Apitoxin, or honey bee venom, is a bitter colourless liquid. The active portion of the venom is a complex mixture of proteins, which causes local inflammation and acts as an anticoagulant. The venom is produced in the abdomen of worker bees from a mixture of acidic and basic secretions. Apitoxin is acidic (pH 4.5 to 5.5). A honeybee can inject 0.1 mg of venom via its stinger. Apitoxin may have similarities to sea nettle toxin. It is estimated that 1% of the population is allergic to bee stings.
Bee venom therapy is used by some as a treatment for rheumatism and joint diseases due to its anticoagulant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also used to desensitize people allergic to insect stings. Bee venom therapy can also be delivered in the form of Bee Venom Balm although this may be less potent than using live bee stings. Bee Venom can be found in numerous beauty products. It is believed to increase blood flow therefore plumping the applied area, producing collagen. This effect aids in smoothing out lines and wrinkles.
Components of Apitoxin
- Apamin increases cortisol production in the adrenal gland. Apamin is a mild neurotoxin.
- Adolapin, comprising 2–5% of the peptides, acts as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic because it blocks cyclooxygenase.
- Phospholipase A2 amounts to 10–12% of peptides and it is the most destructive component of apitoxin. It is an enzyme which degrades the phospholipids which cellular membranes are made of. It also causes decreased blood pressure and inhibits blood coagulation. Phospholipase A2 activates arachidonic acid which is metabolized in the cyclooxygenase-cycle to form prostaglandins. Prostaglandins regulate the body's inflammatory response. The toxin from wasps contains phospholipase A1.
- Hyaluronidase comprising 1–3% of peptides dilates the capillaries causing the spread of inflammation.
- Histamine comprising 0.5–2% and is involved in the allergic response.
- Dopamine and noradrenaline which comprise 1–2% increase pulse rate.
- Protease-inhibitors comprise 2% and act as anti-inflammatory agents and stop bleeding.
- Tertiapin is also a component in bee venom.