Bee sting therapy causing a buzz in China
Bee sting therapy causing a buzz in China
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.
No clinical studies
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 Qur'anic 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.”
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 health care 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 favor 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.
Ta’ateemah: Giving Eid a Hijazi flavor
- Dibyaza is made of melted dried apricots, roasted nuts, figs, peach and sugary dates to create a marmalade-like dish that can be enjoyed with or without bread
- The dibyaza is also similar to an Egyptian dish called khoshaf, but dibyaza is often partnered with shureik — a donut-shaped bread with sesame sprinkled all over it
JEDDAH: Ta’ateemah is the name of the breakfast feast Hijazis enjoy on the first day of Eid Al-Fitr. It is derived from the Arabic word, itmah, or darkness, because the dishes served are light, just like midnight snacks.
Muslims around the world celebrate Eid Al-Fitr to feast after fasting for the holy month of Ramadan. But it is called Al-Fitr from iftar, or breakfast when translated to English, which is a meal Muslims do not get to experience during that month.
The first day of Eid is a day where they finally can, and they greet the day with joy by heading to Eid prayers and then enjoying this traditional meal.
Amal Turkistani, mother of five from Makkah who now lives in Jeddah, told Arab News all about a special Eid dish.
“The most famous dish is the dibyaza, and making a dish of it is a work of art that I can proudly say I excel at. Dibyaza is made of melted dried apricots, roasted nuts, figs, peach and sugary dates to create a marmalade-like dish that can be enjoyed with or without bread.”
She revealed that dibyaza is not a quick meal — it is usually prepared a day or two before Eid with the ingredients simmered to reach the correct liquid thickness.
No one can trace the origins of dibyaza — it remains a mystery. Some people claim it originated in Turkey, while others attribute it to the Indians.
A number of women who are famous for their dibyaza agreed that it is a Makkawi dish. This marmalade dish was developed and improved, with tiny details to distinguish it.
The dibyaza is also similar to an Egyptian dish called khoshaf, but dibyaza is often partnered with shureik — a donut-shaped bread with sesame sprinkled all over it.
Turkistani said sweet shops sell 1 kg of dibyaza for SR50 ($13), competing with housewives who make their own.
“I think it is always tastier when it’s homemade because of all the love that goes into making it. It’s also a wonderful way to greet your family and neighbors with this special dish that you only enjoy once a year.”
Her younger sister, Fatin, said: “My siblings always have Eid breakfast at my place, so it’s up to me to prepare the feast. My sister spares me the exhausting dibyaza-making, so I prepare two main dishes: Minazalla, which is a stew of lamb chops with tahini and a tomato chicken stew.
“She also serves what we call nawashif, or dry food, like different types of cheese and olives, pickled lemon, labneh, red mish — a mixture of white cheese, yogurt and chili pepper and halwa tahini,” Amal said.
Mohammed Ibrahim, 23, from Makkah, told Arab News: “It always feels unique to have minazalla and nawashif during Eid, and not just because it is followed by the Eidiyah.”