Alhambra Acupuncturists's 'Bee Sting Therapy' Investigated

Pasadena Star News      By Zen Vuong  August 1, 2015

ALHAMBRA >> An Alhambra acupuncturist’s license is on the line after state medical regulators alleged he was “grossly negligent” when using bees to sting patients as part of a medical treatment, an attorney said.

For the past four years, Xin Sheng “Tom” Zhou has used bee sting therapy to treat diseases and chronic pain, such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and migraines.

The use of honeybee products, such as bee venom and honey, to treat an assortment of ailments is not uncommon. At issue in Zhou’s case is his use of a bee stinger to inject the venom into patients.

The California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Acupuncture Board filed an accusation, or formal statement of charges, against Zhou on July 23, saying he was repeatedly and grossly negligent in his practice because his office doesn’t have an allergic reaction kit, epinephrine or over-the-counter medication for patients who experience severe adverse reactions to bee stings.

• Video: Watch an acupuncturist give himself bee sting therapy

Medical regulators threatened Zhou with license suspension or probation as well as mandatory repayment of investigation and enforcement costs. He is scheduled to appear before an administrative hearing Monday.

“The use of a bee stinger as the delivery mechanism of venom is not within the standard of care and is considered to be an extreme departure from the standard of care,” the legal document states. “The standard of care requires bee venom to be administered in a way which is comparable to the herbals, e.g. topically, orally consumed liquid or tablet or capsule.”

Zhou stopped the alternative procedure when a dispute arose, but his practice at 701 W. Valley Blvd. Suite 53 is still bustling.

“Please give me permission to get bee sting therapy,” Monica Weerasinghe, who suffers from ALS, scribbled on paper because she could barely talk. Needles pricked her body as she lay on an acupuncture table.

• Photos: Elegant Bee Clinic in Alhambra

Unable to pay her doctor’s fees, Weerasinghe, brings small gifts like Toblerone when she comes in for weekly hour-long sessions. Two years ago, Weerasinghe couldn’t speak a single word, said Angelica Ulloa, Zhou’s assistant. But after receiving two treatments involving bees stinging her temple, Weerasinghe could talk and walk again, Ulloa said.

RISKY THERAPY

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved bee sting therapy. In fact, it is a potentially risky treatment that could produce life-threatening allergic reactions, said Dr. Michael Levine, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.

“There is very, very limited data in lab settings to suggest that some of the components of bee venom might decrease lab markers of inflammation,” he said. “There is incredibly limited human data in actual studies to suggest that there is actual benefits to it.”

American Apitherapy Society Inc., which has more than 1,600 members, according to its website, believes the medicinal use of honeybee products such as bee venom, honey and royal jelly could treat immune system, neurologic, musculoskeletal and infectious problems, including hay fever, ALS, shingles, scar pain, tendonitis and spinal pain. These practitioners also use apitherapy to treat wounds, sprains, fractures and tumors, according to the group’s website.

“The board’s biggest problem is the use of the bee stinger,” said John Dratz Jr., Zhou’s attorney. “They don’t have a problem with bee venom. Bee sting therapy is the most effective way to deliver it historically, and it’s still being used. We feel that it’s safe, and we’ve not gotten any solid, scientific evidence from the board side that it’s not safe.”

If a patient experiences an allergic reaction, Zhou could use herbal medicine and acupuncture to manage it or he could employ an EpiPen located in his office to deal with anaphylactic shock, Dratz said. None of his 1,000 or so patients have suffered a severe allergic reaction in the thousands of times he has practiced bee sting therapy in the past four years, he said.

Nevertheless, “the Acupuncture Board stands by the accusation filed against Xin Sheng Zhou,” said Cristina Valdivia, spokeswoman for the medical regulators.

Zhou started his treatments with one sting as an allergy test. He used a pair of tweezers to pluck a bee from a small box filled with hundreds of them, iced the patient’s skin, then forced the insect to stab a strategic spot. He removed the stinger immediately during the test prick but thereafter left it in for about five minutes, he said. The number of bees used depends on the patient’s condition, but it was never more than a dozen, he said.

Dr. John H. Smith Jr., a Pasadena-based allergist and immunologist, said without knowing exactly how much venom is in stingers, a practitioner could subject his patients to too much and possibly induce anaphylactic shock. Some people are extremely allergic, so even a small amount of bee venom could cause extreme reactions. Others have a higher tolerance but are still allergic. Thus multiple tests involving differing amounts is needed, he said.

