Apiterapia - medycyna przyszłości?

Apitherapy - medicine of the future?

Statistics show that Poles consume the most medicines and dietary supplements compared to other nationalities. Apitherapy - treatment with honey and other products from the bee hive - is increasingly becoming the focus of their attention. This phenomenon can be understood as an expression of the search for effective methods of treatment and health prevention based on centuries-old traditions. However, most supplements available in pharmacies do not have the status of a drug, which is due to the lack of sufficient scientific research confirming their effectiveness. This fact calls into question the real value of these products. In our article, we will try to present the effects of the work of laboratories and medical units around the world dealing with honey and its derivatives in order to find the answer to the question: will apitherapy become the medicine of the future?


In recent years, we have seen an increase in interest in natural and holistic treatment methods and a generally healthy lifestyle. Apitherapy is perceived as a natural way to improve health and prevent disease, which attracts people looking for alternative solutions to traditional medicine. People are becoming more aware of the impact of diet and environment on their health. Apitherapy uses bee products, which are rich in nutrients and contribute to the good functioning and immunity of the body. Moreover, patients are increasingly concerned about the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs and are looking for more natural alternatives. Tea with honey at home is becoming an increasingly popular antidote to stress or colds.
Although apitherapy is a field that still needs further research, there are results indicating its beneficial effects in various areas, such as wound healing, alleviating the symptoms of allergies and infections, and reducing inflammation. This influences the growing interest in natural medicine. The recent pandemic and the general health crisis have also contributed to this, encouraging people to look for alternative ways to strengthen their immune system.
Apitherapy is also finding more and more supporters in the world of science. One of its pioneers was prof. Ryszard Czarnecki, referred to as the "father of apitherapy". His work and research on the use of bee products in medicine contributed to the development of this field in our country.

Professor Ryszard Czarnecki - the father of Polish apitherapy

Prof. Ph.D. n. farm Ryszard Czarnecki was an undisputed authority and world-class expert on bee products (honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly, etc.), as well as a persistent popularizer of their preventive and medicinal values.
From the very beginning of his scientific career, he was associated with the Department of Pharmacodynamics, which was initially part of the Medical University of Krakow, later incorporated into the structures of the Collegium Medicum of the Jagiellonian University. Prof. Czarnecki has headed the department since 1989. As part of his activities, he founded the Laboratory of Initial Pharmacological Research, which he ran from 1981 to 1995. In the years 1987-1990, he also held the position of the Rector's Plenipotentiary for Apitherapy.
The professor's scientific activity was the result of his passion for research, which made him quickly become a valued authority in his field. "His extensive knowledge, scientific commitment and charismatic personality attracted crowds to his lectures, to which he conveyed his love for bees with passion in a way that was understandable not only to specialists" - this is what the monthly " Pszczelarstwo " wrote about him.
Beekeepers loved the Professor for his great commitment to work and for his willingness to share his experience and knowledge.
Professor Ryszard Czarnecki has accumulated significant scientific achievements, including over 56 original publications in Polish and foreign journals and many books. Additionally, he developed recipes for medicines and medicinal preparations using bee products. He wrote this in the preface to one of his books: "For many years, driven by the belief in the need to disseminate knowledge about apitherapy, I have tried to convey to my colleagues and listeners the enthusiasm to learn the secrets of bee products. For a long, too long time, apitherapy has been treated as a poor relative of pharmacotherapy. Fortunately, in recent years we have witnessed an increase in interest in bee products and their potential medicinal possibilities.



Nowadays, research on natural products to prevent or treat many diseases has gained importance. Interest in bee products and apitherapy has also increased. In many countries it is already part of complementary and integrative medicine. In addition, the consumption of bee products as nutraceuticals and dietary supplements has increased. Therefore, research on their pharmacological activity has increased, revealing numerous biological properties. In vitro and in vivo studies, as well as clinical trials, have shown that bee products may be indicated in the treatment of various diseases and maintaining health balance and homeostasis.
The growing interest in the world of science in apitherapy is documented in the table below.

