Arthritis

RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS & APITHERAPY

One year ago, June 2009, I began yet another new treatment for my uncontrollable rheumatoid arthritis disease, my fourth drug change. My doctor put me on a fairly new drug treatment that was supposed to be a strong medicine to use against RA; the medicine was Rituxan. Rituxan is an IV infusion drug that is very expensive, $200,000 a year or $50,000 a treatment, to maintain my arthritis and beat back the pain I was experiencing. I did have some insurance coverage to assist with the expense. When receiving this new medicine, I was required to lay down for 5-6 hours while the poisonous chemicals ran into my body. Within the first half hour, my body’s natural response to this poisonous chemical was allergic in nature, so I had to stop the treatment and take some liquid Benadryl to make my body able to take in these chemicals. Oddly enough after all that work to make my body accept these chemicals, this expensive drug stop working after 6 months. And I was, yet again, waking up in the morning next to my husband crying because of the dread of getting out of bed and having to move my stiff painful body. On a side note, my husband had been trying to talk me into bee venom therapy (BVT) for months and after the “best” medicine around stop being effective I was more than willing to try something new, even if it seemed scary. I remember the first time I went to visit Dr. Cherbuliez, who I refer to as “the man who gave me back my life”. I was sitting next to my husband on the ride down to Freeport, scared and quiet. However, after meeting Dr. Cherbuliez my nervousness subsided and I was now anxious and curious to see what would happen. I knew I could not get any worse. Well, I found out that bee stings do not hurt as much when you know it is going to happen. They actually created a warm feeling throughout the joints that both hurt me and felt really good. Now after 3 months of BVT I am off my anti-depressant (Celexa), all RA medicine, and even stopped taking my Nexium pill (although sometimes the bee venom will make my stomach slightly upset). My husband, who is very supportive, learned how to sting me and I now get stung 17 times a week at home (and I estimate it only costs 15¢ a bee). What a terrific treatment for RA! I guess the best comment I have received was from my co-workers who thought I was crazy when I started this treatment and amazed at the results they saw as I transformed from a miserable sore person to a happy, more energetic person. Thanks Dr. Cherbuliez and to my husband, without both of you I would not be having the great summer and life that I am now. – Carol Reed, Leeds, Maine carolreed@jayschools.org July 03, 2010

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BVT for arthritis pain: stung by the realization

