Experts have been telling us for years that bees need our support.

We’re meant to be more kind to them for the sake of the planet. Without them, our fruit and veg wouldn’t grow and there’d be no honey to spread on toast (or something like that).

But surely going out of your way to get stung by a bee on purpose is taking things a little too far? Not for Gwyneth Paltrow, it seems.

Bees.
(Thinkstock)

In a recent interview, the actress-turned-lifestyle-blogger told the New York Times: “I’ve been stung by bees. It’s a thousands-of-years-old-treatment called apitherapy. People use it to get rid of inflammation and scarring. It’s actually pretty incredible if you research it. But, man, it’s painful.”

If you think it all sounds a little bit bonkers, stop reading right here.

But if there’s part of you that’s actually somewhat intrigued by Paltrow’s latest it’s-all-in-the-name-of-self-improvement confession, read on…

What is apitherapy?

The term refers to a branch of alternative medicine that uses all bee-related products, including honey, propolis or bee glue and venom.

Bee venom therapy (BVT) has apparently been used for more than 5,000 years and was even practised by Hippocrates.

In 1888, Austrian physician Phillip Terc studied the treatment for his Report about a Peculiar Connection between the Bee Stings and Rheumatism. But it was Hungarian Bodog Beck who brought it to the US back in the 1930s.

The practice involves putting live bees on acupuncture points of the body, or injecting the venom with needles. Ouch!

What can bee venom treat?

Bee.
(Thinkstock)

Melittin, the active compound in apitoxin (bee venom), has anti-inflammatory properties and is believed, by some, to be able to treat a range of ailments.

The Duchess of Cambridge is reportedly a fan of bee venom facials, while New York dermatologist Dr Jeannette Graf told Vogue that melittin could potentially help those with rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), skin lesions, and chronic hives.

Studies have also been conducted into the effects of melittin on lyme disease, cervical cancer and HIV, but on the whole, it remains a bit of a mystery.

What you need to know…

Apitherapy should not be used by those who know they are allergic to bees, as it could cause a serious reaction, including anaphylactic shock.

And the practice is not yet widely accepted in Western medicine.

Anyone who is worried about their health should always consult a doctor.

But if you have been the go-ahead from your physician and are curious about the treatment, all you need to do is brave the sting…

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