Number of published works related to the biological activity of bee products

Bee product

Number of manuscripts

In vitro tests

In vivo tests

Clinical tests











Bee's venom





Bee pollen





Bee's milk










Source: WA Weis et al.: An overview about apitherapy and its clinical applications, Phytomedicine Plus , Volume 2, Issue 2, May 2022, 100239

Honey - a drug with versatile effects

Honey ingredients and their biological activity

Honey is a rich source of nutrients and biologically active substances, which translates into its healing potential. Here are some of the key ingredients:

  • Sugars , including glucose and fructose. They provide the body with energy.
  • Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, flavonoids, polyphenols and minerals (e.g. copper and selenium) that help fight free radicals and prevent oxidative stress.
  • Enzymes , e.g. oxidase and catalase, which contribute to the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide and prevent its accumulation in the body.
  • Amino acids help in the process of tissue regeneration and the construction of proteins in the body.
  • Vitamins and minerals supporting the functions of the body and immune system.
  • Flavonoids with antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory potential.
  • Peptides and proteins with antibacterial and antiviral properties.
  • Organic acids , such as lactic acid and formic acid, inhibit the activity of microorganisms and the action of viruses.


Amount in 100 g of honey


Amount in 100 g of honey

Ascorbic acid

2.2 - 2.4 mg


38.50 g


Invertase, diastase, glucose oxidase


17.10 g


4.40 -9.20 mg


17.10 g


0.003 - 0.10 mg


7.20 g


0.06 - 1.50 mg


1.50 g


1.20 - 3.50 g


< 0.006 mg


1.90 - 6.30 mg


< 0.06 g


13.20 - 169.00 mg


< 0.036


0.00 - 7.60 mg

Pantothenic acid

< 0.11 mg


0.03 - 0.40 mg


< 0.32 g

Research on the healing effects of honey

Scientific research is the basis for confirming the medicinal properties of honey. Over the past few decades, numerous laboratory, clinical and experimental studies have been conducted to further explore the benefits of honey for human health. Here are some of the more important findings:

  • Antibacterial activities. One of the key achievements of honey research is the demonstration of its ability to inhibit the growth and reproduction of bacteria. Thanks to this property, it has great potential in the treatment of bacterial infections ( see ).
  • Anti-inflammatory effect. Honey has anti-inflammatory properties. This property is influenced by ingredients such as flavonoids and polyphenols ( see ).
  • Treatment of cough and sore throat. This most important bee product is often used as a home remedy for treating coughs and sore throats. Research confirms its effectiveness in alleviating these ailments, especially in children. The safety of using honey in the youngest patients under one year of age has been confirmed. This is important because some antitussive medications are not recommended for them ( see ).
  • Antiviral effect. Honey contains several ingredients that have antiviral potential, including: flavonoids, peptides and proteins, organic acids and vitamins and minerals. Laboratory studies have shown that honey can inhibit the multiplication of many types of viruses, including influenza viruses, herpes viruses and HIV. Intensive research is also being carried out on the use of honey in the fight against COVID-2 ( see ).
  • Wound healing. Honey has long been used in traditional medicine to treat burns and skin wounds. This is due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Honey is widely used to treat burns, ulcers and skin wounds. In many cases, it is used in the form of honey dressings, which are placed on the wound and changed regularly. Clinical trials have confirmed the effectiveness of these therapies and have shown that honey can speed up the healing process ( see ).
        The table below presents the results of research on the effectiveness of honey use in three sample clinical areas.

        Clinical trials with honey: main approaches, types of interventions and main results.



        Main results

        Diabetic foot ulcer

        Honey solution 120 days

        increase in treatment effectiveness

        Healing of postoperative eyelid wounds

        Manuka honey twice a day for 6 weeks

        a decrease in the tendency to deform the skin, the scar is less tangible

        Cardiovascular parameters and anthropometric measurements in postmenopausal women

        Tualang honey 20 g/day
        Honey cocktail 20 g/day
        6 and 12 months

        decrease in diastolic blood pressure
        drop in fasting blood sugar levels

        Source: WA Weis et al.: An overview about apitherapy and its clinical applications, Phytomedicine Plus , Volume 2, Issue 2, May 2022, 100239

        Scientific research confirms the many health benefits of honey. The results prove its effectiveness in treating infections, relieving inflammation, treating cough and sore throat, antiviral effect and supporting wound healing. It is possible to demonstrate an even wider range of therapeutic activities and develop new therapies based on bee honey.

