Objective: Bee venom has been reported to have antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects in experimental studies. However, questions still remain regarding the clinical use of bee venom. This report describes the successful outcome of bee venom treatment for refractory postherpetic neuralgia.
Patient: A 72-year-old Korean man had severe pain and hypersensitivity in the region where he had developed a herpes zoster rash 2 years earlier. He was treated with antivirals, painkillers, steroids, and analgesic patches, all to no effect.
Intervention: The patient visited the East-West Pain Clinic, Kyung Hee University Medical Center, to receive collaborative treatment. After being evaluated for bee venom compatibility, he was treated with bee venom injections. A 1:30,000 diluted solution of bee venom was injected subcutaneously along the margins of the rash once per week for 4 weeks.
Results: Pain levels were evaluated before every treatment, and by his fifth visit, his pain had decreased from 8 to 2 on a 10-point numerical rating scale. He experienced no adverse effects, and this improvement was maintained at the 3-month, 6-month, and 1-year phone follow-up evaluations.
Conclusion: Bee venom treatment demonstrates the potential to become an effective treatment for postherpetic neuralgia. Further large-sample clinical trials should be conducted to evaluate the overall safety and efficacy of this treatment.