According to the Wall Street Journal, rats were castrated and then given testosterone to cause them to develop BPH. They were then divided into three groups.
One group was treated with bee venom, and the second was treated with the drug finasteride (Propecia, Proscar), which is commonly used to treat enlarged prostate.
The third group got no additional treatment. A fourth group of uncastrated rats received placebo shots and served as a control.
Researchers found that the prostates of rats castrated and then given testosterone were significantly larger — 1.8 times — than the control rats. But the prostates of rats given either bee venom or finasteride were much smaller:
When compared to control rats, the rats given bee venom were only 1.1 times larger, and those treated with finasteride were 1.3 times larger.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is a common disorder in aging men, involves inflammation that is associated with an imbalance between cell proliferation and cell death.
Because current BPH drug treatments have undesirable side effects, the development of well-tolerated and effective alternative medicines to treat BPH is of interest. Bee venom (BV) has been used in traditional medicine to treat conditions, such as arthritis and rheumatism, and pain.
Although inflammation has been associated with BPH and BV has strong anti-inflammatory effects, the effects of BV on BPH are not fully understood.
Therefore, in this study, we evaluated the efficacy of BV against testosterone-induced BPH in rats. BV decreased prostate weight compared to the untreated group. In addition, BV suppressed serum dihydrotestosterone concentration levels and the levels of proliferating cell nuclear antigen in the histological analysis.
Furthermore, BV significantly decreased the levels of the apoptotic suppressors, Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL, and increased the levels of the proapoptotic factors, Bax and caspase-3 activation.
These results suggested that BV suppressed the development of BPH and has good potential as a treatment for BPH.