The Buzz on Bee Venom

While many of us, myself included, may be sad to say goodbye to summer, at least the cooler temperatures should mean fewer biting and stinging insects.  And while that’s good news for people, myself included, who seem to attract and be bitten by every venomous bug out there, there are some people, it seems, who just can’t get enough.

At least when it comes to bees. Thanks, in part, to HRH the Duchess of Cambridge, aka Kate Middleton, everyone’s buzzing about bee venom.  It’s being touted as the latest magic ingredient and can be found in an increasing number of skin creams, lip-plumping potions and face masks.

People are calling bee venom a “natural Botox” thanks to its ability to stimulate collagen production and elastin to smooth, lift and tighten skin. Venom also contains a compound called melittin, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Which led SRxA’s Word on Health to wonder if it works.  Turns out that much of the clinical research into bee venom has focused on its effect s in patients with cancer and arthritis. Studies of its use in skin-care have been limited.

When applied to the skin bee venom causes tingling but has no lasting effect.

I couldn’t find any legitimate scientific studies of the benefit of bee venom either topical or injected,” says David Leffell MD, a professor of Dermatology and Surgery at Yale School of Medicine.

He is skeptical of the extent that bee venom could smooth or tighten skin. There is evidence, however, that the honey also in many of the products could be beneficial as a moisturizer, he says.

But given that one gram of venom costs about $304 – more than eight times the current value of gold, that’s a lot of money for a moisturizer!

And good news for beekeepers, many of whom are able to add this lucrative sideline to their established honey businesses. Salons and spas are also boarding the bee bandwagon and charging over $100 for 30 minute bee-venom facials.

Have you, or would you try bee venom over botox?  Buzz us with your comments.

Botox, Brotox & Bladders

When someone mentions Botox injections, you probably think of Hollywood actresses with too perfect faces or wealthy housewives desperately trying to turn back time. Yes, we know it’s becoming more main stream, so maybe you’re also thinking about your own appointment for “shots” or maybe even “BroTox”. What we’re pretty sure you’re not thinking about is – incontinence. However, that’s exactly its newest use. Recently, the FDA approved using the injections to help patients with neurological conditions (such as multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury) who suffer from either incontinence, or an overactive bladder. Neurologic conditions can cause miscommunication between the bladder and the brain.  As a result, the bladder muscle can become overactive, increasing the pressure in the bladder and decreasing the volume of urine the bladder can hold. This can lead to frequent, unexpected urine leakage, or urinary incontinence. Botox works by paralyzing bladder muscles, thus preventing the contractions that cause urgency or leakage. Although medications and behavioral modifications are treatment options, many patients, especially the elderly, do not respond to these methods and need a more aggressive approach. “About 80 percent of patients with neurological conditions, such as spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, see improvement after about a week, and the results can last four to nine months,” says Charles Nager, MD, co-director of the UC San Diego Women’s Pelvic Medicine Center at UC San Diego Health System. Incontinence is the seventh condition, including chronic migraines, upper limb spasticity and underarm sweating, that Botox has been approved to treat since it first arrived on the market in 2002. The outpatient procedure uses a local numbing gel, followed by 15 -20 injections in different areas of the bladder muscle. “It can really be life changing for someone with severe incontinence issues,” said Nager. Want to share your Botox stories with SRxA’s Word on Health?  We’d love to hear from you.

Something to Smile about

SRxA‘s Word on Health broke out a wrinkle-free smile at the news that Allergan’s Botox sales have increased 5.6% over the last quarter.  Sales of the popular cosmetic injections have been declining during the past few quarters mainly due to weak consumer spending and increased competition.

Going forward,  Allergan is looking to grow Botox sales further by gaining approval for additional indications. The company has recently filed for FDA approval of Botox for the treatment of chronic migraine.

SRxA‘s Word on Health hopes this news not only relieves headaches but also  heralds an  upturn in the economy.