London: 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
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 Verssimo 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
"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."