Bee venom is a miraculous natural bee product used for thousands of years in health and beauty. This particular venom, produced by bees to protect themselves and their hives, offers impressive benefits for skin health and beauty due to its valuable components. In this bulletin, we will explore the surprising effects of bee venom, making it an indispensable part of skincare. Let's first take an in-depth look at bee venom and refresh our knowledge!
What is Bee Venom?
Bee venom is a natural substance produced in the venom sacs of female worker bees within the hive as a defense mechanism against threats. Also known as apitoxin, bee venom is delivered through a channel directly connected to the venom sac, activated when the bee stings.
Physical Properties of Bee Venom:
Bee venom is yellowish, has a mildly sweet and acrid taste, and possesses a sharp odor. In its natural state, bee venom is a liquid that can crystallize after exposure to air, forming a physicochemical structure. Bee venom appears as a clear, odorless liquid substance with a watery consistency. It is clear and acidic, and at room temperature, it loses about 30-40% of its weight as it dries, crystallizing and turning into a light yellow color.
Chemical Composition of Bee Venom:
Approximately 12% of bee venom consists of sugars such as glucose and fructose, minerals like calcium and magnesium, enzymes, proteins, peptides, fats, volatile compounds, and at least 18 pharmacologically active components, including biogenic amines like dopamine and norepinephrine. The remaining approximately 88% is composed of water.
Why is Bee Venom So Valuable?
Young worker bees have a limited ability to produce bee venom. They start producing bee venom at three days and reach their highest production level when they are 2 to 3 weeks old. After that, their ability to make bee venom decreases. An adult bee can carry 0.15-0.3 mg of bee venom in its venom glands. As bee venom comprises approximately 88% water, only 0.1 µg of dried bee venom can be obtained from a single bee, meaning that only 1 gram can be collected from a hive of 10,000 bees.
How is Bee Venom Obtained?
To obtain bee venom, a glass plate is placed at the entrance of the hive. The glass plate is charged with a low-level electric current that does not harm the bees. When the bees pass through this plate, they deposit their venom. The bee venom left on the glass plate is collected by beekeepers using a razor blade after it gets dry.
Does Harvesting Bee Venom Harm the Bees?
When bees sting, they lose their stingers, nerves, and muscles, leading to their death. However, the glass plates used in bee venom collection do not cause the bees to lose their stingers. Consequently, collecting bee venom using glass plates does not harm the bees.
Benefits of Bee Venom Bee venom contains various bioactive compounds, including:
- Peptides such as melittin, apamin, adolapin, and MCD
- Enzymes like phospholipase and hyaluronidase
- Amino acid components like dopamine and norepinephrine
Due to these bioactive components, bee venom has positive effects on the following conditions:
- Immune system diseases
- Central and peripheral nervous system diseases
- Cardiovascular system diseases
- Joint and rheumatic diseases
It also exhibits the following effects:
- Antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, anticancer, and analgesic (pain-relieving) properties.
Regarding skin health, bee venom has the following benefits:
- Assists in wound healing
- Combats acne and pimples
- Anti-aging and wrinkle-reducing properties
- Helps regulate the skin's tone
- Provides support in treating conditions such as vitiligo, psoriasis, eczema, and atopic dermatitis, reducing itching in these conditions
- Known to be effective against alopecia (hair loss)
Positive Effects of Bee Venom on Skin Wrinkles
A scientific study at Duzce University in 2022 aimed to develop a skin care product containing bee venom, propolis, honey, beeswax, and royal jelly. This study prepared a prototype cream formulation with 0.1% bee venom, 0.3% propolis extract, 0.45% honey, and 1.0% royal jelly and analyzed for stability, antioxidant activity, dermatological response, and cytotoxicity. In addition, a panel test evaluated its effects on skin smoothness, nourishment feeling, hydration, skin tone, luminous appearance, and skin wrinkles with healthy women volunteers aged 33-70. According to the results, the formulation caused the skin to become silky smooth, contributed to hydration, brightened and nourished the skin, evened the skin tone, reduced the visibility of wrinkles, improved skin elasticity, and smoothed the wrinkles. In addition, the anti-aging effects of the product containing bee venom were successfully confirmed by over 90% of the subjects. In conclusion, the cream formulation containing bee venom and other bee products has a positive effect in removing the signs of skin aging.
A scientific study conducted at Kyung Hee University Biotechnology Center in Korea in 2015 investigated the effect of bee venom on facial wrinkles induced by photoaging and the natural aging process. Twenty-two women between the ages of 30-49 participated in the study. The participants met the criteria for inclusion in the study determined by the dermatologist. Ten participants had mild photodamage, while twelve had moderate skin damage. For 12 weeks, the participants used the bee venom of a concentration of 0.006 % twice daily. The study showed that bee venom serum treatment improved facial wrinkles by reducing the wrinkle area, total wrinkle count, and average depth. Researchers concluded that using bee venom as an anti-wrinkle agent in skin care products may be safe and effective.
