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Apitherapy is an alternative medical therapy that uses honeybee products to treat various illnesses and their symptoms, as well as pain from acute and chronic illnesses.

The therapeutic properties of bee products have long been part of traditional medicine, with references found in Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Korean, and Russian medical literature, and apitherapy has been practiced since the days of Galen and Hippocrates.

While characterized as alternative medicine in some Western countries, apitherapy continues to have a part in traditional medicine in countries in Asia, Europe, and South America, including China, Korea, and Russia.

Products of the honeybee that may be used in apitherapy include the bee venom, propolis, honey, beeswax, and royal jelly, and the therapy has been used to treat a number of conditions, including arthritis, burns, cancer, gout, HIV, infections, multiple sclerosis, pain, shingles, tendonitis, and wounds. In treatment, honeybee products are sometimes applied topically, taken orally, or injected directly into the blood. Bee products may also be mixed with other ingredients, such as various essential oils, depending on the condition being treated.

Honey is the most well-known bee product, as it is used as a food as well as a medicinal product. In apitherapy, honey is generally used in its raw form, meaning that it has not been filtered, processed, or treated with heat. The elements of honey include small amounts of protein, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes. It is believed to have antifungal and antiviral properties.

Female worker bees produce venom that is sometimes used in apitherapy. Bee venom includes a mixture of proteins, amino acids, water, and volatile compounds that cause a painful reaction when stung. In apitherapy, the venom may be delivered directly through a bee sting, or it can be administered to the skin through a steel micro mesh, which allows the venom to enter the skin while preventing the stinger from becoming attached to the skin, which would kill the bee, as bees die after stinging.

Pollen is collected from plants by bees, who pollinate plants while collecting pollen by transferring it from one flower to another. Bees also eat it, which is where they get most of their dietary protein. The pollen includes vitamins and nutrients.

Royal jelly is secreted by bees to feed their larvae for the first few days of their lives. After that, only the ones who will become queens will continue eating royal jelly, which is how it gets its name. Worker bees generally live for less than two months, while queen bees can live for up to six years. Royal jelly is rich in vitamin B, proteins, and antioxidants, which reduce the levels of free radicals in the body, thought to be responsible for the aging process.

Propolis is a sticky substance that bees produce from plant resins. It has antiseptic and antimicrobial properties and is used within the hives to keep them free of bacterial and fungal infections.

Wax is produced by bees and used to construct their honeycombs and plug the cells when they are ready. Bees also mix the wax with propolis to cover any cracks in the hives and to protect the bees from infections.

Bees also process pollen by mixing it with honey and various enzymes. The pollen ferments and forms beebread, which is rich in nutrients and easily digestible. It also preserves the nutrients in the food.

Apitherapy practitioners use each of these products, sometimes in combination or with other substances, such as essential oils, in several treatment modalities.

Apitherapy is used to treat nerve pain, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and injuries like wounds or burns. When used for these problems, long-term use is generally recommended.

Honey is used for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumor, and antimicrobial properties, and it is also believed to be useful in maintaining cardiac health. Honey is sometimes eaten, consumed in tea or another preparation. It can also be applied directly to a wound or scar. Some practitioners have used honey in the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers, although the healing process takes a few months. Honey produced from local wildflowers can be used to reduce the symptoms of hay fever, and honey is also useful in the treatment of sore throats.

Bee venom has been used to treat multiple sclerosis, arthritis, Parkinson's disease, and never pain, and may be injected through a direct sting, a bee venom injection, or bee venom acupuncture.

Royal jelly, honey, bee pollen, and propolis are often used as dietary supplements in the treatment of various conditions or for general health maintenance.

Apitherapy practitioners believe that the beneficial effects of the therapy include a reduction of inflammation, improvement in circulation, and stimulation of the immune system.

Some people are allergic to bee stings and other bee products.



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