Bee venom is made by bees. This is the poison that makes bee stings painful. Bee venom is used to make medicine. Don’t confuse bee venom with bee pollen, honey, or royal jelly. Other venoms are derived from related members of the insect order Hymenoptera.
Bee venom is given as a shot for rheumatoid arthritis, nerve pain (neuralgia), multiple sclerosis (MS), reducing the reaction to bee stings in people who are allergic (desensitization) to them (venom immunotherapy), swollen tendons (tendonitis), and muscle conditions such as fibromyositis and enthesitis.
How does it work?
Giving repeated and controlled injections of bee venom under the skin causes the immune system to get used to bee venom, and helps reduce the severity of an allergy to bee venom.
Uses & Effectiveness
Likely Effective for
- Reducing the severity of allergic reactions to bee stings. A series of bee venom shots under the skin (bee venom immunotherapy) seems to be effective for reducing reactions to bee stings in people with severe allergy to bee stings. Bee venom immunotherapy provides 98% to 99% protection from reactions to bee stings. Once immunotherapy is stopped, the risk of reaction over the next 5 to 10 years is about 5% to 15%. Purified bee venom for under-the-skin injection is an FDA approved product.
Possibly Ineffective for
- Arthritis. People used to think that bee venom might be a useful treatment for arthritis. This theory was largely due to supposed swelling-reducing (anti-inflammatory) effects of bee venom and the observation that many beekeepers don't develop arthritis. However, research results have not supported this.
- Multiple sclerosis (MS). Administering live bee stings in gradually increasing doses up to 20 stings given three times weekly does not seem to improve multiples sclerosis. Treatment for 24 weeks does not seem to improve fatigue, disability, or quality of life.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Nerve pain.
- Painful, swollen tendons (tendonitis).
- Muscle swelling (inflammation).
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of bee venom for these uses.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For reducing the severity of allergic reactions to bee stings: Healthcareproviders give bee venom as a shot (by injection) to "desensitize" people who are allergic to bee stings. Purified bee venom for under-the-skin injection is an FDA approved product.