Bees Don’t Get Arthritis by Fred Malone, Academy Press
It seems to me that more people come to bee venom therapy through this book than any other way except word of mouth. The title is so catchy that people hear about it, remember it and look it up the next time they are in the library. They give it to friends and loved ones who suffer from arthritis.
Mr. Malone describes his own therapy with bee stings as he takes the reader gallivanting along on his odyssey to travel the USA seeking out reclusive beekeepers who can teach him about bee venom therapy. The book presents their story and his; as such, it does not offer “scientific” proof. Clearly however, many who suffer from arthritis found it convincing enough to seek out beekeepers themselves. It persuades but does riot compel.
The book is fun to read. It is written by a fine storyteller. It begins with Fred learning about bee venom therapy (BV1), being skeptical, and finally trying it for arthritis in his knees. He had a conversation with a friend who described how BVT cured his gout in his thumbs. Let’s listen in on that conversation:
….. “ after a couple of days of this (pain)
Gladys said why didn’t I go over and see Charlie Mraz the beekeeper.” (in Middlebury Vermont).
“Yes, beekeeper. Well I figured what the hell – the doctors aren’t doing anything for me. I might as well give Charlie a shot at it. So I went over and got a couple of stings in each thumb, and by morning the gout was gone and I’ve never been troubled again.”
I smiled, for I had gone to college, read Time compulsively, and seen all the Dr. Kildare movies. “Don’t smile,” Ray said. “There are hundreds of people in this area who have been cured of arthritis by Charlie and Iris bees.” Fred forgot about this story until years later when he became incapacitated with arthritis in his knees. Then he remembered and drove to Vermont where he met Charlie Mraz, put the “bees on the knees” and set out to spread the good news by writing this book.
Fred noted “facts” in his book and ventured interpretations that the reader is left to ponder. For example, he discovered that beekeepers have the lowest incidence of cancer of any professional cohort group. He lets us chew on that thought. He notes that commercial beekeepers get between 1 and 4 thousand stings a year.
The book is upbeat until we get to the end In Iris Epilogue, Fred writes:
………. It has been seven years since I set the foregoing down on paper…Charlie Mraz, though still spry and helping
scores of arthritics, is eighty and presumably not immortal. And I notice that I am not in the starting line-up as often. In good conscience, and with sadness, I must report that it seems to me that you are less likely to receive injectable bee venom from a doctor now than when I started writing this book in 1977.”
Today, five years after he added the Epilogue, state medical boards who disapprove of Bee venom therapy are harassing medical doctors who offer bee venom. These state medical boards are composed of prominent medical doctors who are critical of bee venom without having read the voluminous scientific literature supporting its use. Conservatism in medicine is very important to insure that we don’t fall back into the snake oil days of the early 1900’s when many patients were given worthless potions. However, Malone’s book provides the initial introduction by a fine storyteller. It is not the whole story. The whole story is not yet told. More money, time and research personnel are needed for that. But the story of bee venom has grown since Malone’s book in 1977. It is a story of precise and verifiable basic science research into the molecular components and the physiological effects of bee venom. It is a story that will be told and I trust will have a more encouraging ending than Mr. Malone’s book;