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What is Apitherapy?

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  • Written By: S. Gadd
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 26 October 2016
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Apitherapy refers to the use of honeybee products for enhancement of general health or for the treatment of medical problems. There is evidence that most ancient cultures used honeybee products for medicinal purposes, ranging from the external application of honey to soothe skin to bee venom therapy. These therapies are still used in alternative medicine practices and have even been the subject of several scientific studies due to a large number of anecdotal reports of success with these treatments.

Honey is used widely in apitherapy, and this usually refers to the use of raw honey, or honey that has not undergone any kind of processing. One benefit that has been verified by science is that honey can be used as a sweetener by people who otherwise need to avoid sugary foods, such as diabetics or people with insulin resistance. The compounds in honey are different from those in sugar, and therefore it does not cause the same sort of insulin spike as sugar.

In apitherapy, honey is commonly used topically to heal a variety of skin problems, from fungal infections to mild burns. This is due to honey’s mild antibacterial and antifungal effects. These effects may also be the reason that consuming honey appears to help many different types of gastrointestinal problems, such as soothing ulcers or preventing constipation. In addition, honey is thought to soothe nerves and help people with insomnia fall asleep easier.

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Royal jelly is a material that nurse bees produce that is high in B vitamins. This substance is given to all bee larvae within the first few days after hatching, but is given to the queen bee throughout her life. Due to the fact that the queen bee is larger and healthier and tends to live much longer than the rest of the bees, royal jelly is considered a supplement for superior health in many cultures.

In apitherapy, royal jelly might be used to treat everything from serious issues like Graves’ disease and heart disease to less serious problems like insomnia and unpleasant menopausal symptoms. Royal jelly appears to act as an anti-inflammatory agent and may be effective in reducing cholesterol. Applied as a topical cream, it might also have anti-aging effects on skin and healing effects on wounds.

Several other products used in apitherapy are propolis and pollen. Propolis, or a substance produced by bees for coating their hives, may be used in apitherapy as an antiseptic or an antibiotic. Pollen may also have some anti-inflammatory effects. In addition, if a person with pollen allergies is exposed to small doses of pollen that steadily increase over time, it usually lessens the person’s allergic reactions.

Finally, bee venom therapy is another aspect of apitherapy, and this might involve the controlled application of a bee sting or the injection of bee venom. This therapy has been used since ancient times in a variety of cultures and is believed to help relieve problems associated with autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, with fatigue, and to help improve the immune system. Bee venom therapy should never be performed on someone who has not been tested for an allergic reaction to bee venom because these reactions can be serious, causing difficulty breathing, anaphylactic shock, and possibly even leading to death.

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