Ouch! I jumped a bit in pain. I’ve quietly walked into a friend’s garden to his beehive. Holding a clear masonry jar up to a hole in the hive, I knock on the top of the wooden box. Lots of bees are moving into the jar, but one has stung me, and lots of the others are buzzing around me. Oh, no! Another has flown up my coat sleeve, and now another up the other sleeve. Last June I would have panicked and run from the hive. No…. Last June I would never have walked into anyone’s garden to collect a jar full of bees. I become calm and stay still, hold the jar against the hive and slowly slide it away from the little hole and let all the buzzing ladies fly around me and slowly crawl out of my sleeve, and eventually all return to a cluster around the entry to their home. Sliding the lid back on the jar, I feel pleased with this successful harvesting of my new helpers. My husband, William, and I return home with Calypso, my standard poodle service dog, have dinner, chill the bees slightly in the fridge to slow them down, capture them in tweezers, and sting each other before going to bed. Few of my friends would consider this a normal Saturday evening—and before last summer, neither would William and I. In April I told my rheumatologist that my arthritis pain was getting much worse and that I would consider taking an arthritis drug. My pulmonologist and GP were concerned about the side effects, so I said, “No, not yet,” and just put up with rheumatoid and degenerative arthritis pain, stenosis, asthma, and type 2 diabetes. It was the time when meds for one would start causing cross-complications with the others. So, just grin and bear it (and take ibuprofen 10-15 times a week). I couldn’t walk enough to exercise my dog, so arranging doggy play dates was crucial. In August I was throwing a bright orange ball for the dogs to play with, but it rolled down the hill behind the fence. I could see the ball, so I reached around the pickets to get it. One of the dogs romped up to play this new game with me, and reached back around to paw at the ball and try to get it. Suddenly, I had a sharp pain in my left hip. I must have pinched a nerve. Then another sharp pain in my right leg, and another. Oh, no! Yellow jackets! I shouted out to my friend. She said, “Don’t move; be calm and they’ll stop stinging.” I stood still about 20 seconds and then said, “No way! I’m getting out of here.” I ran out of the garden, still being stung. My bright raspberry-colored shirt was covered with yellow jackets. I threw the shirt on the ground, and my friend ran inside for baking soda and an EpiPen. I had at least 25 stings, and they were very painful. As my friend was applying moist soda, I suddenly realized that I had no pain. I had run up the hill (ordinarily, I would limp slowly) within a minute or two of the first stings, and I now was moving around with no hand, neck, hip, or foot pain. “Okay, no more baking soda, and don’t take out the stingers.” I just calmly stood there and felt elated about feeling so good. The dogs had two or three stings each and were fine; their long curly fur had protected them. Some of the yellow jackets were still crawling and buzzing around on my shirt. We sat down to talk about this serendipitous moment. I recalled that years ago my sister-in-law had used bee venom therapy for MS. At the time I had thought it strange. Now I knew that I was going to find out more about it right away. What a great job my service dog had done, leading me into the proverbial “hornet’s nest.” I walked much more than usual that evening, feeling quite comfortable and not limping. For three days I moved more easily than usual and was energetic and excited about what this might mean. On the third day, some of the pain in my lower back and legs returned. After contacting the AAS, I found a local apitherapist, Kate McWiggins, who was able to see me right away. Kate did not expect me to have a bad reaction to the honey bees, since I’d had so many yellow jacket stings with no allergic response. Still, she gave only three stings to start. Even so, I got relief from the pain within two minutes of the stings. Kate showed William how to catch the bees in the tweezers and hold the stinger end to my skin until the girls stung me. For the next few weeks we did stings at home every three days, increasing them by one each time. We returned to Kate for more bees and more supervised stings every week. I continued to feel better after every session. It got easier for me to walk. The pain in my shoulder significantly decreased. Most of the time my hands and feet are pretty much free of pain. My lower back pain, a problematic disc, and bursitis pain in my left thigh are alleviated for several hours after stings. And my breathing has improved—I’ve used my rescue inhaler for asthma about 30% less than a year ago, and my peak flow measure of lung capacity has increased about 10%. Without noticing these improvements, I would never want to get bee stings. They hurt at first and are uncomfortable for a day or so. Just as the stings quit itching, it’s time to sting again. It takes almost an hour. When I get stung, I cry out and sometimes kick. It’s not fun. But this is nothing compared with the pain of arthritis. I had problems with weight gain and increased blood sugar
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The angels of agriculture: BVT for arthritis

“Ouch, that one really, really hurt!” That one was the kidney point representing fear.” . This is what my acupuncturist/bee venom therapist said after stinging me with a bee. Acupuncture is based on releasing stuck energy through meridian points in the body. With bee venom therapy, the process is greatly enhanced. I was introduced to BVT last October while apprenticing at Honey Gardens Apiaries. During my week there extracting and bottling honey and wrapping hives, I was stung several times. My co-workers informed me that bees are divinely inspired to sting at points where your body needs attention. I was fascinated, and I wanted to learn more. Todd Hardie, president of Honey Gardens , explained how he stings people deliberately-the healing art of BVT. I told Todd of my physical struggles, and he consulted his acupuncturist/BVT teacher regarding a plan for stings. We began the process right away. I was stung in several meridian points. Todd told me that I reacted well: I was swollen, red, and itchy for several days. But the pain from the arthritis in my knees subsided. I learned that for it to be really effective, the stinging needs to be done regularly for a period of time determined necessary. A few months later, I spent three weeks with Todd’s acupuncturist friend and experienced freedom in many ways. I had never before realized how emotions such as fear and sorrow can affect health. I will continue to seek healing from the bees by ordering my own bees and stinging myself as needed. I am amazed at the many healing facets of the bee. Bee venom therapy is just one of these. – Mary Lokers January 07, 2009