        Bee venom - a solution to pain and neurological disorders

        Bee venom (apitoxin) is secreted by a gland located in the bee's abdominal cavity. It is an odorless and transparent acidic liquid that bees often use as a defense tool against predators. Bee venom is a combination of various compounds. According to scientific publications, the venom contains several active molecules such as peptides and enzymes, including melittin (the main component of bee venom), apamin, adolapine, mast cell degranulating peptide and enzymes (phospholipase A2 and hyaluronidase), as well as peptide components such as histamine, dopamine and norepinephrine. The main components are melittin, which constitutes about 50 percent of the dry venom, and phospholipase A2 (PLA2) - about 12 percent.

        In classical medicine, bee venom and bee toxins are used to treat chronic inflammatory diseases because they have anti-arthritic, anti-cancer and analgesic effects. In sting therapy, honey bees go directly to the target site through the sting, while in freeze-dried bee venom therapy, it is injected directly in various doses in situ. Bee venom injection has the ability to treat various diseases such as:

        • autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, etc.),
        • neurological disorders and pain,
        • chronic inflammation,
        • skin diseases and bacterial infections.

          Some studies confirm the positive effects of bee venom

          The most famous experiments with bee venom therapy took place in Russian clinical hospitals. The table below shows the results of the experience of Dr. Krylov and his colleagues in the use of bee venom therapy in the treatment of multiple sclerosis at the Chelyabinsk Multiple Sclerosis Center in Russia.

          Bee venom therapy experiment in patients with multiple sclerosis

          Degree of reaction

          Number of patients

          Total improvement (%)

          Arrest of demyelination (%)

          Remyelination (%)
















          Source: Krylov V., Agafonov A., Kriftsov N., Lebedev V., Burimistrova L., Oshevenski L., Sokolski S. Theory and means of apitherapy. Russian Center in Chelyabinsk; Moscow, Russia: 2007.

          The Russian apitherapist, Dr. Ludyanski, treated various ailments using bee venom. The statistics of these therapies are given below.

          Experiences with bee venom in the treatment of various ailments Vologda (Russia)

          Number of patients:

          with very good improvement

          with good improvement

          no improvement


          Bronchial asthma




          Multiple sclerosis












          Trigeminal neuralgia




          Post-stroke paralysis
















          Inflammation of the ganglionic nerve




          Inflammation of the facial nerve




          Cerebellar ataxia








          Trigeminal neuralgia




          Post-traumatic plexus neuritis








          Source: Ludyanski EA: Apiterapia. Poligrafista: Vologda, Russia, 1994. p. 460.

          Clinical trials are also carried out in the United States. The next table shows the results of therapy for Dr. WA Weis' syndrome.

          Clinical trials with bee venom: approaches, types of interventions and main results.



          Main results

          Chronic low back pain

          Injection of 0.1 ml/point twice a week for 4 weeks

          decrease in chronic low back pain

          Recalcitrant localized plaque psoriasis (RLPP)

          Injection of 0.05 to 0.1 ml of commercially available BV (Epivac®) once a week for 3 months

          RLPP decline
          decrease in TNF-α

          Parkinson's disease (PD)

          0.1 ml diluted to 0.005% twice a week for 12 weeks

          increase walking speed
          increase in the Parkinson's disease quality of life questionnaire
          increase in motor symptoms

          Source: Weis WA et al.: An overview about apitherapy and its clinical applications, Phytomedicine Plus , Volume 2, Issue 2, May 2022, 100239

          Conclusions and future prospects

          Bee venom and its components have a wide spectrum of biological and pharmacological effects. It has been clinically tested by apitherapists for the treatment of certain diseases. It has also been licensed for use in human therapy in many countries and is currently available on the market in various forms.

