(Natural News) Honey bees (Apis mellifera) are known for producing honey, one of the most useful edible natural products in the world. Honey bees also play a crucial role in maintaining the health of natural ecosystems, as they serve as pollinators that help plants reproduce. In fact, honey bees pollinate more than 100 different crops that humans and other animals use for food. This is equivalent to over 90 percent of the leading crops cultivated worldwide.
But honey bees, it turns out, can serve other functions besides producing honey, sustaining ecosystems and ensuring the growth of healthy crops. In a new study published in npj Precision Oncology, Australian and American researchers reported that honey bees are also a great source of anti-cancer agents.
Honey bee venom is a colorless acidic liquid honey bees excrete through their stingers when they are threatened. It contains numerous compounds with different biological activities. The researchers found that honey bee venom and its major component, melittin, can effectively kill cancer cells, even those that belong to one of the most aggressive types of cancer.
Honey bee venom: a venom that could save lives
Apitherapy is the ancient medicinal practice of using bee products, namely, honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and bee venom, for disease prevention and treatment purposes. Its roots can be traced back to the time of the Ancient Egyptians. Apitherapy is also a feature of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Ancient records describe honey as a remedy for various ailments, including cough, stomach pains, dry throat, dry skin and constipation.
Today, apitherapy is a popular complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). In particular, bee venom therapy is recognized for its potential in alleviating the symptoms of painful inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Other modern uses for apitherapy include treating multiple sclerosis and infections, and as a natural remedy for burns, wounds and tendonitis. (Related: Dermal injection of purified honey bee venom found to reduce knee osteoarthritis pain.)