Bee stings are pretty painful, so it seems counterintuitive that bee venom might actually be useful in treating jaw pain and other symptoms of TMJ, but new research suggests that lotion containing bee venom might be a good alternative for TMJ.
Cave paintings show humans harvesting honey as much as 15,000 years ago, but it wasn’t until the efforts of the Egyptians that bees were domesticated. The Egyptians also discovered the medicinal potential of bee-related products. For most of us, it seems a pretty minimal potential: a spoonful of honey as a natural cough syrup alternative or beeswax lip balm, but there are some amazing possibilities for apitherapy, the use of bees for medicine.
In particular, the bee’s venom has proven an incredibly fertile source for potential medicines. Although apipuncture–the medicinal use of actual bee stings–is unlikely to be a popular treatment, the compounds derived from bee venom have been used to treat multiple sclerosis, shingles, arthritis, and more.
That’s because bee venom is a complex blend of compounds, including anti-inflammatories and even pain relievers. But for TMJ treatment, probably the most important component of bee venom is its muscle relaxant.
Testing Bee Venom Lotion
To determine the effectiveness of lotion containing bee venom, 79 patients who had TMJ were assigned randomly to receive either a lotion containing bee venom or plain vaseline. Participants were instructed to apply their lotion to their jaw muscles for three minutes a day for 14 days.
Not all patients completed the trial. Four patients had allergies and had to be excluded, five other patients didn’t follow through with the treatment, and two refused to use lotion that might contain bee venom. However, those that did complete the study showed significant improvement in their TMJ symptoms compared to those that just used vaseline and massage. They reported significant subjective improvement of their symptoms and tension in jaw muscles was measurable reduced.
We can look forward to additional studies of this promising treatment option, but if you’re looking for TMJ treatment today, please call (803) 781-9090 for an appointment with a Columbia, SC TMJ dentist at Smile Columbia Dentistry.