Actress Gwyneth Paltrow has been criticized for some of the unusual advice that she has given on her website Goop.com where she writes about New Age notions, cosmetics and wellness.
The Oscar winner recently shared her experience with bee stings with 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. I haven't done cryotherapy yet, but I do want to try that."
The website of the American Apitherapy Society reads:
Bee venom therapy was practiced in ancient Egypt, Greece, and China—three Great Civilizations known for their highly developed medical systems. Hippocrates, the Greek physician known as the "Father of Medicine", recognized the healing virtues of bee venom for treating arthritis and other joint problems. Today, growing scientific evidence suggests that various bee products promote healing by improving circulation, decreasing inflammation, and stimulating a healthy immune response.
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Hippocrates is believed to have died around 370 BC, so it's not clear exactly how many options actually existed in his day beyond natural therapies.
Refinery29 noted in December 2015 that some studies have shown that bee venom may be helpful for some cases of rheumatoid arthritis, prostate enlargement and cancer, but not so much for skin care.
"There is no scientific evidence," Dr. Bruce Katz, director of the Cosmetic Surgery & Laser Clinic at Mount Sinai Medical Center, told the news site. "In fact, it can be dangerous. You can have an allergic reaction that causes swelling or worse, or go into anaphylactic shock. This is not something you should apply to your skin."
Dr. Ellen Marmur added: "Homeopathy [a philosophy of alternative medicine] is based on using poisons to help you, but it’s not using [substances you could be] allergic to."
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If you notice a reaction to bee venom products, Marmur says, it means "your body is getting trained to react to something, so over time you react more and more."
In other words, for people with allergies to bee venom, bee stings can be lethal and have to be treated immediately; even experimenting could be life-threatening and is not recommended.