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Treatment at Apitherapy Course

In February 2005 I received two bee stings on my right lower back for chronic pain that I have had for years. The stinging was done by AAS board member Jim Higgins during the Charles Mraz Apitherapy Course in Los Angeles. Here it is a year later, and my back continues to feel great! I had previously been treated with acupuncture, physical therapy, and muscle relaxants, with no relief. In early May, I treated a 71-year-old friend who has severe osteoarthritis of the right hip. She had great difficulty walking, and she dragged her right leg as the pain radiated down to her big toe. I administered two bee stings a week apart. With the second sting, she felt almost immediate relief. Since then she has been able to walk normally with no difficulty and no pain. She is even dancing! She is enormously grateful for this treatment and for the wonderful bees. I have administered BVT to several people in the San Antonio area and a man from the Houston area. All have had excellent results. I encourage everyone to use the products of the hive, in combination with proper nutrition. – Fidelia Rodriguez, LVN January 07, 2009

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BVT for Arthritis

At age 68 I have long tried to stay in physical shape by playing racquetball twice a week, occasionally walking 18 holes of golf, and hiking—including climbing Kilimanjaro and Machu Picchu two years ago. And as a 14-year cancer survivor, I pay close attention to any new or unusual pain or feeling. Mid-summer last year, an increasing pain in my left foot became so severe that it caused me to begin falling on the racquetball court. That sent me to an orthopedist’s office. A stress fracture? Bone cancer? X-rays and then a bone scan led my doctor to say “no” to those possibilities. “You have arthritis in your foot. Take some extra-strength Tylenol.” I did, but I did not get any relief. Fortunately I read an article about bee venom therapy, and upon further inquiry I learned that the AAS was about to hold an apitherapy course. So in September my brother and fellow beekeeper, Jimmy, and I headed to Salt Lake City, where we were introduced to the ancient world of healing modalities for pain relief, MS, arthritis, shingles: apitherapy. Back home after completing the course, I began stinging myself, sometimes with Jimmy’s help, two or three times a week. I used “mini” stings in four or five places on my foot at points identified by Frederique Keller, my newfound acupuncturist/apitherapist friend. Within minutes of the first sting, the pain in my foot was almost gone. Over the next several weeks, the pain between stings was reduced by 95% or more. Some discomfort and an occasional shooting pain occurred when I was just standing or sitting, but what a difference! I also began taking one or two 400-mg capsules of propolis, pollen, and royal jelly. I remain ready to use BVT whenever old “Mr. Arthritis” comes around, and I am willing to try and help anyone who needs BVT. Am I better? I hardly ever notice any pain from my left foot. 99% improvement is darn good! – Fountain Odom fountainodom@mecklaw.como January 07, 2009

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From November 2004 issue of the Catskill Mountain Beekeepers Club newsletter

