Sting like a bee: alternative therapy in Gaza

Fri Apr 29, 2016 7:55pm EDT
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By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA (Reuters) - Rateb Samour sees 250 patients a day whose complaints range from hair loss to cerebral palsy and cancer. But he is not a doctor and has never worked in a hospital.

Samour inherited the skill of bee-sting therapy from his father, who used to raise bees. Then in 2003, the agricultural engineer started to dedicate all his time to studying and developing the alternative medicine treatment of apitherapy, which uses all bee-related products, including honey, propolis - or bee glue used to build hives - and venom.

"I am treating serious and chronic diseases which have no cure in regular medicine, I have achieved excellent results," said Samour, an Egyptian-educated specialist in entomology and bees in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian enclave.

“We speak about chondritis in the neck and spine, migraine, loss of hair, alopecia areata, skin diseases, cerebral palsy, autism and cancer," he said inside an apartment packed with patients on the edge of a beach refugee camp in Gaza City.

The 58-year-old Palestinian said he makes bees sting patients at certain points in their bodies that he has carefully studied. A bee dies after being made to sting.

"I have been subjected to doubts, but bee-sting therapy has proven itself as an excellent alternative medicine," he told Reuters. "Some doctors, who value the apitherapy for certain illnesses, are among my patients."

For a Reuters photo essay, please click on

The Islamist-ruled Gaza is under blockade by neighboring Egypt and Israel, which restricts the movement of goods and people in and out of the territory. So Gaza lacks sophisticated medical equipment and has patchy access to medicines.   Continued...

A Palestinian man, who suffers from shoulder pains, receives bee -sting therapy  at Rateb Samour's clinic in Gaza City April 11, 2016.  REUTERS/Suhaib Salem