Chris Kleronomos aims to “bring apitherapy out into the light.”

Chris became interested in natural medicine while serving in the U.S. Navy. As a Corpsman he provided battlefield first aid and medical treatment to Force Reconnaissance where he learned of the value of plants for both survival and medicine. The USMC Force Recon Units are the Marines version of the Army’s Green Beret or Navy’s SEAL Teams and fall under the Joint Special Operations Command. After the service he followed this interest and studied for a master’s degree in Oriental Medicine, at the Midwest College of Oriental Medicine, and then completed a doctoral program focusing on oncology and chronic disease, at Bastyr University in Seattle.

Chris Kleronomos is an activist. In the 2002 he worked in Cambodia for WildAid and Conservation International —which aims to end illegal wildlife trade, largely resulting from the trade in natural products (plant and animal) for medicine. He is an outspoken supporter of the value of natural healing in treating chronic pain and other disorders. And, as a newly elected board member of the AAS, he is working tirelessly to educate the public about apitherapy.

A Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM), Chris applies a holistic approach to the care of his patients, which includes attention to diet and nutrition and the provision of herbs, acupuncture, and apipuncture. He draws on several areas of medicine, both traditional and nontraditional. For example, in treating a patient with MS, he uses the biomedical disease model and determines which processes are at work. Next he employs what in Oriental Medicine is called “pattern differentiation”—a complex of symptoms that create a syndrome picture—to refine the diagnosis of the disease presentation and to more accurately treat the individual. Finally he incorporates elements of nursing theory: prevention, direct care, a focus on the patient. Taken together, all these approaches help him decide on a treatment.
Nursing holds great appeal for Chris, who is in training to become a Family Nurse Practitioner. “One thing nursing does well is to consider the psycho-social impacts that are often critical to understanding the underlying cause of the barriers to treatment.” This methodology is a good fit for Chris, as his wife is completing her Doctorate in Psychology and brings an additional layer to his treatments with the addition of counseling and biofeedback techniques.

It was in 2001, in his master’s program in Oriental Medicine that Chris first heard about apitherapy. He was so impressed with reports of its effectiveness that he went on to spend six months with the professor, treating patients. “By the end of this period,” he says, “There were people with MS who first came in wheelchairs and were now driving in themselves.” He has his own success story as well. As a recipient of bee stings from his six-year-old son, Dakota, for chronic pain, he claims, “I know nothing else that works as well.”

Later in 2006—as part of his quest for information about ways of incorporating bee venom therapy into his practice—he heard about the AAS. Ultimately he had several productive conversations with now-board member Kate McWiggins (another resident of the Seattle area), who introduced him to Theo Cherbuliez.
Chris’s biggest goal for the AAS is “bringing apitherapy out into the light”—a goal that, he says, may be less difficult than we think. Complementary and alternative medicine’s therapies are becoming increasingly accepted, and the topic of apitherapy’s effectiveness is attracting growing research interest.

One way that the AAS might take advantage of these trends is to consider establishing ties with schools and research institutes. Another possibility is for the AAS to develop a peer-review process for apitherapists. This would help the organization further its professional image and serve as a potential source for patients and practitioners of definitive, accurate, and dependable information. Noting that on several occasions the AAS has responded to medical journals to dispute the quality of research that they have published, Chris hopes that the AAS can continue this tradition and become the “go-to” expert in apitherapy.

Chris is now working toward that goal as he heads an AAS working group that is compiling and formalizing apitherapy information into a series of monographs. The AAS should, he says, be “the protector and preserver of knowledge that in the United States might otherwise become marginalized or even lost.”