Surging in popularity over the last few years as an intervention for chronic Lyme disease is bee venom therapy (BVT). It’s most often administered via live bee stings or injections; some people chose to sting themselves, while others employ a practitioner. BVT may be used along the spine or in conjunction with acupuncture points. BVT participants usually incorporate this modality two to three times per week as part of their health regimen.
Although the idea of stinging yourself with live bees or having a practitioner administer them might creep you out, BVT isn’t new. It’s been used for thousands of years around the world for a variety of ailments. Science recognizes the therapeutic application of bee venom for decreasing inflammation, providing pain relief, and reducing rheumatic conditions.
Over the years, I’ve had many people report lasting benefits from BVT, enough to consider it as an important complement to other therapies, such as herbal therapy, for chronic Lyme disease. Growing evidence suggests one of the primary drivers of symptoms associated with Lyme disease is autoimmunity generated by the immune system’s reaction to intracellular bacteria. BVT may be one way to “reset” the immune system to reduce autoimmunity. The biggest evidence of that is the reduction of symptoms reported by individuals who have autoimmune arthritis.
To date, only two studies exist (1997 and 2017) suggesting melittin, an antimicrobial compound in bee venom, may have some activity against the Lyme bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. However, neither study has been done on living organisms, so it’s unclear whether BVT treats Lyme disease or provides more supportive qualities that could assist in recovery efforts.
While the potential benefits may be significant, the documented reports of anaphylaxis reactions, infection at the site, and even death, must be respected. Those who use it must be careful with it. Seek out an experienced and preferably credentialed practitioner to administer therapy.
There is a range of costs associated with BVT. If you work with a practitioner or acupuncturist, BVT can get pricey, depending on how often you have visits. If you sting yourself, it’s relatively inexpensive after the initial set-up costs for safety and supplies.
Dr. Bill Rawls’ Treatment Guide
Want to see more Lyme disease treatment ratings? See What Dr. Rawls has to say about popular treatments and therapies in his Lyme Disease Treatment Guide.
1. Lubke LL, Garon CF. The antimicrobial agent melittin exhibits powerful in vitro inhibitory effects on the Lyme disease spirochete. Clin Infect Dis. 1997 Jul;25 Suppl 1:S48-51. doi: 10.1086/516165
2. Socarras KM, Theophilus PAS, Torres JP, Gupta K, Sapi E. Antimicrobial Activity of Bee Venom and Melittin against Borrelia burgdorferi. Antibiotics (Basel). 2017 Nov 29;6(4):31. doi: 10.3390/antibiotics6040031
3. Zhang S, Liu Y, Ye Y, Wang XR, Lin LT, Xiao LY, Zhou P, Shi GX, Liu CZ. Bee venom therapy: Potential mechanisms and therapeutic applications. Toxicon. 2018 Jun 15;148:64-73. doi: 10.1016/j.toxicon.2018.04.012