Editor’s note: This testimonial has been adapted from an article published in the November 2004 issue of the Catskill Mountain Beekeepers Club newsletter (www.catskillbees.org). The author, who is vice president and webmaster of the club, has been keeping bees for ten years and has seven hives near his house. I was more surprised than anyone when I was diagnosed with an early form of arthritis. I was told time and time again that beekeepers don’t get arthritis. When I started experiencing a dull pain and loss of strength in my hands and wrists, I went to a doctor who gave me the bad news. My doctor prescribed a month of occupational therapy, which included paraffin baths for my wrists. I enjoyed the sessions but found that they did not really fix the problem. Rather, the therapist told me that this was something that I would have to get used to for the rest of my life. A few weeks after my therapy ended, I continued to have the dull and steady ache. After rebuilding a shed on our property (carrying heavy loads, hammering nails, etc.), I started having a lot of pain, to the point where it was difficult to do my regular 9-5 work on a computer. I called my neighbor, Dick Johnson, and asked him about bee stinging for arthritis. For as long as I have known Dick, I have been interested in apitherapy and the magic of bee stings. I even took the first online apitherapy course taught by Dr. Stefan Stangaciu. But I had never seen stinging done and knew only a few people who had experienced it firsthand. All my experience and knowledge about apitherapy was academic. Dick spent 10 minutes and told me everything I needed to know, lent me an observation hive as a bee source (the bees were going to die over the winter anyway), showed me how to set up a jar, gave me some books and pamphlets, and then sent me on my way. That night I gave myself the first two stings. I continued stinging myself every day with two or three bees right on the spot where it hurt most. The pain went away! It wasn’t just reduced, it actually went away. I was really surprised. Even though I understood how everything works biologically, it was a whole new experience to feel the pain get alleviated so fast and so completely, too. I read in Charlie Mraz’s book Health and the Honey Bee how tests had been done on dogs and cats with bee stings, and then I looked over at my 18-year- old cat. Champagne had been suffering for many years with arthritis. Over the years I have watched him slow down more and more, to the point where it might take him several minutes to go up or down stairs and more than a minute to get up from a lying position. He would hiss and bite at the slightest touch on certain parts of his back. I began stinging him with one or two bees on his back and legs. Within a day or two, his movement altered dramatically. He did much better than he had in a long time. He walked much more easily, and I even saw him run from one room to another (of course, this was in response to a bee sting). He has since died, but the bee stinging did wonders to make his last few months more comfortable. I wish I had started stinging him years ago. I feel that we, as beekeepers, have a tremendous resource available to us. Apitherapy is not just bee stinging or bee venom therapy; it also includes pollen, honey, propolis, and royal jelly. Adding these items to your diet is necessary to get the full benefits of BVT, but they also contribute significantly to your overall nutrition and health. For next year, you might consider adding a pollen trap to your apiary or maybe a propolis screen, so you can start harvesting some of these treasures of the hive. If you have some arthritic pain, try placing a bee there and enticing it to sting by rubbing its abdomen in that spot. You never know how much these little doctors can do for you! – John Sturman john@bluemoonfarm.com January 07, 2009

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Arthritis and honey

About five years ago my husband and I treated a lady with severe arthritis in both her knees. Because she was unable to walk, she was quite heavy. She used two canes and couldn’t stand for more than a minute. And she was unable to drive, so her son drove her to us. She came only infrequently, as they were poor-she would come when they could afford the gas, which was anywhere from every week to every other month. Because her visits were inconsistent, we used a fairly drastic treatment. When we stung her, we did both knees and administered many stings, up to five to eight on each side. We advised her to drink lots of water to help flush out the toxins, as well as chamomile and other calming herbal teas. She used raw honey to help the itching from the stings, and lots of ice to reduce the swelling. The last time I saw her, after about a year of treatment, she was in great spirits, she was able to drive, and she stood and talked to me for more than an hour without her canes. Because she needed less help and could be left alone, her son was now able to go to work. I’m sure this reduced their financial strain, and this development may have been part of her holistic healing. Admittedly her treatment was drastic, and I probably wouldn’t advise anyone to adopt this example. And yes, there will be swelling and discomfort-when we start treatment, we must be willing to accept this discomfort as part of the healing. But BVT does work on arthritis. Helping our patients through this difficult time can be a comfort to them, and reminding them of the healing crisis will help them get through it. It is always my hope that people will at least consider natural healing before using chemical and surgical methods. – Kathi Glen ulia@telus.net January 07, 2009

