Bee Sting Therapy Causing a Buzz in China

Bee Sting Therapy Causing a Buzz in China

By Neil Connor on 2:15 pm August 13, 2013.

In a photo taken on August 2, 2013, a patient receives a bee sting administered by a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine at a clinic on the outskirts of Beijing. Patients in China are swarming to acupuncture clinics to be given bee stings to treat or ward off life-threatening illness, arthritis, and cancer, practitioners say. More than 27,000 people have undergone the painful technique — each session can involve dozens of punctures — at Wang Menglin’s clinic in Beijing, says the bee acupuncturist who makes his living from believers in the concept. (AFP Photo/Ed Jones)

Beijing. Patients in China are swarming to acupuncture clinics to be given bee stings to treat or ward off life-threatening illness, practitioners say. More than 27,000 people have undergone the painful technique — each session can involve dozens of punctures — at Wang Menglin’s clinic in Beijing, says the bee acupuncturist who makes his living from believers in the concept. But except for trying to prevent allergic reactions to the stings themselves, there is no orthodox medical evidence that bee venom is effective against illness, and rationalist websites in the West describe so-called “apitherapy” as “quackery.”“We hold the bee, put it on a point on the body, hold its head, and pinch it until the sting needle emerges,” Wang said at his facility on the outskirts of the capital.

The bee — Wang said he uses an imported Italian variety — dies when it stings.

“We’ve treated patients with dozens of diseases, from arthritis to cancer, all with positive results,” said Wang.

Bee stings can be used to treat “most common diseases of the lower limbs,” he added, and claimed they also work as a preventative measure. But sciencebasedmedicine.org, a US-based website, says that such claims of panaceas and cure-alls are “always a red flag for quackery”.

“There is no scientific evidence to support its use,” it says of “apitherapy,” or treatment with bee products.

One of Wang’s patients said doctors told him he had lung and brain cancer and gave him little over a year to live, but he now believes he has almost doubled his life expectancy and credits bee stings for the change. “From last year up until now, I think I’m getting much stronger,” the patient told AFP.

But on its website, the American Cancer Society makes clear: “There have been no clinical studies in humans showing that bee venom or other honeybee products are effective in preventing or treating cancer.

“Relying on this type of treatment alone and avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences.”

It adds that there is a Koranic reference to the medicinal properties of the liquid produced by bees, and that Charlemagne (742-814), the first Holy Roman Emperor, is said to have been treated with bee stings.

In the West bee stings have also been used by sufferers of multiple sclerosis (MS), an often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system.

But the National Multiple Sclerosis Society of the US says on its website: “In spite of long-standing claims about the possible benefits of bee venom for people with MS, a 24-week randomised study showed no reduction in disease activity, disability, or fatigue, and no improvement in quality of life.”

The use of bee acupuncture comes at a time when colonies of the insect around the world are mysteriously collapsing. Environmentalists warn that dwindling numbers of bees, which help pollinate crops, could have a serious effect on agricultural production.

Bee venom is one of the many traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) treatments derived from animals and plants — some of which are blamed for endangering particular wildlife species.

TCM is a major part of China’s healthcare system and a booming industry which continues to receive significant investment and support from the central government.

Many people in China cannot afford to buy the latest orthodox pharmaceuticals as national health insurance is limited.

Older people — who are more likely to fall ill — also favour traditional remedies because of deep-rooted cultural beliefs in the power of natural, rather than modern, ingredients.

Most hospitals in China have traditional medicine treatments available.

It can be a lucrative field for companies and practitioners — in 2012, the TCM industry in China produced goods worth 516 billion yuan ($84 billion), more than 31 percent of the country’s total medicine output, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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