News ArchivesRead News
Bee-Venom Acupuncture Shows Promise in Parkinson's
Wednesday June 18, 2014
Michael W. Smith, MD
WebMD - Both acupuncture and bee-venom acupuncture improved symptoms in people with Parkinson’s disease, a small study shows.
Acupuncture has been used for years in Asia to relieve Parkinson’s symptoms. Early studies show it may help protect nerve cells like the ones the disease destroys. Researchers have also been looking into bee venom’s ability to ease inflammation in nerve cells. This is one of the first studies to test whether acupuncture and bee-venom acupuncture can help Parkinson’s.
Many of the symptoms from Parkinson’s develop when brain cells that make the brain chemical dopamine are destroyed. Why this happens isn’t clear.
Researcher Seong-Uk Park, MD, says acupuncture may help by increasing dopamine levels. Acupuncture may also enhance the effects of the Parkinson’s drug L-dopa and lessen the drug’s side effects, he says. Park is with the Stroke and Neurological Disorders Center, Kyung Hee University Hospital, Gangdong, Seoul, Korea.
The study's results are important, as 70% of people in some countries use complementary therapies to help treat Parkinson’s disease, says Louis Tan, MD. Tan is with the National Neuroscience Institute in Singapore and was not involved in the study.
The study was presented at the recent 18th International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders.
How Bee-Venom Acupuncture Might Help
The treatment involves injecting bee venom under the skin at an acupuncture point. It’s thought this may help enhance and prolong the effects of stimulation of acupuncture points.
"So the mechanisms of bee-venom acupuncture might be similar to those of acupuncture. Or there could be another effect due to the bee venom itself," Park says.
Tan suggests that bee venom could act like botulinum toxin (the toxin in Botox), causing a temporary paralysis of the muscles. Some Parkinson’s symptoms include muscle spasms that can cause pain and trouble moving. Bee venom may help relax these muscles.
In the study, 35 patients with Parkinson's disease who had been on a stable dose of medication for at least a month were randomly assigned to three groups. One group received acupuncture, another received bee-venom acupuncture, and the third group received neither. The treatment was repeated twice a week for 8 weeks.
Symptoms improved in those who received bee-venom acupuncture or regular acupuncture. There were no serious side effects in either group. One person who received bee-venom acupuncture complained of itchiness. Those who received no treatment had no change in their symptoms.
The results are promising, but more research is needed before we can draw any firm conclusions, Park says. He says a second study is now under way, and it's expected to be completed later this year.
"Acupuncture is quite commonly used for Parkinson's disease, but hard evidence of benefit is lacking," Tan says.
Smith, Michael W. (18 June 2014). WebMD. Bee-Venom Acupuncture Shows Promise in Parkinson's. http://www.webmd.com/parkinsons-disease/news/20140618/bee-venom-acupunture-parkinsons
Recent NewsJul 20 - Parkinson’s DREAM Challenge Uses Mobile Sensor Data to Monitor Health Based on Movement
Jul 19 - What Young-onset Parkinson’s Can Look Like
Jul 7 - Parkinson’s Patients Have a Higher Risk of Developing Melanoma — and Vice Versa, Study Finds
Jun 27 - The rogue protein behind Parkinson’s disease may also protect your gut
Jun 26 - Do Statins Increase Risk of Parkinson’s Disease? Some Researchers Think So
Jun 22 - A Confused Immune System Could Be Behind Parkinson's Disease
Jun 21 - Predicting cognitive deficits in people with Parkinson’s disease
Jun 20 - Gym offers classes in noncontact boxing for Parkinson’s patients
Jun 19 - Human Limitations Could Prevent Us From Advancing in Science. AI Could Help.
Jun 13 - Brain Cell Transplants Are Being Tested Once Again For Parkinson's
Jun 12 - Smell Test May Sniff Out Oncoming Parkinson's and Alzheimer's
Jun 8 - Smartphones Track Motor Function in Parkinson's Disease
Jun 8 - GKC Enrolls First Patient in Personal KinetiGraph Trial as Part of NPF’s Parkinson’s Outcomes Project
Jun 8 - Low-fat dairy intake may raise Parkinson's risk
Jun 6 - Patient Voices: Parkinson's Disease
Jun 1 - World-First Trials Have Been Launched to Treat Parkinson's And Blindness With Embryonic Stem Cells
Jun 1 - LIFE Shared This Remarkable Parkinson's Disease Story in 1959.
May 24 - Survival Rates Differ Widely in Parkinson's, MSA, Lewy Bodies
May 22 - Discovery may offer hope to Parkinson's disease patients
May 15 - Study offers answers on life expectancy for people with Parkinson's disease, Lewy body dementia