Positive Effects of Bee Venom on Acne
A scientific study in Korea in 2020 evaluated the effect of bee venom and melittin, the main component of bee venom, on the formation of acne caused by Cutibacterium acnes. In this study, it was observed that bee venom and melittin inhibited the synthesis of precursor factors that cause sebum increase and inflammation in the skin by blocking a signaling pathway. This study proved, for the first time, anti-lipogenesis, anti-inflammatory, and anti-C. acnes activity of bee venom and melittin, suggesting its potential as a natural anti-acne agent.
A scientific study conducted at Charles Sturt University in Australia in 2016 examined the effect of bee venom therapy on acne vulgaris. The study included 30 patients with mild to moderate acne vulgaris who received bee venom therapy (serum application to the skin) for six weeks. The lesions on the patient's skin were examined at the beginning of the study and at the 3rd and 6th weeks. The results showed that bee venom therapy resulted in a 20% improvement at week three and a 77% improvement at week six compared to the beginning of the study. The six-week treatment with bee venom serum effectively treated mild to moderate acne vulgaris without any side effects or irritation.
Positive Effects of Bee Venom on Psoriasis
A scientific study conducted in Egypt in 2013 investigated the effectiveness of bee venom and propolis on local plaque psoriasis. Forty-eight participants were divided into four groups:
- Group I received intradermal bee venom injections twice a week.
- Group II used a topical cream containing propolis.
- Group III took one oral propolis capsule per day.
- Group IV received intradermal bee venom injections and oral and topical propolis.
The study's outcome was evaluated by calculating the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) score and measuring serum interleukin-1β (IL-1β) levels before and after treatment. A significant reduction was observed in both the PASI score and serum IL-1β levels in all groups. Changes in the PASI score and IL-1β were significantly higher in Group I and Group IV. The authors suggest bee venom and propolis be used as a supplement to medical treatment in managing local plaque psoriasis.
Positive Effects of Bee Venom on Eczema and Atopic Dermatitis
In 2016, a double-blind, randomized controlled trial was conducted with 136 patients suffering from atopic dermatitis, yielding remarkable results. The experimental group was treated with a mixture containing bee venom applied to the entire body twice a day, while the control group received a mixture without bee venom. The study showed that the group treated with bee venom had significantly lower eczema severity and itch scores than the control group. These findings indicate that bee venom is a safe and effective treatment for atopic dermatitis.
In another study conducted at Daegu University in 2018, the effect of melittin, the main component of bee venom, on atopic dermatitis was examined. The research was conducted in vivo (using living organisms) and in vitro (using human keratin cells). The results were quite impressive! It was found that bee venom significantly reduces skin damage associated with atopic dermatitis and suppresses inflammation. This study demonstrated that bee venom treatments could significantly support patients with atopic dermatitis.
Positive Effects of Bee Venom on Wound Healing
In a scientific study conducted in South Korea in 2013, the effect of bee venom on wound healing was investigated. The study examined the effect of bee venom on the renewal of skin cells and migration to the wound area in vitro. Also, it evaluated its impact on the proinflammatory response by looking at the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-8 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α. The study showed that bee venom treatment resulted in more keratinocyte proliferation and migration than the control group. Additionally, there were decreases in IL-8 and TNF-α levels. The study's results suggest that the application of bee venom locally has the potential to support wound treatment and cell renewal. In another exciting study conducted in Korea in 2011, the effects of bee venom treatments on wound healing in rats were investigated. Wounds formed on the rats' backs were monitored daily after applying bee venom treatments. Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1, fibronectin, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and collagen-I were observed as biomarkers. The results revealed a significant reduction in wound size in the experimental group of rats after applying bee venom. Furthermore, it was observed that the levels of TGF-β1, fibronectin, and VEGF mRNA markers decreased. In contrast, the level of collagen-I mRNA increased in the experimental group, indicating improved wound healing in response to bee venom treatment.
Positive Effects of Bee Venom on Vitiligo
In a scientific study conducted at Dongguk University in Korea in 2007, the effectiveness of bee venom on skin pigmentation was investigated, specifically focusing on its potential effects on vitiligo. During this study, researchers examined how bee venom influences melanocyte proliferation, melanogenesis (the production of melanin), dendrite formation, and migration through the complex in vitro signaling pathways responsible for pigmentation. Based on the data gathered from the study, researchers highlighted that bee venom could be utilized to support repigmentation in vitiligo-affected skin. The findings suggested that bee venom may have beneficial effects on melanocyte functions and could be a potential treatment option to promote repigmentation in the skin of individuals with vitiligo.
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