An ancient alternative form of medicine, acupuncture traditionally consists of small, thin needles being placed into special points as a way to heal the body. Relatively safe and with a long-standing track record, acupuncture has been used to treat everything from chemotherapy-induced nausea to back pain and even infertility.
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But one woman didn’t have as much luck with the ancient Chinese medicine after she died from acupuncture that used live bee stings instead of the conventional, tiny, sterile needles. With no history of allergies or disease, the 55-year-old woman, who had been partaking in bee acupuncture every month for the past two years as a way to help relieve stress, began to wheeze, had difficulty breathing and lost consciousness during her last session. A few weeks later, she died from organ failure. Now, her death is shedding light on apitherapy (alternative medicine practices that incorporate honey bee by-products) and whether it is safe or not.
With next to no evidence supporting the holistic benefits of deliberately choosing bee stings over more tried-and-true therapies, the practice of venom-based acupuncture is quickly gaining criticism. For now, let’s leave the bees to making honey instead of unorthodox therapeutic practices.
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