A Woman Died From "Apitherapy," a Bee Acupuncture Treatment

Here's why the Gwyneth Paltrow-approved procedure is such a bad idea.

In recent years, scientists have begun to explore the measurable benefits of acupuncture. In most cases, the therapy involves needles, not bees. But in April, a Spanish woman died after she received acupuncture involving the stingers of live bees, a treatment known as “apitherapy” that Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow has said she’s experimented with. Given Paltrow’s history of peddling junk science and promoting dangerous or ineffective alternative therapies — not to mention the fact that she may not even believe the things she promotes — this poor woman’s fatal experience should make anyone considering apitherapy think twice before digging in.

As Inverse reported in April, doctors published the patient’s case study in the Journal of Investigational Allergology and Clinical Immunology. Before the fateful episode, she had been receiving the bee sting treatments every four weeks for two years — that’s 13 treatments a year — to “improve muscular contractures and stress.”

But after her final treatment, she developed severe complications.

This is #7 on Inverse’s list of the 25 Most WTF stories of 2018.

She developed symptoms that mirrored those of a bee sting allergy: wheezing, labored breathing, and eventually, unconsciousness. Her apitherapy technician did not give her epinephrine, the standard treatment for most allergies. An ambulance came 30 minutes later to take her to the hospital, where she died a week later from complications related to her anaphylaxis.

The doctors monitoring her explained how a person who had tolerated bee stings in the past might eventually become allergic.

“In sensitized persons, venom compounds can act as allergens, causing the release of mast-cell mediators and a spectrum of allergic reactions that can range from mild, local swelling to severe systemic reactions, anaphylactic shock, or even death,” the researchers write. “Furthermore, repeated exposure to the allergen was found to carry a greater risk of severe allergic reactions than in the general population.”

And while alternative medicine devotees may sing the praises of bee stings for conditions such as arthritis, scientists have repeatedly warned of the dangers.

A 2015 study in PLOS One, for example, includes an analysis of 145 studies on bee venom therapy, concluding that it can result in a range of negative effects, up to and including death.

So please, even though Gwyneth Paltrow told The New York Times in 2016 that she’d tried apitherapy, don’t try it yourself.

As 2018 draws to a close, Inverse is counting down the 25 stories that made us go WTF. Some are gross, some are amazing, and some are just, well, WTF. In our ranking from least to most WTF, this has been #7. Read the original article here.

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