ANCIENT REMEDY

Bee venom acupuncture has been used in Eastern Asia since at least the 2nd century B.C. and is becoming more popular in Korea, according to a 2005 report published in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal. The therapy is also reportedly growing in popularity in China.

Some people in the United States also practice the alternative therapy. Dr. Andrew Kochan’s regenerative injection practice in Sherman Oaks offered bee sting therapy for six years before he opted for more hygienic bee venom in a syringe, he said.

In the past 25 years, he said he has treated several hundred patients for conditions such as osteoarthritis, acute tendonitis and postherpetic neuralgia — a complication of shingles that could produce blistering pain. Bee venom injections are an extremely safe remedy, he said.

“This is a treatment that’s been around for thousands of years,” Kochan said. “The Chinese used it. The Egyptians used it. The Greeks used it. It’s well documented in all the medical texts from various ancient civilizations and has survived. I’ve done it for 25 years, and I’ve seen people have complete relief of certain problems after my administering of it.”

Read & View Video at: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/health/20150801/alhambra-acupuncturists-bee-sting-therapy-investigated

Venom Gets Good Buzz As Potential Cancer Fighter

University of Illinois (Department of Bio-Engineering)   August 11, 2014

San Francisco, Aug. 11, 2014 — Bee, snake or scorpion venom could form the basis of a new generation of cancer-fighting drugs, scientists from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign report. They have devised a method for targeting venom proteins specifically to malignant cells while sparing healthy ones, which reduces or eliminates side effects that the toxins otherwise would cause.

The report was presented during the 248th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society. Attended by thousands of scientists, the meeting runs August 11 through 14 and features nearly 12,000 reports on new advances in science and other topics.

“We have safely used venom toxins in tiny nanometer-sized particles to treat breast cancer and melanoma cells in the laboratory,” says Dipanjan Pan, Ph.D., who led the study. “These particles, which are camouflaged from the immune system, take the toxin directly to the cancer cells, sparing normal tissue.”

Venom from snakes, bees and scorpions contains proteins and peptides which, when separated from the other components and tested individually, can attach to cancer cell membranes. That activity could potentially block the growth and spread of the disease, other researchers have reported. Pan, an assistant professor in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and his team say that some of substances found in any of these venoms could be effective anti-tumor agents. But just injecting venoms into a patient would have side effects. Among these could be damage to heart muscle or nerve cells, unwanted clotting or, alternately, bleeding under the skin. So Pan and his team at Illinois set out to solve this problem.

He says that in the honeybee study, his team identified a substance in the venom called melittin that keeps the cancer cells from multiplying. Bees make so little venom that it’s not feasible to extract it and separate out the substance time after time for lab testing or for later clinical use. That’s why they synthesized melittin in the lab. To figure out how melittin would work inside a nanoparticle, they conducted computational studies. Next, they did the test and injected their synthetic toxin into nanoparticles. “The peptide toxins we made are so tightly packed within the nanoparticle that they don’t leach out when exposed to the bloodstream and cause side effects,” he explains. What they do is go directly to the tumor, where they bind to cancer stem cells, blocking their growth and spread, he adds. He says that synthetic peptides mimicking components from other venoms, such as those from snakes or scorpions, also work well in the nanoparticles as a possible cancer therapy.

Pan says the next step is to examine the new treatment approach in rats and pigs. Eventually, they hope to begin a study involving patients. He estimates that this should be in the next three to five years.

The researchers acknowledge funding from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With main offices in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio, and more than 161,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences.

Paper published by the Royal Society of Chemistry

Edited version of release written by American Chemical Society

Read at: http://bioengineering.illinois.edu/news/venom-gets-good-buzz-potential-cancer-fighter

Bee Venom Kills Lung Cancer Cells

Apitherapy News   August 2, 2014

Cancer Cell Growth Inhibitory Effect of Bee Venom via Increase of Death Receptor 3 Expression and Inactivation of NF-Kappa B in NSCLC Cells

