By Leo Roy, M. D., Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Sclerolysis, or the dissolving of scar tissue, is a variation of bee venom therapy in which the venom is not the sole agent, but is used in conjunction with other therapy to greatly enhance the effectiveness of this therapy. Bee venom is the greatest source of hyaluronidase, which attacks fibrous tissue in all parts of the body, including scars. Scars themselves sound like simple enough things, perhaps not worth talking about, but on a visit to Germany in 1960 I discovered that there are two hospitals, one in Bonn and one in Stuttgart, all the work of which is the treating of scars. Using therapy based on the work of two brothers, the Doctors Hinecke, the hospitals handle several hundred cases a day, both in- and out-patient, and some of the cases I learned of on this visit gave me a real appreciation of this important adjunct to any medical practice.
For example, the doctors spoke of a soldier who developed gangrene in a leg a couple of years after the war. He went through every available therapy only to ultimately lost the leg. A couple of years after that, the other leg began to develop gangrene. Having already explored every recourse, and being unwilling to start the same thing all over again, he somehow ended up trying Dr. Hinecke. The first thing the doctor noticed was a shrapnel scar on the soldier’s neck. The doctor treated the scar and the gangrene in the leg disappeared.
Upon returning to Toronto, I had a patient crippled by migraine headaches. He had suffered these headaches for fifteen to eighteen years and had spent the last three years visiting doctors all over the United States and Europe to no avail. This man bore a large scar on the neck from an abcessed submaxillary gland. Based on my experiences in Germany, I injected the scar and his migraine cleared. It did, however, keep returning, necessitating further examination of the patient. Therapy with submaxillary gland cell extracts reduced the incidence of the headaches further, and ultimately the discovery and treatment of allergies, in addition to the other treatments cleared the migraines up entirely and permanently.
So thus far sclerolysis may be seen to be sometimes effective by itself and sometimes in conjunction with other therapy. But the third, and most dramatic case which I will present, should illustrate most clearly how far-reaching the effects of abnormal scarring may be.
The patient involved was a woman of 50 or 55 years, who could not recall being well since infancy. She felt terribly sick and just could not enjoy her life, yet could not pinpoint any one thing that was at fault. Many doctors had tried to help her but none had succeeded. My own system for starting work with a patient involves not only a physical examination, but a 3000 to 4000 question form through which I attempt to get every piece of information possible which might shed light on the illness. This woman's questionnaire and examination turned up all kinds of deficiencies and/or imbalances, toxic conditions, etc., any of which might have been the source of her continuing physical misery and all of which should have yielded to suitable therapy. Treatment was started and absolutely no progress whatsoever was observed. I was forced to conclude that no matter how careful and thorough I thought I had been, something had been overlooked. So we started over again, pretending it was her first visit. Upon being asked what problem was uppermost in her mind, she countered promptly with the complaint of her sore throat. This sore throat had not been so much as mentioned in the initial examination; as it turned out, she had become tired of mentioning it to doctors since they had treated it as a passing affair of no consequence. When asked how long the throat had been sore, I was told it had been so since infancy, when she was operated on four times for her tonsils.
Dr. Hinecke’s scar therapy came immediately to mind. On examination, the entire tonsil fossa was found to be covered with scar. This was only my second attempt at sclerolysis, but using my longest needle, I injected the scar tissue, concluded the interview, and asked the patient to return in three days. On her return, her description of her response to the treatment has remained with me ever since. In effect, she said she felt as though she had been hit by a truck -- "No, hold on," she said. "You know how it is when you’re walking down the street and have a high level of vitality. If you get hit by a truck, your vitality goes down like a stone that’s falling, and then you’re on a low level of vitality until your body can recuperate. I experienced that feeling in reverse. When I got that injection, my life forces went up like that."
I injected her ten or twelve times and then never saw her again, but her case is truly exemplary. When you get failure cases, cases involving toxic or allergic problems, sometimes even a loss of the desire to live, there can be a scar involved. And that scar will prevent the patient from ever getting any better from any single therapy you may give him. This sounds radical, but I believe it to be so. Cases like the above-mentioned frequently seem to require nearly double the amount of therapy one might give the average patient just to keep them going, and yet get little or no better. There have been times with patients of this type in which I have failed to check for scars, but when I do so, I find that upon completion of treatment of the scar, other medication can usually be reduced by about half, and in a month or two they are hardly taking any treatment at all. It almost appears as though the treatment builds up inside them, but the body is not getting the benefit of it; somehow it is blocked off from the body. As soon as you get rid of the scar, all the effects and benefits of the therapy seem to come to life. A scar doing that may, not appear to make much sense, but when you see these people -- and I have seen one to two hundred of them in the last fifteen years -- it is hard to interpret it any other way.
Plainly, not everyone has this condition. It might be one out of every ten or twenty adult patients. Children usually heal so beautifully that you get no problems, although I have seen one or two cases. When the situation does occur, however, one must ask oneself why and the most likely reason is as follows.
