Bee Venom Therapy for Lyme

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Bee Venom Therapy for Lyme Image by Marty Ross MD

Bee Venom Therapy for Lyme

Bee Venom Therapy (BVT) uses bee venom to improve Lyme symptoms.

BVT is given directly through bee stings or through injection by a healthcare provider. One protocol developed by a person living with Lyme calls for ten bee stings three times a week at spots located along the spine. For more information about this protocol see the “Resources” section below.

To be clear, there is no research in Lyme disease showing how often or how much bee venom through stings per treatment is the most useful. My research on this shows that the protocols and treatment methods have been learned by trial and error.

Does Bee Venom Therapy for Lyme Help?

Maybe. I think it is a therapy to consider if six to nine months of The Ross Lyme Support Protocol does not provide significant improvements. 

A small number of patients in my Seattle Lyme practice tried bee venom therapy (BVT) on their own. Some got symptom improvements using this method. However, I am unclear based on my experience what the actual success rate is among people trying this healing method. There is no research indicating this either.

How BVT in Lyme Could Help

Most of the research on BVT is done in laboratory animal studies. These non-Lyme disease studies show BVT

  • decreases cytokines,
  • decreases nerve cell death, and
  • lowers activation of NF-kB which is a cellular messenger that triggers cytokine production.

Inflammation cytokines, created by the immune system attacking Lyme, cause most of the Lyme symptoms. So lowering them could help a person significantly. These non-Lyme animal studies may indicate what happens in humans; however, the effect in humans may not be the same.

To read more about these cytokines and ways to lower them see Control Cytokines: A Guide to Fix Lyme Symptoms & The Immune System.

There is only one study about Lyme and BVT. In this study Lyme researcher Eva Sapi, PhD, carried out modified petri dish experiments in her lab. She found that one BVT component called melittin and whole bee venom both

  • reduce Lyme biofilms,
  • decrease Lyme persister cells,
  • kill spirochetes, and
  • kill round bodies (cysts).

So it is possible one other benefit of BVT is that it is an antimicrobial that can treat regular lyme and persister Lyme. And BVT could remove Lyme biofilms that block treatment. One word of caution here - it is very possible that this laboratory result does not correctly predict what happens in living people.

Read more about biofilms and effective treatment options in Biofilms: Lyme Disease Gated Communities. Read more about antimicrobial strategies for Lyme in A Lyme Disease Antibiotic Guide. Read more about persister Lyme and possible treatment approaches in How to Treat Persister Lyme. What Works?

Risks

About 5 to 7.5% of all people could develop allergies to bee stings. Check with your physician or health provider first before trying this form of therapy.

Resources

For more information about the ins and outs of doing BVT see BVT for Lyme by Ellie Lobel. This site documents the strategy Ms. Lobel uses to perform BVT on herself. She also runs a BVT Facebook group. I do not agree with the various supplements she describes and cannot verify her claims of success, but I am including her as a resource for those looking at how to do this form of therapy.

One other option is to find an apitherapist. Apitherapist are trained to use BVT.

Disclaimer

The ideas and recommendations on this website and in this article are for informational purposes only. For more information about this, see the sitewide Terms & Conditions.

References

View Citations

  1. Socarras KM, Theophilus PAS, Torres JP, Gupta K, Sapi E. Antimicrobial Activity of Bee Venom and Melittin against Borrelia burgdorferi. Antibiotics (Basel). 2017;6(4):31. Published 2017 Nov 29. doi:10.3390/antibiotics6040031
  2. 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;148:64-73.

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About the Author

Marty Ross, MD is a passionate Lyme disease educator and clinical expert. He helps Lyme sufferers and their physicians see what really works based on his review of the science and extensive real-world experience. Dr. Ross is licensed to practice medicine in Washington State where he treated thousands of Lyme disease patients in his Seattle practice through late 2018. Marty is currently on sabbatical in Austin, TX. Dr. Ross plans to reopen his Seattle Lyme practice in early 2020.

Marty Ross, MD is a graduate of Indiana University School of Medicine and Georgetown University Family Medicine Residency. He is a member of the International Lyme and Associated Disease Society (ILADS) and The Institute for Functional Medicine.

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