Acupuncturists using traditional bee venom therapy cause controversy

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/1 17:08:36

A bee's stinger is inserted into a patient's skin at Xiang Meng's clinic. Photo: IC

A worker collects honey from beehives. Photo: IC

Nurses use wax the clinic makes from honey to massage patients. Photo: IC

Xiang pulls a stinger out of a pressure point on a patient's face. Photo: IC

A patient sleeps while wrapped in honey wax. Photo: IC


Every day, Xiang Meng, an acupuncturist and practiationer of traditional bee venom therapy, works while surrounded by buzzing bees.

When his patients come in for treatment, Xiang runs tests to make sure they are not allergic to bee venom. Then he opens a box filled with the insects and grabs a bee with tweezers, quickly jabs its stinger into pressure points on the patient's body, then pulls the bee away, leaving its stinger in their skin along with its venom.

The therapy has a long history. Practitioners use the venom to stimulate the skin and counteract the "venom" in patients' bodies that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) doctors believe causes diseases.

The clinic raises hundreds of thousands of Italian bees, because they have long stingers, a relatively large amount of venom each and breed quickly. Specialist beekeepers take care of the insects in the orchards and also harvest other bee byproducts, such as honey and beeswax.

The efficacy of the therapy is widely debated, just like many treatments in TCM.

In 2015, a Chinese acupuncturist in the US who offers bee venom therapy was sued by the state of California, with the authorities claiming that the therapy violates the state's acupuncture regulations.

Within China, the therapy is controversial as well. An acupuncturist in East China's Zhejiang Province said the therapy is indeed recorded in old medical books, but it has risks, so not many hospitals provide this therapy.

The Chinese government has invested great effort in promoting TCM. But despite these efforts, in recent years, more and more young people are coming to question these traditional therapies. Many believe the therapies are not empirically tested and cannot be regarded as medical science.

Global Times
Newspaper headline: Venomous cure?

Posted in: IN-DEPTH

blog comments powered by Disqus