Background: Bee sting therapy is increasingly used to treat patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the belief that it can stabilize or ameliorate the disease. However, there are no clinical studies to justify its use.
Methods: In a randomized, crossover study, we assigned 26 patients with relapsing-remitting or relapsing secondary progressive MS to 24 weeks of medically supervised bee sting therapy or 24 weeks of no treatment. Live bees (up to a maximum of 20) were used to administer bee venom three times per week. The primary outcome was the cumulative number of new gadolinium-enhancing lesions on T1-weighted MRI of the brain. Secondary outcomes were lesion load on T2*-weighted MRI, relapse rate, disability (Expanded Disability Status Scale, Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite, Guy's Neurologic Disability Scale), fatigue (Abbreviated Fatigue Questionnaire, Fatigue Impact Scale), and health-related quality of life (Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short Form General Health Survey).
Results: During bee sting therapy, there was no significant reduction in the cumulative number of new gadolinium-enhancing lesions. The T2*-weighted lesion load further progressed, and there was no significant reduction in relapse rate. There was no improvement of disability, fatigue, and quality of life. Bee sting therapy was well tolerated, and there were no serious adverse events.
Conclusions: In this trial, treatment with bee venom in patients with relapsing multiple sclerosis did not reduce disease activity, disability, or fatigue and did not improve quality of life.