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Suffering From Rheumatoid Arthritis? Get The Buzz On Bee Venom Acupuncture

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which the body's defense system attacks the tissues that line the joints. It's characterized by inflammation, pain, stiffness, and often deformities of the affected joints. While there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, there is a new symptom treatment method germinating hope for sufferers of this condition. If you have RA, read on to learn how bee venom acupuncture may offer you some relief.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Traditional acupuncture is based on an ancient Chinese belief that the body has 2000 connected energy points that make up 20 energy paths, or meridians. When the flow of energy inside any one of these meridians is disrupted, the body responds with pain and/or illness.

It is believed that a disrupted energy flow can be remedied by inserting very small needles at precise locations along the meridians. The needles alert the brain of the precise location that it needs to focus its healing abilities on. Furthermore, the needles create signals that travel through the spinal cord to the brain, triggering the release of endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that act as the body's own, natural pain medication. 

So Where Does Bee Venom Come Into Play?

While traditional acupuncture alone can provide some relief for RA sufferers, acupuncturists have determined that those benefits can be amplified with the addition of heat, electrical pulses, and (most recently discovered) honeybee venom to the acupuncture needles.

Bee venom is thought to be especially helpful in combating the symptoms of RA because its main ingredient is melittin -- an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral biotoxin compound that works to destroy infected cells. 

Is Bee Venom Acupuncture Safe For The Bees?

Bee venom collection was once frowned upon because the only way to collect the venom was to kill the bees that produced it. However, with the looming threat of colony collapse disorder, new, safe-for-bees collection devices have been introduced to the market.

These new devices rely on a mild electrical shock to extract the venom from honeybees. The shock irritates the bees just enough to trigger their sting responses, but not enough to actually injure them. In fact, there is some speculation that the pheromones released by bees as their venom is collected triggers the colony's queen to lay eggs more intensely, thus strengthening the colony.

Is Bee Venom Acupuncture Safe For Those With Bee Allergies?

Your body will have many of the same reactions to bee venom acupuncture as it would if you were to get stung by a bee. If you are hypersensitive to bee stings, it is not safe to jump right into bee venom acupuncture for rheumatoid arthritis.

Instead, seek clearance from your primary care doctor and visit an allergy specialist for bee venom desensitization. You may be able to decrease your body's response to bee venom, allowing you to seek bee venom therapy for RA in the future. It usually takes between 36 and 48 months to see results from bee venom desensitization.

Is Bee Venom Acupuncture Painful?

During treatment, you may experience a burning or stinging sensation at the needle injection sites. This is your body's normal response to melittin. The pain may worsen in concordance with how long the needle remains in your skin, but will gradually subside as your brain sends endorphins to the affected area. Following your treatment, you may have some slight soreness around your injection sites, which can be eased with the use of a cold compress. 

The number of injections you'll need and the duration of time the needles remain in your skin will vary depending on the severity of your RA and the location of your affected joints. Your acupuncturist will discuss the number of injections and length of treatment during your consultation. 

Does Bee Venom Acupuncture Have Any Proven Results?

Yes. While there is still much to learn about the benefits of bee venom acupuncture, there have been several animal studies that prove the treatment method can decrease inflammation, reduce pain, and lessen morning joint stiffness in those suffering from RA. 

If you're taking a doctor-prescribed medication to treat the symptoms of RA, but are still experiencing pain, swelling, and stiffness of your joints, it may be time to schedule an appointment with an acupuncturist. Bee venom acupuncture can be taken in conjunction with other medications, and has proven effective in soothing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Click here for more information about acupuncture and arthritis treatment.