two bowls of Epsom Salts in hot water for a good soak. The phone rang. It was my friend so I told her I had to go soak my hands. She reminded me that bee stings can be used as medicine for arthritis. It sounded like the bees had done me a favor so I dumped the Epsom Salts and suffered all afternoon. Turns out I’m not good at suffering. I’m soaking as we speak. 
Now it is a day later and my ten-pound hand is killing me. I've done the baking soda paste--would do the tenderizer if I had any, in fact, I would hurl my body off the nearest volcano if I thought it would help. So my advice is: take care of the sting or stings immediately--don't wait until your hand looks like something from a Bee-rated monster flick.

The internet had plenty to say about my little experiment. Here’s what I found:

Apitherapy, also known as bee sting therapy, is an alternative treatment for arthritis. According to Blue Cross Blue Shield, some doctors, primarily in Eastern Europe and Korea, advocate this treatment, with patients stung up to 80 times a day. The use of bee sting therapy dates back to the second century B.C. in Eastern Asia.

·        In a 1988 study on rats, clinicians at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki in Greece determined that the venom in bee stings slowed the progression of arthritis. In a study in conjunction with Montreal General Hospital, researchers found the venom slowed down the creation of interleukin-1, a compound that causes pain and inflammation in arthritis. The most recent study, in South Korea, determined that a compound in the sting blocked inflammation in mice.

In Humans

o                                               According to the South Korean study by the Seoul College of Korean Medicine, bee sting therapy works in a manner similar to acupuncture, but the compounds released by the sting also help fight inflammation. However, studies of the effects on humans have been inconclusive. In 1941, a study printed in the American Journal of Medical Sciences found that bee therapy did nothing to help people with arthritis. After advancements in medicine and other treatments for arthritis, studies on apitherapy are no longer deemed important. However, the 2005 South Korean study suggested more tests on humans, since the results in mice were promising.
o        Dangers
  According to Blue Cross Blue Shield, up to 2 percent of the population is so allergic that a few stings could kill them. Undergoing apitherapy without knowledge of allergies could be fatal. If undergoing apitherapy, it is recommended to have on hand a first-aid kit that includes epinephrine, which can be used if the patient goes into anaphylactic shock. An allergic reaction can include swelling in the face, eyes and throat, which could constrict and make breathing impossible.         



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