          Royal jelly - regeneration and immunity

          Activity of ingredients

          Royal jelly is a secretion of honey bees that is used to feed bee larvae for the first three days and queen bees throughout their lives. It contains many bioactive substances such as royalisin, main proteins and 10-hydroxy-2-decenoic acid. Recently, many studies have been published on the effects of royal jelly. It has been found to have the following therapeutic effects:

          • Supporting regenerative processes. Royal jelly is known for stimulating cell regeneration processes. Studies have found that royal jelly ingredients, such as 10-HDA, influence cell growth and accelerate wound healing.
          • Supporting the immune system. Research suggests that royal jelly may support the immune system by increasing the number of T cells and activating macrophages. This increases the body's ability to fight infections and diseases.
          • Anti-inflammatory effect. The ingredients of royal jelly inhibit inflammatory processes in the body, which brings benefits in the case of, for example, rheumatoid arthritis.
          • Supporting the nervous system. Royal jelly may have a beneficial effect on the nervous system through its neuroprotective effect. Research shows that it can help reduce symptoms of stress and improve cognitive functions.
          • Anti-cancer potential. Laboratory studies suggest that royal jelly has anti-cancer potential by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells and inducing apoptosis. These activities are strongly interconnected and cannot be assessed separately. Scientists say that royal jelly may be an excellent therapeutic agent, especially in the treatment of cancer and metabolic syndrome.


          Composition of royal jelly

          The content of royal jelly is shown in the table below.

          Composition of fresh and freeze-dried royal jelly.


          Fresh milk


          Water (g/ 100 g)



          Lipids (g/ 100 g)



          10-HDA (g/ 100 g)



          Protein (g/ 100 g)

          9 a.m.–6 p.m


          Fructose (g/ 100 g)


          Glucose (g/ 100 g)


          Sucrose (g/ 100 g)


          Ash (g/ 100 g)






          Acidity (ml 0.1 N NaOH/g)


          Furosine (mg/100 g protein)


          Source: Ramadan M. , Al-Ghamdi A.: Bioactive compounds and health-promoting properties of royal jelly, Journal of Functional Foods , Volume 4, Issue 1 , January 2012, Pages 39-52.

          Results of research on the effects of bioactive compounds in royal jelly

          Royal jelly is a fascinating beekeeping product that has many potential medicinal properties. Although there is promising evidence of its effectiveness in various fields of medicine, it still requires further clinical research to precisely determine its potential for use in medical practice. Research to date suggests that royal jelly may be a valuable medicinal source. As an example, we present a table containing the documented effects of individual bioactive compounds of this bee product.


          Effect of bioactive compounds in royal jelly - animal study

          Bioactive compounds

          Biological effects

          MRJP1 oligomer

          Immunity to enteritis

          MRJP 2 and its X1 isomer

          Anti-cancer effect


          Immunoregulatory effect


          It improves the ability of spatial memory by influencing.

          Lifespan extension by increasing antioxidant activity and the epidermal growth factor receptor signaling pathway.

          Jellies I-III

          Antibacterial - inhibits the action of yeast, Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria.


          Antibacterial - inhibits Gram-positive bacteria by damaging cell walls and cell membranes.

          Apolipophorin III-like protein

          Immunoregulatory effect.


          Immunoregulatory effect.

          Antibacterial - suppresses Paenibacillus larvae, pathogens specific to animals and humans.


          Antidiabetic effect.

          Resistance to intestinal inflammation.
          Anticancer effect - reduces the level of TRP1, TRP2 and MITF in B16F1 melanoma cells, inhibits melanin production.

          HPO-DAEE (10-HDA derivative)

          Anticancer effect - promotes apoptosis of A549 human lung cancer cells via the ROS-ERK-p38 pathway, partially via the CHOP pathway.


          Immunoregulatory effect.


          Prevents intestinal inflammation.

          AMP-N1 oxide and its analogues

          Anticancer effect - promotes axonal growth of PC12 pheochromocytoma cells.

          Source: Guo J. et al: Active components and biological functions of royal jelly, Journal of Functional Foods , Volume 82 , July 2021, 104514.

