Dr. Gott: Can bees help MS patients?

Dear Dr. Gott: I have had multiple sclerosis (MS) since I was in my late 20s.

I’m now in my early 50s and have been in remission for a while.

What can you tell me about MS and bee stings? I got stung a couple of days ago, and I started walking much better and feeling perkier.

I have energy that I haven’t had in years. One of my daughters told me about bee-sting therapy.

Dear Reader: The medical use of honeybee products is known as apitherapy.

Bees have played a role in alternative health care since the Egyptians used their byproducts to cure arthritis. Those byproducts have since been used to treat chronic pain, a number of skin conditions, burns of the skin, coughs and a great deal more.

Researchers have found that specific compounds in the venom, namely melittin and adolapin, can work toward reducing pain and inflammation through a process that allows the body to release natural healing compounds in its own defense.

It is rumored that thousands of multiple-sclerosis patients in the United States appear to be using bee venom as an alternative to interferon, corticosteroids and other drugs.

I don’t know how so many have tapped into this approach, because there are only about 50 physicians nationwide who use bee-venom therapy to relieve the symptoms of MS.

There certainly is a great deal to be said about alternative approaches to almost any condition. In this instance, though, there is always the risk of potentially life-threatening allergic reactions, so any undertaking should be under the strict guidance of a qualified physician.

Your daughter is cutting edge on the information circuit. Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., has begun a preliminary one-year study funded by the Multiple Sclerosis Association to research apitherapy as a potential treatment. I don’t know whether any clinical trials are under way, but you might want to follow that road to determine whether you meet their guidelines.

• Write to Dr. Gott c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., 4th fl., New York, NY 10016.

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