Happy Fertile Friday everyone!! Ok, so today you might start thinking that I’ve completely lost my mind. I actually feel a bit vulnerable posting about this, since it’s definitely left field (and my family will read it and then they’ll know – I only told my husband two days ago!), but I find it intriguing and fascinating, so I might as well share. It’s bee venom therapy. Yup, bee’s, like the yellow and black things that sting you. And yup, I’m getting stung by them, on purpose, three times a week. See, I told you you might think I’m crazy. It’s possible you’re right. I’m trying bee venom therapy for fertility.
To be fair, bee venom therapy (BVT), aka apitherapy, has been used medicinally for centuries in countries such as China, Russia, India, Malaysia and others. It has been dubbed the world’s first form of acupuncture, and certainly today people use acupuncture points and meridians to decide where to sting themselves.
This is all quite new to me. This will also be an introductory post, giving you as much as I’ve learned so far about bee venom therapy, and a bit of my experience of the process. I will continue to research the mechanisms and speak to beekeepers that are knowledgeable on the health-giving aspects of bee venom, and will post more as I learn more. I also want to note that it was one of my readers of this blog that reached out to me about bee venom therapy and fertility, so to that person (you know who you are), I thank you for sharing that with me and telling me of the two people that you had heard of who had conceived after doing BVT.
In the Lyme community, there are many people using BVT as a treatment, and many of them are recovering. This is because one of the key substances in bee venom called melittin, which can help to overcome bacterial infection. Bee venom is also used in HIV treatment as it has anti-viral properties (it helps to erode the double-layer viral envelope surrounding the virus), and as an anti-fungal against Candida. It can also have anti-cancer properties, overcoming cancer cells while sparing healthy surrounding cells. I don’t have a reference for this, but I do remember reading somewhere that bee keepers have one of the lowest rates of cancer of anyone.
Melittin is the one of the key components in the venom that has medicinal qualities, although it is just one of many compounds found in there. Melittin is a peptide consisting of 26 amino acids. It seems to work by increasing the permeability of membranes, especially to sodium and calcium; and of course it functions also as an antimicrobial agent. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory as well.
So the active constituents of bee venom reduce inflammation, modulate immune function and regulate the nervous system. I want to explore the nervous system effects of BVT in more detail, so I’ll write more on that later. For fertility, it seems to me from what I’ve found so far that the value of bee venom would be to balance any possible autoimmune issues that might be preventing conception and/ or implantation, as well as helping to balance the nervous system too. I’m still exploring.
So How Does It All Work?
Ok so that’s the theory, let’s talk about the nitty gritty of doing BVT.
Firstly, you need bees. I ordered bees from a beekeeper on the east coast, and ordered a little house for them called a Bee Buddy. We got about 40 bees in a little box, delivered via UPS. Can you believe that you can mail bees via UPS? I was taken aback too. (You can also order bee venom in vials that you inject, but I’ve heard on good authority from people I respect in the Lyme community that it’s not the same as the real deal.)
So these bees arrive, there’s a little plastic pot where you put the honey and give them access to that a few hours a day. They don’t need water (we learned that the hard way), they need fresh air and honey. The Bee Buddy has a “honeycomb” wall – not real honeycomb but the same shape they can crawl over, and a plexiglass sliding door with a square cut out in the corner where you can supposedly put tweezers in to grab one bee easily.
The hardest part of the whole process, to be honest, has been getting the bees out of the Bee Buddy through that little hole. I have watched YouTube videos of people just opening the whole sliding door and retrieving one bee, but we’re scared the whole lot with fly out and attack us!! It’s all a learning process. Thankfully, my colleague Emily (another ND in my office) and my medical assistant are really game and quite happy to tweeze the bees and give me stings.
So we get bees on the tweezers, then they literally put them on my skin and they are quite happy to oblige and sting me. I usually ice the area first, but there have been a few times that I haven’t even done that. With ice, it’s all fairly painless, I can feel the sting but it’s not painful. Without ice, yoweeeeee, but I just take a few deep breaths and it passes. So far I’m doing four stings on my back three times weekly, leaving the stings in for about 20 minutes. I also added two belly stings this past session, but holy smokes did they hurt way worse and cause way more inflammation and itching. I was up at 4am today fetching an ice pack to relieve it, although each day it’s getting a little better. That’s nearly 20 bee stings a week, by choice! The completely irony is that I was out for lunch the other day and some wasp-looking thing stung me on the finger. I’m like, really? I’m getting voluntary bee stings and suddenly you guys all think I like being stung? It also hurt way worse than the honey bees we use for our therapy!
I also recognize that bees die after they sting, and that some people might have a problem with using them for medicinal purposes at the expense of their lives. All I can say is that I acknowledge that, and we do thank them and bless them for allowing us to use them for our health purposes.
So there you have it. The things we do to have a baby, right? It’s odd because in some ways through this journey I’ve come to terms with just having one child, and have made peace with that. I’m seeing the silver lining with all this extra money to travel, the ease of traveling with one child instead of two, if we do home school (which I never thought I would do but with the new mandatory vaccine bill may have to consider). I can see being in Australia for a couple of months at a time, or flitting off to the South of France for a month … all easier with one not two. I have enough flexibility in my work to make that possible, so why not dream up The Life and see the bright side in what could be an otherwise sad situation. And yet here I am doing this somewhat crazy and not-altogether-easy intervention. I was telling a friend today that it’s a bit on an occupation hazard to want to try out every alternative therapy possible, and maybe I’m just the curious type, but it feels right for now and I’ll give it a couple of months and see how it goes. We know we’re not going to do IVF so there’s nothing else on the possibilities list.
I’ll definitely post more once I dig a little further into the science and mechanisms behind bee venom therapy. For now, I am keeping ice packs on hand (and an Epi-pen!) and keeping an open and curious mind.