Use of bee venom in veterinary medicine

Apitherapy is a branch of alternative medicine that consists of the treatment of diseases through products collected, processed, and secreted by bees, specifically pollen, propolis, honey, royal jelly, and bee venom

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Use of bee venom in veterinary medicine

"Apitherapy is a branch of alternative medicine that consists of the treatment of diseases through products collected, processed, and secreted by bees, specifically pollen, propolis, honey, royal jelly, and bee venom. In traditional medicine, the virtues of honey and propolis have been well-known for centuries.

The same, however, cannot be said for venom. The use of bee venom is particularly relevant for many therapeutic aspects. In recent decades, scientific studies have confirmed and enabled us to understand its properties. Bee venom has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, central nervous system inhibiting, radioprotective, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties, among others.

Numerous studies have often been summarised in reviews of the scientific literature that have focused on the results obtained with mouse models and their subsequent transposition to the human patient. In contrast, few reviews of scientific work on the use of bee venom in veterinary medicine exist.

This review aims to take stock of the research achievements in this particular discipline, with a view to a recapitulation and stabilisation in the different research fields." Therapeutic Use of Bee Venom and Potential Applications in Veterinary Medicine, published on the Veterinary sciences, explained it.

Bee venom is a clear and colorless liquid with a sweetish and then bitter taste, soluble in water but not in alcohol. The active portion of the venom consists of a complex mixture of proteins that causes local inflammation and acts as an anticoagulant.

The venom is produced by the venom apparatus of the bee placed in the abdomen of the worker bees and obtained from the mixture of both acidic and basic secretions. The apitoxin, result of the mixture, is acidic. The density is 1.13.

A bee can inject about 0.1-0.2 mg of venom through its sting. Apitoxin is similar to snake venom and nettle toxin. It is estimated that around 1% of the population is allergic to bee stings. Apitoxin can be neutralized by ethanol, but not by high or low temperatures.

The sting of the worker bee is equipped with hooks and therefore, once stuck in the elastic epithelial tissues of mammals such as humans, it remains there. The bee is no longer able to free itself until, by tearing the tissues, it leaves the sting, the venom apparatus and a part of the entrails where they are.

The venom apparatus contractions continue after detachment and therefore, to prevent the venom from continuing to flow, the sting must be promptly removed. The bee dies within 4 minutes. The sting causes acute pain for a few minutes then redness, edema and swelling with heating of the tissues for about 48 hours and finally itching in the terminal phase.

The most dangerous stings for non-hypersensitive individuals are those inside the mouth since the swelling of the larynx or the base of the tongue can lead to obstruction of the airways and therefore to suffocation. A good precaution, in this case, is to check the absence of insects on the surface of the fruit picked directly from the plants.

Punctures around or directly on the eye are also dangerous. For hypersensitive subjects, the consequences can be very serious and therefore, to learn more about the subject, it is advisable to consult a trusted specialist doctor, specialized centers on insect bites and specialist literature.