NWPF

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 News

Sep 12 - Australian Researchers Develop New Diagnostic Tool to Spot Early Signs of Parkinson’s
Sep 11 - GeneFo Webinar to Focus on Using Humor to Manage Parkinson’s Disease
Sep 6 - Parkinson’s and the ‘D’ word
Sep 6 - Compounds in Asthma Drugs Might Be Used as Parkinson’s Treatment
Sep 5 - AstraZeneca Joins Takeda, Berg to Advance Development of Parkinson’s Disease Therapies
Sep 1 - Stem Cell Transplant Trial in Parkinson’s Patients Planned After Test in Japan Succeeds in Monkeys
Sep 1 - Titan to Start Phase 1/2 Study of Subdermal Implant to Deliver Requip to Parkinson’s Patients
Aug 30 - FDA Refuses Acorda’s Inbrija New Drug Application Due to Manufacturing Questions
Aug 23 - Support Groups: Are They for You?
Aug 22 - Internet Visits with Parkinson’s Specialist Can Be as Effective as In-person Visits, Trial Finds
Aug 21 - Cavion’s New CMO to Lead Cav3 Platform Development for Neurological Diseases
Aug 15 - Singing Helps Early-stage Parkinson’s Patients Retain Speech, Respiratory Control, Studies Show
Aug 14 - 16 Tips to Increase Your Mobility Confidence While Living With Parkinson’s Disease
Aug 10 - Boxers are fighting back against Parkinson’s
Aug 9 - Parkinson’s Experiment to Be Aboard Next Flight to International Space Station
Aug 9 - Parkinson’s Disease and Sleeping with the Enemy
Aug 7 - The Importance of Oral Health in Parkinson’s Disease
Aug 7 - Researchers Gain Better Insight Into Alpha-Synuclein’s Role in Parkinson’s Disease
Jul 31 - New Digital Cognitive Assessment Tool Receives Positive FDA Review
Jul 20 - Parkinson’s DREAM Challenge Uses Mobile Sensor Data to Monitor Health Based on Movement