"Retired dentist uses bee venom as therapy"
[I have studied apitherapy with Dr. Ed and he is a wonderful teacher, and a very good man. I am pleased to see his work receiving this recognition: his is an amazing story.--Pleasant Lane Apiary]
by Tatiana Pina
Journal Staff Writer
Saturday, May 30, 2009
PROVIDENCE - On the second floor of his Tabor Avenue home, Dr. Edward Ziegler Jr. sits at his kitchen table concentrating on a glass jar that seems to be humming.
Lawrence Knowles, 70, a Providence man with a shock of thick white hair, sits next to him with his left arm outstretched, awaiting relief from osteoarthritis, which pains his hands and makes them stiff.
The 91-year-old retired dentist opens the jar slightly and grabs a woman's metal hair clip off the table. With all deftness of a man half his age he dips the hair clip into jar and plucks out a honey bee.
He presses the bee's rump to Knowles' wrist until it digs its stinger into him.
It hurts but Knowles says the venom from the bee helps alleviate his arthritis. Knowles, an adjunct faculty member at Bryant University, says it takes about three treatments before he starts to feel better. He's been coming to Ziegler for six years. "He wants to beat me at squash," Ziegler teases.
"The bee sting doesn't cure a thing," he declares. "It enhances the activity of the immune system."
Ziegler has been practicing bee venom therapy for 30 years. He keeps adrenaline in the refrigerator in case someone has an allergic reaction. He invites people suffering from arthritis, multiple sclerosis and other ailments to his kitchen for treatment Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12 to 1 p.m. It's free, although he doesn't mind the kisses from grateful women who have been helped by the treatment.
The Arthritis Foundation puts out a guide on alternative treatments for arthritis that lists bee venom therapy, saying it's used as an anti-inflammatory for conditions such tendonitis, bursitis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. The guide says a study of mice with induced arthritis showed that after eight weeks of bee venom injections the incidence of arthritis was significantly lower than in the control group. The guide also says bee stings can hurt and may not work. It suggests that if the patient sees no improvement after eight sessions and a total of 20 to 70 bee stings or injections, it's probably not going to work.
Ziegler says he scoffed when a colleague suggested bee venom therapy over 30 years ago. But he decided to try it when his feet hurt so much from rheumatoid arthritis that he could barely walk. He wasn't about to miss out on the things he loved to do like riding a motorcycle, deer hunting or flying a plane. He stings himself 21 times every other day. He keeps five hives in his back yard.
Ziegler estimates that in his lifetime his bees have stung 7,000 people. "I would be a cripple if it weren't for the bees. I had no choice but to help other people."