Libyan patients turn to bee stings for pain relief

In a substitute for modern medicine, a doctor in Libya is treating his patients by stinging them with bees.

Workers are carefully plucking honey bees out of a busy hive placing them in a plastic bag and handing them over to Mohammed al-Zawawi, an apitherapy practitioner in the northern city of Misrata.

Zawawi believes live bee acupuncture therapy can support the treatment of a variety of diseases, as well as relieve pain.

One of the patients is Ismail Issi he is ill with leukemia, his father says the bee's stings are helping.

"My son has a tumor. It was leukemia but afterwards it spread to his bones. We came to visit this doctor who uses bees and thank God, there has been some improvement. His right eye had become swollen, but has since shown improvement, thank God. We hope that he gets well soon (the child) with the help of this doctor."

In a typical session, Zawawi uses an average of six bees to sting different parts of his patients' bodies, depending on their ailments.

Zawawi says at first people were unsure about alternative medicine but word of mouth has helped his business grow with an increasing number of patients seeking his help.

Generally considered as a part of traditional medicine the use of beehive products has been used for centuries in different parts of the world.

The practitioners of live bee acupuncture claim that the anti-inflammatory compound contained in the venom is beneficial to treat certain conditions.

But the practice remains controversial within the medical field, with some saying that the health risks and side effects of administrating venom to patients outweigh its purported benefits.

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