While most people probably think of them as painful and something to avoid, bee stings are the primary weapon in Omar Abulhassan's treatment arsenal – their venom providing relief for everything from chronic pain to rheumatoid arthritis to depression, he says.
After reading about the alleged health benefits of bees in the Koran several years back, Abulhassan, who's only 30 years old, decided to take the plunge and start raising bees all on his own – with much success thus far.
"These are not the only benefits," Abulhassan says about the amazing benefits of bee venom, many of which have yet to be discovered. "It helps with having a better mood," he claims.
In a typical month, Abulhassan says he treats about five patients using bee venom. Each individual patient receives about six bee stings in various locations on his or her body, depending on that patient's ailment.
One of Abulhassan's regular patients, 29-year-old Mohamed Abdelfattah, says that bee stings have helped him tremendously in many areas of his life.
"I constantly receive treatment using bees to increase my immunity and body strength," Abdelfattah told Thompson Reuters Trust about his personal experience with the therapy.
While bee sting therapy is still somewhat obscure, especially in the West, it's reportedly working so well in patients who receive it that bee experts are calling for more research into bee venom therapy moving forward.
"This needs studies and scientific equipment and research so that we can understand what the bee venom contains and how we can benefit," says Mahmoud Abdullatif, an experienced beekeeper and member of the Arab Federation of Beekeepers.
Truth be told, there have been published studies suggesting that bee venom therapy, also known as apitherapy, is effective. One of these was published back in 1988 by researchers from Aristotle University in Thessalonika, Greece.
This paper revealed that bee stings were effective at slowing the progress of arthritis-like disease in rats, in part by slowing the production of interleukin-1, a compound that's known to fuel inflammation and arthritic pain.
More recently, research out of South Korea found that bee venom contains a unique compound known as melittin that directly fights inflammation. This further reveals how apitherapy works in targeting arthritis naturally.
We also reported back in 2013 that bee venom may be effective in the treatment of HIV.
Such studies are few and far between, however, hence why Abdullatif says that more need to be published in order to truly grasp the full potential of bee venom.
What are especially needed are human trials, seeing as how the most recent one was conducted in 1941 with questionable results.
It's also important to remember that some people are allergic to bee stings, and thus wouldn't be viable candidates for such a therapy, assuming it gains more credibility in modern scientific literature.
"Anyone undergoing bee-venom therapy should have a bee sting kit handy. The kit includes a syringe and a dose of epinephrine (also known as adrenaline), a drug that can save your life if you go into anaphylactic shock," explains Health Day in a report on bee venom therapy.
"It's also a good idea for a beginner to get a single 'test sting' on the knee or forearm before undergoing a full bee barrage. But remember, the fact that your body tolerated the first 49 stings doesn't automatically mean it can handle the 50th," this report adds.
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