Our previous findings have demonstrated that bee venom (BV) has anti-cancer activity in several cancer cells. However, the effects of BV on lung cancer cell growth have not been reported. Cell viability was determined with trypan blue uptake, soft agar formation as well as DAPI and TUNEL assay. Cell death related protein expression was determined with Western blotting. An EMSA was used for nuclear factor kappaB (NF-κB) activity assay. BV (1-5 μg/mL) inhibited growth of lung cancer cells by induction of apoptosis in a dose dependent manner in lung cancer cell lines A549 and NCI-H460. Consistent with apoptotic cell death, expression of DR3 and DR6 was significantly increased. However, deletion of DRs by small interfering RNA significantly reversed BV induced cell growth inhibitory effects. Expression of pro-apoptotic proteins (caspase-3 and Bax) was concomitantly increased, but the NF-κB activity and expression of Bcl-2 were inhibited. A combination treatment of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-like weak inducer of apoptosis, TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand, docetaxel and cisplatin, with BV synergistically inhibited both A549 and NCI-H460 lung cancer cell growth with further down regulation of NF-κB activity. These results show that BV induces apoptotic cell death in lung cancer cells through the enhancement of DR3 expression and inhibition of NF-κB pathway.

Read at: http://apitherapy.blogspot.com/ (post date 8/2/14)

Bee Venom Ointment Relieves Muscle Tension

Apitherapy News    July 25, 2014

Myorelaxant Effect of Bee Venom Topical Skin Application in Patients with RDC/TMD Ia and RDC/TMD Ib: A Randomized, Double Blinded Study

The aim of the study was the evaluation of myorelaxant action of bee venom (BV) ointment compared to placebo. Parallel group, randomized double blinded trial was performed. Experimental group patients were applying BV for 14 days, locally over masseter muscles, during 3-minute massage. Placebo group patients used vaseline for massage. Muscle tension was measured twice (TON1 and TON2) in rest muscle tonus (RMT) and maximal muscle contraction (MMC) on both sides, right and left, with Easy Train Myo EMG (Schwa-medico, Version 3.1).
Reduction of muscle tonus was statistically relevant in BV group and irrelevant in placebo group. VAS scale reduction was statistically relevant in both groups: BV and placebo. Physiotherapy is an effective method for myofascial pain treatment, but 0,0005% BV ointment gets better relief in muscle tension reduction and analgesic effect.

http://apitherapy.blogspot.com/

http://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2014/296053/

Bee Stings at Picnic Time

The Daily Mail    By Dick Johnson for Columbia-Green Media   June 24, 2014

Fourth of July is traditional picnic time. Among the uninvited picnic guests it’s likely to see some yellow jackets. Unlike gentle honeybees that are vegetarians, the aggressive yellow jackets are carnivores and feed on other insects. This is why they show up just at the time that the delicious aroma of hot dogs and hamburgers floats in the breeze from the grill. They also have a “sweet tooth” and go after the sugar in your ice tea or soda pop. Remind the kids to check for bees especially if the drink has been left on the table for a while. There are two types of yellow jackets that build their populations late summer and early fall. The native, most common type makes its nest in the ground and is actually small than a honeybee. The other type is one inch, double the size of the honeybee and is native to Europe. Both of these pests are shiny, bright yellow with black stripes - different from honeybees that are tan and black and “fuzzy.”

The other serious pest at the picnic may be the white-faced hornet. This is a large, shiny black bee with white markings on the head. These are the bees that build those big round gray nests hanging from a branch. Both of these bees are aggressive and can sting multiple times, unlike the honeybee.

It is unlikely that honeybees create a problem unless the picnic is in a beekeepers yard. Honeybees don’t want to sting as they lose their life, but they will use their stinger to protect their hive. Unless you threaten them, while honeybees are foraging in the flower garden, they usually are very gentle. Despite the hysteria associated with honeybee stings, they do not cause a medical crisis for 99 percent of our population.

The honeybee has a barbed stinger that continues to inject venom under your skin for a couple minutes. The best advice is to get the stinger out as fast as possible to prevent injection of the “full dose.” Fortunately, many persons develop a tolerance to stings, and their reaction is much reduced after frequent, repeated stings. Most persons do not experience any symptoms other than a burning sensation for two minuets, a red spot, and localized swelling. Occasionally, a mild allergic reaction may cause itching, a rash, or light-headed feeling and these symptoms usually respond to antihistamine pills.

The dangerous type of reaction is a drop in blood pressure and any difficulty breathing. This mat be an anaphylactic reaction and requires immediate medical attention. Persons hypersensitive to bee venom should carry the pocket bee sting kit available by prescription. Treatments to desensitize highly sensitive persons are available from specialized allergists to greatly reduce bee stings.