          Propolis in the fight against bacteria and fungi

          Among natural products rich in bioactive compounds, propolis has proven to be a promising alternative to traditional medicines due to its numerous health-beneficial effects. In vivo and in vitro studies have shown that treatment with propolis can alleviate many symptoms of diseases. Bees collect resin and beeswax from various parts of plants, such as flowers and buds, secretions and tree resins, and then enrich them with saliva. Accordingly, propolis has been found to contain over 500 compounds, including flavonoids, phenolic compounds, polyphenols, terpenes, terpenoids, coumarins, steroids, amino acids and various aromatic compounds. In addition, it is rich in phytochemicals including essential oils, vitamins (A, B, C and E complexes) and important minerals such as aluminum, sodium, potassium, calcium, copper, magnesium, iron and zinc, which also play an important role in our biological activity. A broader list of bioactive compounds can be found in the table below.


          Chemical composition of propolis and its bioactive compounds.

          Chemical compounds

          Bioactive compounds

          Aromatic acids

          Benzoic acids, caffeic acid, cinnamic acid, coumaric acid, ferulic acid and gallic acid


          Glycerol, erythritol, α-cedrol, xylitol


          Caffeic acid phenethyl ester, 2-propenoic acid methyl ester, 4,3-acetyloxycaffeate, 3,4 dimethoxytrimethylsilyl esters and 3-methoxy-4-cinnamate

          Fatty and aliphatic acids

          Isoferulic acid, glutamic acid, phosphoric acid, malic acid, tartaric acid, propanoic acid, butanedioic acid and stearic acid


          Apigenin, acacetin, chrysin, galangin, genistein, hesperetin, kaempferol, kaemferide, luteolin, naringenin, pinobanksin, pinocembrin, quercetin and tetrochrysin


          Aluminum (Al), copper (Cu), magnesium (Mg), zinc (Zn), silicon (Si), tin (Sn), manganese (Mn), nickel (Ni) and chromium (Cr)


          d-Altrose, d-glucose, maltose and d-fructose


          Vitamin A (retinol), vitamin B 1 (thiamine), vitamin B 2 (riboflavin), vitamin B 3 (nicotinamide), vitamin B 6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B 9 (folic acid), vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and vitamin E (tocopherol)


          Butane, cyclohexane, cyclopentene and guanidine

          Source: Zullkiflee N. et al.: Propolis: Its Role and Efficacy in Human Health and Diseases, Molecules, 2022 Sep; 27(18), 6120.

          Known medicinal properties of propolis

          • Antibacterial effect. Propolis is known for its strong antibacterial effect. Studies have shown that this substance can inhibit the growth of bacteria, including those resistant to antibiotics. It works primarily by inhibiting the growth of bacterial cell membranes.
          • Antifungal effect. Propolis may be effective in the fight against fungal infections, e.g. candidiasis and nail fungus. Substances contained in propolis, such as caffeic acid and ferulic acid, are responsible for these properties.
          • Antiviral effect. Research suggests that propolis has antiviral effects by inhibiting viral replication. It may be effective in treating viral infections, including herpes and flu.
          • Anti-inflammatory effect. Propolis has anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it useful for sore throats and gum diseases.
          • Supporting wound healing. Propolis can accelerate the wound healing process. It stimulates the regeneration processes of skin cells and tissues.
          There are many more mentioned properties. Most of them were discovered during scientific research on this substance. In the table you will find the active ingredients of propolis and their effects on the human body.


          Active ingredients of propolis and their effect on various ailments and diseases.

          Active ingredients of propolis

          Type of diseases


          Apigenin, chrysin, galangin, genistein, kaempferol, luteolin, naringin, pinocembrin and quercetin

          Diabetes (type 2)

          Lowers blood glucose levels

          Reduces serum glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c)

          Reduces insulin levels

          Removes free radicals and chelates metals

          Apigenin, caffeic acid, CAPE, galangin, hesperidin and

          Rheumatoid arthritis

          Reduces inflammation

          It inhibits DNA synthesis and the production of inflammatory cytokines

          Inhibits NF-κB activation

          Reduces TNF-α mRNA levels

          Apigenin, artepillin C, caffeic acid, CAPE, chrysin, galangin, kaempferol, luteolin, myricetin, pinocembrin and quercetin

          Breast cancer

          Colon cancer

          Liver cancer

          Lung cancer

          Pancreatic cancer

          Prevents cell proliferation

          Inhibits angiogenesis of cancer cells

          Stimulates apoptosis

          Selective toxic properties towards cancer cells

          Effects of apoptosis

          CAPE, chrysin, kaempferide, luteolin, pinocembrin, pinostrobin and quercetin




          Ischemia-reperfusion injury

          Reduces cyclooxygenase activity

          Removes reactive oxygen species (ROS)

          Stimulates the production of nitric oxide (NO).

