Apitherapy, or bee therapy, is the use of products of the common honeybee for therapeutic purposes. (The term comes from the Latin apis, which means “bee.” Honeybee venom, bee pollen, raw honey, royal jelly, and propolis are the products generally considered to have medicinal effects. These products are said to be effective against a wide range of ailments, from arthritis and chronic pain to multiple sclerosis and cancer, although few scientific studies have as yet proved their benefits. The history of apitherapy extends back to ancient Egypt, Greece, and China. Even Hippocrates, the Greek physician known as the “father of medicine,” used bee venom to treat arthritis and other joint problems. Austrian physician Phillip Terc initiated the modern study of bee venom and intentional bee stings when he published his article “Report about a Peculiar Connection Between the Beestings and Rheumatism” in 1888. The late beekeeper Charles Mraz of Middlebury, Vermont, is credited with popularizing bee venom therapy over the past 60 years in the United States. Today, thousands of medical professionals and lay practitioners use apitherapy throughout the world.
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