Post Herpatic Neuralgia – hell on nerves

Post Herpatic Neuralgia (PHN) is one of the most painful ailments which can happen to patients and I am pleased to remind our colleagues that honeybee venom therapy (BVT), applied topically at the site of the lesion, has a long history in clinical practice for reducing pain and preventing recurrence. I first learned this remedy in 1980 from Charlie Mraz, a beekeeper in Middlebury, Vermont.

Typically, the earlier the application in the disease process, the better, but I have had complete resolution with cases who came to me years after onset of illness.  We use BVT in the context of a corrective health approach – consideration of diet (low arginine, high lysine) , targeted nutritional supplements (selenium, zinc, NAC) as well as lifestyle strategies (low stress, attaining good deep sleep, etc.) Mechanism of action has been investigated (see below)

My  great friend Andrew Kochan has published an excellent study using BVT for PHN:

In addition, bear in mind the words attributed to Hippocrates – but probably initially spoken by Parmenides (500 BC):    
“Give me the power to create a fever and I will cure all illnesses.”

No one will be surprised to learn that applying 3-8 stings on a PHN lesion indeed creates a fever!

Honey bee venom ointment preparations (example: Forapin from Germany) have not been helpful.

People interested in learning BVT are welcome to email me at

Topical DMSO laced with trace minerals and nutrients (zinc, vit A, selenium, vit E) can be helpful.

Raw honey is excellent for herpes simplex outbreaks initially;  raw honey out performed topical zovirax in a head to head study:
See: Topical Honey Application vs. Acyclovir for the Treatment of Recurrent Herpes Simplex Lesions. Med Sci Monit, 2004; 10 (8) Al Waili, N.S. Dubai UAE

“For labial herpes, the mean duration of attacks and pain, occurrence of crusting, and mean healing time with honey treatment were 35%, 39%, 28% and 43% better, respectively, than with acyclovir treatment.

For genital herpes, the mean duration of attacks and pain, occurrence of crusting, and mean healing time with honey treatment were 53%, 50%, 49%  and 59% better,  respectively than with acyclovir treatment.”

“Topical honey application is safe and effective in the management of the signs and symptoms of recurrent lesions from labial and genital herpes.”

SO…. Why haven’t you heard about using raw honey or bee venom?
It is not patentable and therefore, not profitable!

Comparative Costs
Acyclovir     $3,810.00 / pound
Raw Honey     $10.00 / pound


Bradford S. Weeks. M.D.


Reg Anesth Pain Med. 2007 Nov-Dec;32(6):533-5.

Bee stings–a remedy for postherpetic neuralgia? A case report.

Janik JE, Wania-Galicia L, Kalauokalani D.

Department of Anesthesiology and Pain, University of California Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, CA, USA.


OBJECTIVE: This case report describes the effects of bee stings on painful postherpetic neuralgia in a 51-year-old man. CASE REPORT: The patient was stung by 3 bees in the distribution in which he had been experiencing postherpetic neuralgia. One day after the bee stings, the patient’s painful postherpetic neuralgia was completely relieved, and the relief lasted for 1 and a half months. Subsequently, the patient’s pain returned, but at significantly less intensity and frequency than what he had experienced prior to the bee stings. CONCLUSIONS: Bee venom and bee sting therapy have been shown to have both antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory properties, which may explain why the bee stings relieved the patient’s postherpetic neuralgia. Bee sting or bee venom therapy should be further investigated as a potential treatment modality for postherpetic neuralgia.


Peptides. 1997;18(2):177-83.

An amphipathic alpha-helical synthetic peptide analogue of melittin inhibits herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1)-induced cell fusion and virus spread.

Baghian A, Jaynes J, Enright F, Kousoulas KG.

Department of Veterinary Microbiology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge 70803, USA.


The effects of hecate, a 23-amino acid synthetic peptide analogue of melittin, on HSV-1-induced cell fusion and virus multiplication was investigated. Hecate completely inhibited cell fusion induced by HSV-1 syncytial (syn) mutants HSV-1 HFEM (tsB5) and HSV-1 mp (MP) at a concentration of 5.0 microM. Metabolic labeling experiments indicated that hecate did not adversely affect cellular growth and protein synthesis. The synthesis of virus-specified glycoproteins B, C, D, and H was reduced in the presence of hecate; however, the transport of these glycoproteins to the surface of infected cells was not affected. Production of infectious virions for wild-type and syn mutants tsB5 and MP was reduced in the presence of hecate. The effect of hecate on virus titer was dependent on the multiplicity of infection. Virus titers were reduced 2-28-fold at an M.O.I. of 0.1, 3-6-fold at an M.O.I. of 0.5, and 0-2.5-fold at an M.O.I. of 2.5. Direct treatment of semipurified virions with hecate reduced titers by approximately 4-fold for KOS, 2-fold for tsB5, and over 30-fold for MP.


