Bee venom is given as a shot for bee sting allergy. It is also used for osteoarthritis, Parkinson disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), nerve pain, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
Safety Safety definitions
Bee venom is POSSIBLY SAFE when given by live bee stings. Live bee stings have been safely administered under medical supervision in doses up to 20 bee stings three times weekly for up to 24 weeks.
When applied to the skin: There isn't enough reliable information to know if bee venom is safe or what the side effects might be.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Bee venom is POSSIBLY SAFE when injected under the skin by a trained medical professional at recommended doses. Though harmful effects at usual doses have not been reported, some healthcare providers decrease the maintenance dose by half during pregnancy. High doses of bee venom are POSSIBLY UNSAFE during pregnancy because they can increase release of a chemical called histamine, which can cause the uterus to contract. This might lead to miscarriage. Avoid high doses of bee venom if you are pregnant.
"Auto-immune diseases" such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: Bee venom might cause the immune system to become more active, and this could increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. If you have one of these conditions, it's best to avoid using bee venom.
- Bee sting allergy. 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.
- 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.
- Stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint (frozen shoulder). Early research suggests that receiving dilute bee venom injections might improve pain and disability in people with frozen shoulder. But it doesn't seem to improve range of motion. Also, very dilute bee venom injects don't seem to be beneficial.
- Osteoarthritis. Early research on the use of bee venom for osteoarthritis is mixed. But one large study shows that injecting bee venom into the skin at certain points in the knees and back might improve pain and function in people with osteoarthritis of the knee.
- Parkinson disease. Early research shows that dilute bee venom injections may improve symptoms in people with Parkinson disease. But if the dose of bee venom is too low, it might not help.
- Stroke. Bee venom acupuncture seems to improve pain but not movement in people with shoulder pain after stroke.
- A condition that causes nerve pain, itching, and dark patches of skin on the upper back (notalgia paresthetica).
- Nerve pain.
- Painful conditions caused by overuse of tendons (tendinopathy).
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
- Other conditions.
Dosing & administration
- For reducing the severity of allergic reactions to bee stings: Healthcare providers 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.
Interactions with pharmaceuticals
Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants)
Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Bee venom might increase the immune system. By increasing the immune system, bee venom might decrease the effectiveness of medications that decrease the immune system.
Some medications that decrease the immune system include azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), corticosteroids (glucocorticoids), and others.