When a person accidentally receives multiple stings there will be significant swelling but a healthy adult usually recovers fully after 300 to 500 stings. There has bee considerable concern about the spread of the “Africanized” honeybees now found in most of the deep southern states. These bees are very aggressive but beekeepers in those areas have adjusted their management to be able to maximize their pollination of crops and honey production. These aggressive bees will not breed locally as they originated in the tropics and cannot survive our cold temperatures.

Don’t expect any problems from gentle honeybees but be careful with the “picnic bees.”

Read at: http://www.thedailymail.net/columnists/honeybee_corner/article_de86f862-fb09-11e3-8950-001a4bcf887a.html

Bee Venom's Healing Buzz

The New Age    By Tankiso Komane    May 6, 2014

Indicative of the rise in the number of people looking to the past for alternative healing methods, there’s been mounting interest across the world in apitherapy.

Traced back to thousands of years to Egypt and China, bee venom has been used in ancient medicine for centuries primarily as a treatment for arthritis.

Now celebrities such as Kate Middleton and Victoria Beckham are helping propel the trend into the 21st century.

Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow, known for her love of unusual and holistic treatments, recently revealed she used bee venom therapy to treat an insect bite.

In China, throngs of patients are also reportedly swarming to acupuncture clinics to be given bee stings to treat or ward off a variety of illnesses, disorders and pain, even though there is there is no scientific evidence to support its effectiveness.

But what’s the buzz all about?

Melittin, the peptide found in the venom, tricks the skin into thinking it has been stung – but without any pain. The skin reacts by increasing blood circulation to the affected area, stimulating natural production of collagen and elastin, thus smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles.

In 2013, Washington University, in the US city of St Louis, published a study on the efficacy of milittine in countering the Aids virus.

In France, thousands of patients have benefited from bandages treated with honey at the abdominal surgery department of Limoges hospital.

Bee products are also infiltrating the cosmetics industry, used in skin-toning and anti-wrinkle creams. Part of the appeal rests with the natural and organic image of bee products.

“In Romania, we have the chance to maintain an unspoiled nature,” said Cornelia Dostetan, a member of the National Apitherapy Society.

Under communism, poverty meant that pesticides were rarely used and the country has never shifted to large-scale monoculture forms of agriculture. The result is that Romania retains a great diversity of flora, said Dostetan.

Certified organic, the Romanian brand Apiland, a specialist in raw pollen, has launched its products in France and Italy.

According to the last census in 2010, Romania counted 42000 beekeepers and more than 1.3 million colonies of bees.

Postolachi says she looks on the bees with gratitude. “These miniscule beings do wonders.”
With Relaxnews 

That Allergic Reaction to Bee Stings? It's Meant to Protect You

(The following is brought to us by the American Bee Journal.)   10/24/13 

Allergic reactions to bee stings can be damaging or even deadly, but new evidence from two independent studies of mice reported in the Cell Press journal Immunity on October 24th suggest that the immune response to bee venom and other allergens actually evolved and may continue to serve as a protective defense mechanism. Perhaps they aren't just misdirected immune responses after all.

"Our study adds to the argument that allergy evolved to protect us from noxious factors in the environment – it protects us by making us sneeze, cough, vomit, and itch, by inducing a runny nose and tears," said Ruslan Medzhitov of Yale University School of Medicine. "All of these reactions are designed to expel something harmful from the body. They are unpleasant, but they protect by being unpleasant."

"Everyone who ever witnessed or even experienced an anaphylactic reaction to a bee or a wasp sting will wonder why evolution did not get rid of such a potentially deadly immune reaction," added Martin Metz of Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin. "We have now shown in mice that the development of IgE antibodies to honeybee venom and also to the venom from a poisonous snake can protect mice to some degree from the toxic effects of the venoms."

It is apparently only when allergic reactions run amok that they cause serious problems.

Metz and his colleague Stephen Galli of Stanford University School of Medicine found that mice injected with amounts of honeybee venom similar to that which could be delivered in one or two stings developed a specific immune response, which subsequently increased their resistance to potentially lethal amounts of venom. The researchers observed a similar protective immune response in the mice following exposure to poisonous snake venom. In both cases, that protective effect was attributed to IgE antibodies, which are produced in response to a broad range of environmental antigens, many of them seemingly harmless.

