Is relief round the corner for multiple sclerosis patients in the form of bee stings?

A recent development can raise the hopes of many sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) – a dreaded, debilitating, fatal nerve disorder. Charity worker Sami Chugg, 45, claims to have overcome her condition after being stung by bees. Nearly 85,000 Britons have MS, a condition in which immune cells attack the protective myelin sheath that normally surrounds the nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord. Initially, the body can repair the damage, but over time the nerves become scarred and stop transmitting signals. Slowly the persons develops complete paralysis.

She was diagnosed with MS 12 years back and slowly had become totally paralyzed. She was undergoing the revolutionary Bee Venom Therapy or Apitherapy. After bring stung by more than 1,500 bees over 18 months she has shown positive results.

The treatment involves taking bee held within a pair of tweezers close to the patient’s skin especially over the back and spine and getting it to sting. According to scientists the sting causes the body to release some inflammation causing chemicals that may have a role in healing this nerve disorder. While Ms Chugg was bed ridden with the disease, this therapy has made her get back to her feet. She says, "This has changed my life." She said: 'Most people would be terrified by the prospect of being stung by a bee...But when you have a condition like MS, that involves the numbing of the body, any kind of sensation is welcome - even if it's from a bee sting.” 

She also said that the process of the stinging is specific, “you gradually de-sensitise your body to the sting by injecting it in and out of your skin a few times….You have to be very careful, in case your body is prone to anaphylactic shock – which can be fatal. You can't just walk in there and encourage the bees to sting you randomly…Sadly bees are killed by stinging, so you certainly only want to do this for a very good cause. But the relief it gave me was tremendous,”she said.

She now campaigns for the 'Safe Land for Bees' project, which aims to raise awareness of the decline in bee populations. She said: 'I became very concerned. I owed bees an awful lot and I felt they were a vital part of our ecosystem…Life without them would be unimaginable, because the work they do as pollinators basically keeps our environment ticking over.”

A spokesperson from the MS society however said that this disease has a waxing and waning course and some patients at some times may have lesser symptoms than others. This means that the exact utility of the therapy may be questionable according to him.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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