A 55-year-old Spanish woman has died after she underwent experimental and alternative acupuncture. The case study focusing on the woman’s death was published by the Journal of Investigational Allergology and Clinical Immunology after the woman passed during a session of acupuncture where live bee stings were used in place of needles.
The practice has been gaining some traction over the last few years, and essentially relies on the same principles as normal acupuncture but with the added stipulation that the minor doses of bee sting venom help improve the healing properties of the acupuncture.
‘Bee Sting Acupuncture’ has reportedly caused the death of a 55yo woman in Spain 😞— Dr Brad McKay (@DrBradMcKay) 19 March 2018
“Apitherapy” is a ridiculous, unproven, & (obviously) dangerous alternative health practice 🐝https://t.co/cQ2myHmRTI #science
The alternative medicine of acupuncture involves the application of needles to pressure points along the skin to help alleviate muscular and skeletal pain. The evidence in support of it actually working is patchy at best, but there’s a general consensus that acupuncture helps enough people to be worthwhile and is ultimately harmless. Now experts are warning that the same logic does not apply to the new practice of using live bee stings, and the death of this 55-year-old Spanish woman helps reinforce that point.
Frighteningly, this woman was not allergic to bees when she first began having treatments. She developed the allergy as a result of repeated exposure to the venom in the beestings. She had no other risk factors but one day, after her treatment, she suddenly developed shortness of breath and lost consciousness. It took 30 minutes for the ambulance to arrive and she was rushed to hospital and treated with various antihistamines and adrenaline, but she passed several weeks later from organ failure.
Death from bee sting acupuncture raises questions about the safety of an increasingly popular field of alternative medicine, known as apitherapy. https://t.co/aCyUUTxzaX— Cosmos Magazine (@CosmosMagazine) 20 March 2018
Writing about the case the journal wrote:
“Repeated exposure to the allergen was found to carry a greater risk of severe allergic reactions than in the general population.”
In other words, the woman’s excessive exposure to bee stings resulted in her body suddenly developing a fatal allergic reaction. Experts are now pointing to the case as evidence of why the new trend of substituting acupuncture needles with live bees is not a harmless exercise in alternative medicine, it’s a very dangerous and serious procedure that has little scientific backing and has the capacity to go seriously wrong.
“The risks of undergoing apitherapy may exceed the presumed benefits, leading us to conclude that this practice is both unsafe and unadvisable.”