Page last updated at 13:31 GMT, Friday, 3 July 2009 14:31 UK

'Bee sting honey' for arthritis

Bee sting
The honey may offer the gain without the pain

A New Zealand company is seeking EU approval to market honeybee venom to help people with arthritis ease their pain.

Nelson Honey & Marketing says two teaspoons a day of its honey with added venom milked from honeybees has anti-inflammatory power to soothe joints.

The venom concept is not new - some clinics even offer up bee stings.

The UK's Food Standards Agency said it would be considering the application in the coming months.


It's difficult to postulate the action of honeybee venom or how it purports to work, because any available evidence is entirely anecdotal

Professor Alan Silman of the Arthritis Research Campaign

The Manuka honey with added bee venom has been available in New Zealand for 13 years and its makers say although it does contain a venom, it has proved extremely safe.

It contains a blend of honey derived from the native New Zealand Manuka tree and dried venom harvested from the Apis mellifera honeybee using electrical milking machines that send impulses to stimulate worker bees to sting through a latex film onto a glass collector plate.

Anecdotal benefit

The Nectar Ease label advises consumers to start with a quarter of a teaspoon a day and increase this to one or two as required.

It also warns that people with allergies to honey or bee venom should seek medical advice prior to use, and that it should not be given to infants under 12 months of age.

Honey has long been hailed for its healing properties, but the Arthritis Research Campaign said it was sceptical about the beneficial properties of honeybee venom in the treatment of arthritis.

The charity's medical director Professor Alan Silman said: "We recently compiled a report on the effectiveness of complementary medicines in treating the common types of arthritis based on available scientific evidence and honeybee venom didn't feature, as no research has been done into this product.

"As a result, it's difficult to postulate the action of honeybee venom or how it purports to work, because any available evidence is entirely anecdotal."



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