Bee sting therapy causing a buzz in China

Mon Mar 22, 2010 10:15am EDT
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By Maxim Duncan

BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - Being stung by a bee would have most people rushing to hospital, expect at one Beijing clinic where patients queue up to be pricked into good health.

Bee sting therapy, which involves placing live bees on a patient's body at certain pressure points, dates back over 3,000 years in China and was considered legal in 2007.

It is similar to acupuncture in that it uses bees stingers instead of needles and the same principles, but the bees' toxin, which doctors say is a natural medicine, is essential, making the treatment like an injection.

Doctors at the Kang Tai Bee Clinic, a traditional Chinese medical facility in northeast Beijing, say the therapy has proved effective in curing diseases such as rheumatism and arthritis, as well as a list of other ailments.

"The bee therapy has an obvious effect on patients with bone and joint diseases," said Wang Jing, a doctor at the clinic.

"This treatment relies mainly on the bees' poison, which can help blood circulation, reduce inflammation and ease pain."

The bees used for the treatment are a hybrid of species from Italy and the Gulf, and are kept on the clinic grounds. Their 0.3 mm-long stings, which contain about 0.3 mg of toxin, make them suitable for the therapy, doctors say.

For the treatment, doctors use tweezers to pick up bees from the hive, placing them one by one on the pressure point of the painful area.   Continued...

<p>A patient receives treatment with bee venom for rheumatism at a clinic in Beijing November 17, 2006. REUTERS/Jason Lee</p>