Virology. 1993 Oct;196(2):548-56.

Role of the Na+,K+ pump in herpes simplex type 1-induced cell fusion: melittin causes specific reversion of syncytial mutants with the syn1 mutation to Syn+ (wild-type) phenotype.

Baghian A, Kousoulas KG.

Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Parasitology, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge 70803.


To evaluate the importance of the Na+,K+ pump and ionic gradients in virus-induced cell fusion, we investigated the effects of melittin, a 26 amino acid bioactive peptide found in honey bee venom, on cell fusion caused by HSV-1 syncytial mutants. Melittin inhibited fusion of Vero cells caused by HSV-1 mutant viruses mP(MP), KOS (syn20) and KOS (FFV3) containing the syncytial mutation syn1 in glycoprotein K. However, it did not affect cell fusion caused by mutants HFEM(tsB5) or KOS amb1511-7 with mutations in glycoprotein B. Melittin caused specific reversion of syn1 mutant virus plaques to syn+ (wild-type) plaque morphology, and inhibited virus adsorption and penetration. It also inhibited the Na+,K+ pump activity, and the binding of 3H-ouabain to the Na+,K+ pump of infected Vero cells. The Na+,K+ pump activity of infected Vero cells in comparison to mock-infected cells was significantly decreased. Ouabain, a specific inhibitor of the Na+,K+ pump, inhibited fusion of Vero cells caused by all syncytial virus strains.

In addition,  my friend Andrew Kochan has published on this treatment modality:

Successful treatment of pain in post-herpetic nueuralgia with the venom of Apis Mellifera

Presented at the third International Varicella Zoster Research Foundation meeting March 2001
by Andrew Kochan, MD

Post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) is the pain that persists for more than four months following the onset of the rash associated with a herpes zoster (shingles) outbreak. PHN pain is generally characterized by severe unrelenting pain described by patients as either deep aching, burning, sharp, jabbing, electrical, lancinating or a combination of these. Frequently allodynia is a disabling sign. The longer the pain persists the longer it is likely to continue, and many of these elderly patients die with their pain never resolving. The current treatment of post-herpetic neuralgia is unsatisfactory to most sufferers and strictly palliative in nature. These treatments involve tedious repetitive procedures or the taking of medications that may have serious side effects. None of these interventions alter the natural history of the condition. They just decrease the symptoms until spontaneous resolution occurs – if it resolves at all.

Treating pain with the venom of the European honeybee, Apis mellifera, dates back several thousand years. Hippocrates and Celsus documented the use of bee venom as a medical treatment. The most frequent use of bee venom today is the treatment of inflammatory arthritis. There are over 20 biologically active peptides in Apis mellifera venom, some of which are anti-inflammatory and others neurotoxic in nature. Animal studies confirm the anti-inflammatory properties of bee venom and it=s ability to suppress adjuvant induced arthritis.

Fourteen PHN patients (average age 72) who suffered pain for an average of 46.1 months (range 5 to 131) were injected at multiple sites (range 3 to 30) with 100 micrograms of dried bee venom in 0.1 cc of 0.5% lidocaine. These sites corresponded to the location of the greatest pain, origins of shooting pain and to areas of cutaneous scarring. The median interval between the first and second visit was three days. Subsequent visits were four days apart. Patients received an average of 14 treatments over a period of 11.7 ” 5.4 weeks.

The mean Visual Analog Scale (VAS) pain score at the beginning of treatment was 7.6 ” 0.39 and at the end was 2.1 ” 1.1, representing a mean decrease of 5.5 ” 1.1 (p < 0.001). As a group there was a significant decrease in VAS score (p<0.02) after the first treatment. Patients noted a significant decrease in the stabbing component of their pain within two treatments (p<0.01). They also reported a significant decrease in allodynia after one treatment (p<0.02). The difference of the VAS score at the fifth visit and the end of treatment was not significant; thus, in most cases, full benefit was achieved following the fourth treatment. At follow-up, which averaged 21 months from completion of treatment, the group had a mean VAS score of 2.6 ” 1.6, with 4 of the patients pain-free. Initially, 6 patients were taking antidepressants and 4 were taking opioids. By the end of treatment, all 6 patients stopped antidepressants and 3 stopped opioids. Sleep quality improved significantly from the beginning to the end of treatment and continued to be good at follow-up (p<0.001). Most patients reported sleeping better after the first treatment.

The results of treatment in these patients suggest that one or more components of honeybee venom are able to decrease the pain of PHN within four treatments on the average by more than 70%, and in some cases completely. These results are maintained long-term. Treatment with bee venom caused positive changes and gave these patients a significantly better quality of life.

Related Links

The following are links to various published papers and organizations of interest:

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