Bee sting therapy as a remedy?

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Bee stings are used in China to fight cancer, multiple sclerosis and numerous other complaints

Bees provide numerous substances that are used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat patients. This includes the bee venom, which is injected directly by bee sting. The bee stings are said to have a positive effect in diseases of multiple sclerosis (MS), arthritis and even cancer. Thousands of patients in China therefore regularly undergo painful bee sting therapy.

Various forms of application of bee substances are summarized under the term apitherapy. In addition to the waxy propolis built into beehives, honey and bee venom are also used. Bee sting therapy is currently particularly popular in China, reports the AFP news agency. Thousands of people would visit the acupuncture clinics to undergo the promising treatment. However, the scientific evidence for the preventive and healing effects of bee stings has so far been lacking. For serious illnesses such as MS or cancer, patients should under no circumstances rely on the effects of apitherapy alone, warn doctors from the American Cancer Society and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Thousands of people receive bee sting therapy Every session of bee sting therapy can involve dozens of stings and can therefore be extremely painful. However, more than 27,000 people have already undergone treatment at Wang Menglin's clinic in Beijing, reports the AFP news agency, citing the bee-sting acupuncturist and operator of the clinic. "We hold the bee at one point on the body and pinch it until the stinger protrudes," said Wang. For the bees, this means death. "We treated patients with dozens of diseases, from arthritis to cancer, all with positive results," said the user, convinced of his procedure. Bee stings could also be used preventively, Wang added.

Doubts about the benefits of bee sting therapy The article by the AFP news agency also speaks of the critical voices who see Wang's offer as purely money-making and question the assumed benefits. For example, the US website “Science-Based Medicine” emphasizes that a process that is generated as a panacea and panacea is “always a red flag for quackery”. The American Cancer Society is quoted as saying that "so far, no human clinical studies have shown that bee venom or other bee products are effective in preventing or treating cancer." There are explicit warnings against the effects of bee sting therapy as long as there is no scientific evidence of their benefits.

No evidence of a medical effect so far. Although many legends are circulating about the use of apitherapy, such as the fact that Karl (born 742, died 814) was treated with bee stings, researchers have so far been unable to prove the medical benefits. Rather, the US National Multiple Sclerosis Society explains that "despite long-standing claims about the potential benefits of bee venom for people with MS, a 24-week randomized trial showed no reduction in disease activity, disability, or fatigue, and no improvement in quality of life ”. So far, only the allergic reaction to bee venom has been documented, which can have life-threatening consequences for people with an insect venom allergy.

Traditional Chinese medicine is a booming industry In China, the methods of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) are usually also offered in regular practices and hospitals, since many people trust the traditional methods. They are an important part of China's healthcare system and a rapidly growing industry, which is also supported by the central government with substantial investments. "It can be a lucrative field for businesses and practitioners - last year the TCM industry produced 516 billion yuan worth of goods, more than 31 percent of China's total medical sector production," the AFP news agency said on the figures from the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics. The high demand is partly based on the fact that people cannot afford the latest medicines. However, the preference for TCM, particularly among older people, is based on deeply rooted cultural beliefs. People believe in the power of natural ingredients. (fp)

Image: Heiko Hausmann /

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