This article is from the Alternative Medicine Therapies guide.
There have been few controlled scientific studies proving the value of bee venom, bee pollen, raw honey, royal jelly, or propolis, but there are many anecdotal reports about their health benefits. (One difficulty with controlled studies of bee venom is that a proper placebo is impossible to create; if you're stung by a bee, you know it.)
Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, bee venom is commonly used to treat diseases such as arthritis, bursitis, and tendinitis. It is also used to relieve chronic back and neck pain. Some apitherapists report that bee venom can also help break down and soften scar tissue, flattening scars and lightening them. This idea is supported by the fact that bee venom contains powerful enzymes that can break through scar tissue.
Bee venom therapy is additionally reported to decrease spasms and fatigue in multiple sclerosis patients and to increase the patients' stability. The National Multiple Sclerosis Association funded research at Allegheny University in Philadelphia to explore the possible benefits of apitherapy. The preliminary results of experiments conducted with laboratory mice, reported in 1998, found no beneficial effect against the course of an MS-like disease. Research is ongoing, however.
There are no licensing or credentialing organizations for apitherapists (apitherapy practitioners). Some physicians perform bee venom therapy themselves; others work with beekeepers who provide the bees and administer the stings under supervision. As in any type of treatment, getting a referral from a trusted health-care practitioner, friend, or relative is the best way to find an apitherapist.