The common venom ingredient and major allergen in bee venom, PLA2 (phospholipase A2), is an enzyme that wreaks havoc by destroying cellular membranes. In the second study, Medzhitov and his colleagues showed how PLA2 induces the type 2 immune response in exposed mice, to afford the animals later protection against near-lethal doses of damaging enzyme.

It seems as though our bodies might know what they are doing after all. But, if immune reactions to bee stings are advantageous, why then do some people develop anaphylaxis?

"We don't know," Galli said, "but perhaps only certain people, who for genetic or other reasons exhibit especially severe IgE-dependent reactions, are at risk for developing anaphylaxis when stung by bees. This notion is supported by clinical observations showing that only a small fraction of people who have IgE antibodies against honeybee venom develop anaphylaxis upon being stung by a bee."

Related article: http://www.registercitizen.com/general-news/20131024/yale-study-finds-bee-sting-venom-may-bring-immunity-against-the-pain 

The Telegraph  By Louise Grey  10/17/12

Scientists have discovered bees not only bite enemies that are too small to sting, but paralyse their victims with a snake-like venom.

The insects use their tiny mandibles to bite animals that are too small to sting, like the wax moth and the parasitic varroa mite.

Like the snake bite, the bite contains a natural anaesthetic to paralyse the victim so the pest can be dragged out of the hive.

The finding, in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE, could help scientists develop ways to help bees fight off viruses that are affecting the wider population.

Dr Alexandros Papachristoforou, of the University of Thessaloniki in Greece, who led the team, said the finding will cause “a complete re-thinking of honeybee defence mechanisms” and could lead to...

Read more... 

Related article: http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/viewnews.php?id=236056

Patients all A Buzz about Bee Venom Treatment

Tara Cleary, Reuters   (Apatherapy News)  June 24, 2012
A bee farmer in the Philippines uses sting therapy to treat patients with gout, arthritis, and autoimmune disorders.
 
Feeling the pain of a bee sting, but this sting is deliberate. Filipino bee farmer turned alternative medicine practitioner, Joel Magsaysay is performing bee venom therapy at his farm outside Manila. He's hoping the sting will start healing his patients damaged nerves, just like it healed him after a stroke that left the right side of his body paralyzed 12 years ago. He says proteins found in bee venom awakened the nerves in his torso and limbs and restored his muscle movement…



Bee Venom Acupuncture Helps Treat Parkinson's Disease

Apitherapy News  May 31, 2012

This study aimed to explore the effectiveness of both acupuncture and bee venom acupuncture as adjuvant therapies for idiopathic Parkinson's disease.We recruited 43 adults with idiopathic Parkinson's disease who had been on a stable dose of antiparkinsonian medication for at least 1 month. They were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups: acupuncture, bee venom acupuncture, or control. All participants were assessed using the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale, the Parkinson's Disease Quality of Life Questionnaire, the Beck Depression Inventory, the Berg Balance Scale, and the time and number of steps required to walk 30 m. Treatment groups underwent stimulation of 10 acupuncture points using acupuncture or bee venom acupuncture twice a week for 8 weeks. The initial assessment was repeated at the completion of treatment. The control group did not receive any treatment.  Read more...

ScienceDirect.com   May 24, 2012

Effectiveness of acupuncture and bee venom acupuncture in idiopathic Parkinson's disease

Abstract

This study aimed to explore the effectiveness of both acupuncture and bee venom acupuncture as adjuvant therapies for idiopathic Parkinson's disease. Read more: 

Missouri Woman says Bee Venom Therapy Helped Treat MS

Apitherapy News  June 1, 2012

A Woman on the Move, A Woman of Courage

One of the first things Farrell learned about MS is that it doesn’t typically affect the longevity of your life, but it will affect your quality.With no traditional treatment known for her form of MS, Farrell turned to alternative treatments, including bee venom injections or “stings,” which she did from 1997 to 2009.

“I had 15 stings every other day,” said Farrell. “It was very painful.”She had heard of the treatment on an episode of the TV show “Unsolved Mysteries.” Read more...

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http://health.howstuffworks.com/medicine/tests-treatment/bee-sting-therapy-and-ms.htm
http://www.earthclinic.com/CURES/MS.html
http://apitherapy.blogspot.com/2012/05/bee-venom-therapy-may-help-treat-ms.html