BVT for MS

Several years ago I saw a news program on the use of honeybees as a treatment for multiple sclerosis. I found this interesting, but surely I did not need anything that drastic, since I was working 40-50 hours a week as a nurse and I was fully ambulatory.

How quickly things can change when you have MS. Nine years ago I had to go on disability because I needed a cane and could walk only short distances, I could no longer drive, I had tremendous fatigue, and I had to take two-hour siestas and still had to be in bed by 9. I also had intractable vertigo that no prescribed medication could help. Did I mention urinary incontinence? I had to go to the bathroom every few hours.

This lasted until 2003, when I found Pat Wagner’s website- -and ordered her book, How Well Are You Willing to Bee? I also bought some long locking forceps and a “bee hotel.” I was able to get bees for free from a local beekeeper, who is a wonderful person, as most beekeepers tend to be.

The treatment lasted six weeks, and my husband graciously gave me eight to ten stings three times a week (you start out with one or two stings to test for allergy). I also got an EpiPen prescription from my doctor, in case of an anaphylactic reaction. Lots of people think they are allergic to bees, but they don’t realize that a little redness at the site is not a true allergic reaction. When your tongue swells and you can’t breathe-for most people, this qualifies as an allergic reaction.

Did it hurt? How you rate the pain depends on your tolerance, but it usually lasts only 30-45 seconds after you get stung. I would generally take two ibuprofen an hour beforehand and then ice the sites I was going to sting. I would use a warm washcloth on the site after receiving the stings, to help disperse the venom from the sites.

Was it worth it? I would do it again in a heartbeat. I am now walking independently, although sometimes I overdue it and begin to stagger a little. I’m driving without hand controls or any other type of assistance, but sometimes I wish I had a GPS system. My fatigue has eased significantly, but my short-term memory is variable and I still have my MS moments. Summer is still my worse season, but I’m now able to do water aerobics outside, as long as it’s early in the morning.

- Susan Brommage, R.N., M.S.N.
January 07, 2009