Other Bee Products

A variety of bee products other than bee venom also are used in apitherapy. These products often are recommended for MS and those symptoms that may occur with the disease, such as fatigue, weakness, visual difficulties, and memory problems. No evidence suggests that these products are effective for MS or MS-associated symptoms.

Bee Pollen

Bee pollen, which is composed of plant pollens, plant nectars, and bee saliva, is sometimes recommended to lessen fatigue, increase strength, and improve many other ailments. It contains a variety of nutrients, but it also may be contaminated with rodent debris, bacteria, insects, and the eggs and feces of insects. Rarely, bee pollen may cause severe allergic reactions, especially in those with pollen allergies. Asthma may worsen after bee pollen use. Isolated reports suggest that liver toxicity may be associated with bee pollen. Pollen could increase the risk of liver toxicity associated with some MS medications, such as interferons and methotrexate. Studies of bee pollen use in college and high school athletes have not demonstrated improvement in physical performance. There are no clear reasons for consuming bee pollen because it has no clear therapeutic properties and may have adverse effects.

Propolis

Propolis, a waxlike material also known as "bee glue," is collected by bees from buds on poplar and conifer trees and is used to repair cracks in hives. It may be weakly effective in killing a variety of bacteria and viruses. Limited studies have shown both stimulation and suppression of immune system activity. Propolis may facilitate the healing of mouth lesions and genital herpes lesions. One component of propolis, caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), has anti-inflammatory effects and, in one study, decreased the severity of disease in EAE, the animal model of MS. Whether propolis has an effect on MS is not known—no published clinical studies have been undertaken of propolis use in MS. No studies have systematically examined the safety of propolis use. Propolis may cause allergic reactions, especially in people with allergies to bees or bee products.

Raw Honey

It is sometimes claimed that honey contains valuable minerals and vitamins. Actually, honey contains approximately 80 percent sugar and 20 percent water. The mineral and vitamin content of honey is very low. Honey applied to the skin may improve healing from burns. No clinical studies have been undertaken of honey use in MS. Honey consumption is generally safe.

Royal Jelly

Royal jelly is recommended for many conditions, including some MS-associated symptoms such as weakness, depression, cognitive difficulties, and sexual problems. Royal jelly is a white substance produced by worker bees and is important in the development of queen bees. It has many chemical constituents, including neopterin, which is a compound secreted by immune system cells, and royalisin, a protein that has antibiotic activity. As with propolis, a small number of studies suggest that royal jelly may activate or suppress the immune system. No clinical studies exist of royal jelly use in MS. Royal jelly may provoke asthma; in one case, royal jelly was associated with a fatal asthma attack. Royal jelly use also has been associated with allergic reactions, including nasal congestion, itching, hives, and severe breathing difficulties (anaphylaxis). People with asthma or significant allergies should use royal jelly with caution.

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