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Osteoarthritis

In 1996 I developed osteoarthritis in both knees. My doctor put me on Celebrex, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), which I took for a year and a half. Once I had started the Celebrex, I could hardly tolerate a day without it. However, my condition was gradually worsening. Meanwhile, I had read some negative things about NSAIDs and wanted to stop taking the Celebrex. Against my doctor’s advice (he wanted me to double my dose!) and with the help of Dr. Stangaciu, Dr. Aguirre, Fred Malone, and other members of the Apitherapy-List, I started bee venom therapy. This helped me go off the Celebrex within two days! Over the next several months, my condition continued to improve. After about a year I stopped noticing any improvement, but I continued the BVT occasionally for another six months or so just to be sure. I still have limitations, but I’m feeling much, much better now than I have since I developed the disease. – Yvonne Bernal yvonne_bernal@hotmail.com January 07, 2009

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BVT for rheumatoid arthritis

I was born Catholic in Paterson, New Jersey, and raised in the inner city for 23 years. In 1998 I moved to Connecticut and became Muslim. I searched for God in many places and finally found Him. And then, in August 2005, he guided me to the honeybee. For one week I worked as an apprentice at Honey Gardens Apiaries, in northern Vermont, and slept in a tent behind the barn. While I was there, the AAS held the Charles Mraz Apitherapy Course nearby, and because I was working at Honey Gardens I was invited to attend. I met a group of wonderful people and learned about apitherapy. I even let them sting my back. My first thought was, these people are crazy; what are they doing? On returning home I realized what an interesting trip it had been. I was so connected to God and nature! Six months later I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I was 31 years old. I woke up one morning and couldn’t walk. I sat on the edge of the bed and cried for about half an hour trying to figure out what was wrong. Mind you, I had a six-year-old son that I needed to get ready for school. After I managed to talk him into dressing himself and getting on the school bus, I called my doctor, who told me to come right in. He took some tests. I was very emotionally distraught. A week later I woke up and again couldn’t walk. My joints were very swollen, and I was in extreme pain: I felt as though I was being stabbed with a knife. I called my doctor again. He said he had been planning to wait to give me the results until I returned to his office, but now that I was on the phone he said, “You have big-time rheumatoid arthritis” (his exact words!). I didn’t know what he was talking about. He suggested that I come to the office to talk about medicines, to prevent me from becoming crippled, and it was recommended that I go on disability. I could no longer work, and since I had worked since I was 14, I had no idea what to do with myself. I struggled for a couple of months alone, in pain and in fear. I refused to take the medicines: I am a recovering drug addict, so drugs were not my friend. I have been clean and sober for three years and am proud of it. I then remembered apitherapy and what the apitherapists had been doing in Vermont with the bees. I contacted AAS board member Glenn Perry in nearby Branford, Connecticut, and told him my story. At his urging, I went to his house right away. While he was explaining the procedure, I was so anxious that I said, “Just sting me. I don’t care how much it’s going to hurt.” And he did. Although earlier that day I could barely walk, within ten minutes the pain was gone and I felt a bit high. I could feel the venom flowing through my body. I then began ordering bees through the mail and got involved with the Back Yard Beekeepers Association of Connecticut and meeting people who kept beehives. That summer I went to someone’s house a few times to get bees. For the next six months I stung myself a couple of times a week, with much success and healing. I even began stinging my friends. I also eat honey every day to assist my healing. I am happy to say that these days I have little to no pain and I am grateful to God for this humbling experience. And I didn’t have to take any drugs. My doctors are amazed. They say that they had faith in what I decided to do, and they were very supportive. Now my job is to share this healing with others as it was shared with me by God’s wisdom and mercy! I never thought I would be going through this, but here I am. I never thought I would ever stop using drugs—I had gotten involved with them as a teen and couldn’t kick the habit. I am now taking courses in natural healing, chaplaincy, organic gardening and beekeeping. What a transformation! – Nur Moebius nur@nurshoneyspot.com January 07, 2009

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