          Artepillin C, CAPE, coumaric acid, galangin, kaemferide, 4-methyl ester and aromatendrin

          Gastric ulcer

          Peptic ulcer


          Inflammation of the mucous membrane. oral cavity

          Inflammation of the stomach and large intestine

          Ulcers inflammation of the mucous membrane

          Protects against stomach ulcers

          Improves the intestinal barrier

          It prevents pathogens, toxins and bacteria from moving from the intestines to the blood

          Reduces damage to the large intestine

          It inhibits colitis

          Apigenin, CAPE, chrysin, kaempferol, pinocembrin and quercetin

          Alzheimer's disease

          Parkinson's disease



          It inhibits the production of NO in microglia

          Neuroprotection against ischemia/reperfusion injury

          Prevent inflammatory stress

          Blocks NF-κB activation in microglia

          Neuroprotection against apoptosis and oxidation

          Increases memory impairment by inhibiting oxidative damage

          It inhibits the formation of ROS

          Artepillin C, bacharin, CAPE, chrysin, galangin, kaempferide, kaempferol, naringenin, pinocembrin, benzyl caffeate, geranyl caffeate and 3-methyl-2-butenyl caffeate


          It inhibits the degranulation of mast cells

          It inhibits inflammation caused by allergens

          It inhibits the production of ROS

          It blocks expression in the macrophage cell line

          It has anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties

          Caffeic acid, CAPE, cinnamic acid, aromatendendrin, N-acetylcysteine, p-coumaric acid,

          Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

          Prevents acute pneumonia

          Reduces stomatitis and infections

          Reduces pro-inflammatory cytokines

          Source: Zullkiflee N. et al.: Propolis: Its Role and Efficacy in Human Health and Diseases, Molecules, 2022 Sep; 27(18), 6120.

          The future of propolis

          Propolis is a natural substance derived from the bee hive that has many potential medicinal properties. Scientific research suggests that propolis may be effective in the fight against bacteria, mycoses, viruses and inflammation. However, there are still some uncertainties related to the dosage and standardization of this product. Therefore, further clinical studies are necessary to precisely determine its use in medical practice.


          Apitherapy using bee products has a long history of use in folk medicine. It can be expected to enjoy increasing popularity in the near future. Here are some directions in which it can develop:
          • Scientific research . More and more scientific research focuses on confirming the effectiveness and safety of apitherapy. As research progresses, we will have a better understanding of how bee products affect health and how they can be used effectively in medicine.
          • Wound treatment . Bee products, especially honey and propolis, have the potential to heal wounds, burns and ulcers. We can expect to see greater use of them in regenerative medicine in the near future.
          • Pain relief therapies . Bee venom is used in some countries to treat pain, particularly for rheumatic and neuropathic pain. Further research into the effectiveness and safety of this therapy may lead to its more widespread use.
          • Support for the immune system . Some bee products contain substances that support the immune system. As interest in a healthy lifestyle and natural treatments increases, we can expect an increase in interest in these products as immune-boosting agents.
          • Sustainable development of beekeeping . There will be a growing awareness of the importance of beekeeping for the preservation of the ecosystem and food production. Greater emphasis on practices that ensure bee welfare and the quality of bee products can be expected.
          • New technologies in production and processing . New technologies are already being developed that can help obtain and process beekeeping products more effectively. This may result in their greater availability on the market.
          Apitherapy remains a fascinating field that combines traditional practices with new research and technology. In the near future, we can expect further research into its potential and implementation of practical applications in medicine and a healthy lifestyle.


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