An ancient Chinese medicine protocol known as "apitherapy" appears to be making a resurgence in modern times, as scientists continue to uncover the many amazing healing powers of bees and the substances they produce.
And a new study recently published in the journal Antiviral Therapy affirms this, having found that bee venom, which is released during a bee sting, may hold the key to targeting and destroying HIV.
As reported by U.S. News & World Report, scientists from the Washington University (WU) School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, identified the presence of a compound known as melittin that they say exhibits powerful anti-HIV effects. The bee venom toxin was visibly observed to destroy the viral components of HIV while leaving healthy cells unharmed.
For their research, Joshua Hood and his colleagues from WU attached melittin to nanoparticles that are smaller than HIV. They then applied the resulting substance to HIV itself, where it was clearly observed to "rip holes" in the outer layer of the virus, effectively destroying it. But because of the particles' size, they did not harm healthy cells in the body.
According to ScienceNews.org, the team also applied the solution to healthy human cells obtained from vaginal walls. They observed that the substance did not visibly affect these healthy cells at all, illustrating the unique nature of the bee venom in differentiating between the cells it is supposed to attack, and the cells it is supposed to leave unharmed.
"Based on this finding, we propose that melittin-loaded nanoparticles are well-suited for use as topical vaginal HIV virucidal agents," wrote the authors in their paper. "Out hope is that in places where HIV is running rampant, people could use this as a preventative measure to stop the initial infections."As far as HIV potentially growing resistance to the treatment later on down the road, researchers believe such a scenario will never materialize due to the nature of the mechanistic action. Because bee venom specifically destroys the outer layer of the virus, which results in the virus itself dying, there is little or no chance of resistance ever developing.
"Theoretically, melittin nanoparticles are not susceptible to HIV mutational resistance seen with standard HIV therapies," added the research team. "By disintegrating the [virus'] lipid envelope, [it's] less likely to develop resistance to the melittin nanoparticles."
Propolis, royal jelly, bee pollen, and raw honey may also target HIV
However, the use of nanoparticles, which have never been proven safe, is not actually necessary for bee venom to do its work. A patent issued to Vespa Laboratories, Inc. back in 1989 reveals that the use of melittin as a natural antiretroviral treatment was known long before nanoparticles were even invented (or discovered), which means the substance itself, without modification, possesses anti-HIV properties.
And besides bee venom, many other bee products may also target HIV naturally without the need for deadly antiretroviral drugs and therapies. Numerous scientific studies have shown that bee propolis, for instance, is loaded with biologically-active substances that stimulate immunity and prevent HIV replication. And royal jelly, which is considered by many to be a "perfect food," contains all sorts of beneficial hormones, vitamins, and other nutrients that naturally promote strong immunity and the proliferation of healthy cells.
"Five bee products are involved in apitherapy protocol for the treatment of HIV/AIDS," explains an article posted on ProNutrition.org. "These are honey, pollen, royal jelly, propolis, and bee venom. The first four can be used as food supplements and [medications], while bee venom is only applicable as medicine for HIV/AIDS and other disease conditions."