The buzz in Gaza: Bee sting therapy

There is an alternative therapy center in Gaza City that treats its patients using bee sting, which they claim has a variety of healing qualities.

Sting like a bee - alternative therapy in Gaza
In the Gaza Strip town of Rafah, beekeepers harvest honey as hundreds of bees swirl around them - but the honey isn't the only thing they're after.
There is an alternative therapy center in Gaza City that treats its patients using bee sting, which they claim has a variety of healing qualities.
Rateb Samour sees 250 patients a day in Gaza City whose complaints range from hair loss to cerebral palsy and cancer. But he is not a doctor and has never worked in a hospital. Yet he believes he can improve the health of his patients.
Samour inherited the skill of bee-sting therapy from his father, who used to raise bees.
Then in 2003, the agricultural engineer started to dedicate all his time to studying and developing the alternative medicine treatment of apitherapy, which uses all bee-related products, including honey, propolis - or bee glue used to build hives - and venom.
Samour told: "We had people with 7.3 million viruses in one centimeters of their blood. After around four months of bee treatment it was negative. Of course this is unbelievable. Not only with bees stings but also with bee products on a specific schedule. Thank God, many cases were completely healed," Samour said.
The 58-year-old Palestinian said he makes bees sting patients at certain points in their bodies that he has carefully studied.
Samour accepts that there are people who doubt his methods, but some of the patients at the centre said they had seen positive results.
"My son has autism. People told me about the bees. I've been treating him with bees for a year and a half now. He improved a lot, thank God," said Gaza resident Mouneera al-Baba.
"Thank God, my health is good now, all is good. Although I was getting treated with bees and God healed me, thank God, but I will not leave this place, why? I got used to bees," added Gazan Saado Aldaeefi.
Bee venom is made up of active substances that include enzymes, proteins and amino acids. It has anti-inflammatory elements that relieve pain.
Advanced bee venom treatment, developed in the 1990s in the West, has led to ways of generating venom without killing the bees. Most bees die after stinging, because of the loss of their venom sac and attached muscles that are torn in the process.
Alternative medicine is a medical therapy regarded as unorthodox by the medical profession, which does not originate from scientific evidence. In some cases such therapies are directly contradicted by scientific evidence and considered by scientists as harmful, sometimes even toxic.
But in a country that finds itself under blockade by neighboring Egypt and Israel, which restricts the movement of goods and people in and out of the territory and the provision of sophisticated medicine, there appears to be no shortage of patients willing to undertake treatment such as apitherapy in an attempt to treat their condition.
According to medical website, "bee venom is safe for most people when injected under the skin by a trained medical professional. Side effects include itching, anxiety, trouble breathing, chest tightness, heart palpitations, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sleepiness, confusion, fainting, and low blood pressure. Side effects are more common in people with the worst allergies to bee stings, in people treated with honeybee venom, and in women."