In healing, tissue fibers grow across the wound like weaving. They consolidate and contract, and the problem lies in the fact that nerve fibers are growing back, too. If each type of fiber grows at a normal rate, you have no difficulties. But if there are abcesses or if you have people with low protein who cannot manufacture good enough fibers to do the weaving job, or have low vitamin C or poor elastic tissue, then you do not get a normal healing process. You are, however, likely to have a normal healing process in the nerve fibers anyway. The nerve tissue therefore grows faster than the surrounding scar tissue, which ends up pinching off the nerves, which in turn has as drastic an overall effect on the body as having a vise pinching a finger. It results in a condition of not being able to think properly, or feeling tired and miserable, of general malaise. The irritation from this pinched nerve appears to build up and in time flood the entire nervous system, which then affects the circulatory system and the glands.
Therefore, if the problem is pinched nerves, as it appears to be, the question becomes how to un-pinch them. This, in line with Dr. Hinecke’s work, is done by stretching the tissue to relieve the pressure by infiltrating the area with sterile water, creating an artificial edema. As sterile water is one of the most painful injections one can give, one percent novocaine is added. After exposure to the work of Charles Mraz and others, I have begun to also add bee venom to the solution, feeling that it reduces the number of injections needed and dissolves more of the fibrous tissue, yielding a better and more long-lasting effect due to its hyaluronidase content. As I have done no controlled research in this area, I must present my findings strictly from the clinical point of view.
It is almost impossible to locate the exact nerve endings involved, so I find the general area of the pinched nerve by running a needle slowly down the length of the scar, with the patient advised to mention any abnormal sensation. If the situation is severe, his pain will be acute as the needle passes over the affected area. Or it may be mild pain, or a tingling sensation running through the body, or a general discomfort. Where the scar is normal, the patient feels nothing, so the difference is very noticeable to him. The sensitive area is marked with crayon to guide the following injection.
Often the appearance of a scar will offer a clue. The abnormal scar may present an “angry” appearance, be red or keloid. Again, when questioned on the history of the scar, the patient will recall not being in the best of health at the time the wound, burn, or surgery occurred. I look for protein and mineral deficiencies then in other fibrous tissues of the body. Bruising, fallen arches, double-jointedness may indicate these deficiencies. "Phantom pains" following amputations may very well be caused by nerves pinched in the scar from the amputation. Itching of the scar is another common complaint, as is tenderness. The discomfort of the scar-pinched nerve may sometimes be blamed on adhesions. In addition, as may be judged from the description of the general malaise caused by abnormal healing, the patient may be thought to be a hypochondriac. Hypochondriacs should always be very carefully inspected for scars. And not only is the general health often affected by these scars, but the patient may have aches and pains in various parts of the body, and if no logical reason for these can be seen, they may be blamed on arthritis.
The injection itself contains ten minims of novocaine and 500 micrograms of bee venom dissolved in sterile water for a total volume of 10 ml, administered with a small needle, such as a 25 gage, which is 7/8 to one inch long. In a young patient, I may start with only 1/10 ml of bee venom and gradually build up the dosage. I do not use pure hyaluronidase instead of bee venom as I feel that the other constituents of the venom are beneficial.
In a large scar, I may use up the entire 10 ml, on a smaller scar perhaps only 2 or 3 ml. I inject only about 1 ml in each tender area of the scar, starting subcutaneously, that is very close to the surface where most nerve endings are. But I bear in mind that scars may also be deep, so I probe with the needle more and more deeply, in all directions, locating all sensitive spots, and injecting each with 1 ml of the solution. With small or not terribly serious scars, one treatment will frequently solve the problem permanently; with larger or more serious scars repeated injections at intervals or approximately every three days may be needed. When bruising occurs, indicating low vitamin C, the bruises must heal before continuing treatment. A scar problem may appear to be entirely cleared up, only to find a few months later that there are other sensitive areas within it that were initially masked by the stronger effects of the first-treated sections.
An interesting secondary effect of the treatment of these scars points to the inter-relationship of all parts of the body. Injecting one area of a scar will occasionally cause sensation or cessation of discomfort in another part of the body, as exemplified by acupuncture. This would appear to indicate that the pinched nerve is affecting this other part.
Occasionally a patient will have an allergic reaction, in which case I give them an anti-allergy therapy prior to each injection. A physiological histamine such as “Antronex” or “Antipyronex” can be given over a long period of time without damaging the liver. “Allerplex”, a combination of anti-histamine, vitamine C and adrenal gland cell extract is what I usually use. I have even used it in conjunction with extra vitamin C and niacin to bring a patient out of anaphylactic shock. A common minor reaction to the scar therapy is a feeling of faintness and dizziness about 20 to 30 minutes after the injection, as a result of the novocaine, but it passes quickly. Very occasionally, a patient will call in reporting that he is feeling very upset and miserable, a condition lasting two or three days. The therapy is contraindicated by flu, a fever, and pregnancy.
In conclusion, I would say that while the majority of scars are normal and need no help, the examination of patients for sensitive scars should be standard procedure for all doctors. A great deal of emphasis is placed on the diagnosis and treatment of disease, but insufficient emphasis is placed on the blocks to healing within the body. Abnormal scarring is of great importance in this aspect of medicine.
Work presented in the Second Symposium (January 16, 1978) of the North American Apiotherapy Society. University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA.