AN acupunture treatment that uses live bees has killed a woman in Spain.
The 55-year-old died after suffering an allergic reaction during the apitherapy session, which uses the sting of live bees instead of needles.
It is said to relieve stiff muscles and stress and was once touted by Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow.
Paltrow and other proponents claim that insect venom can relieve inflammation, arthritis, generalized pain, scarring, and skin issues.
But evidence to back those claims is weak and mixed, and numerous medical studies have tallied serious risks and adverse events, including anaphylaxis, stroke, and death.
The yet unnamed woman in Spain had been receiving the treatment approximately once a month for two years with no adverse effects until the last session when she experienced a severe reaction.
She ‘developed wheezing, dyspnea, and sudden loss of consciousness immediately after a live bee sting,’ according to a report published in the Journal of Investigational Allergology and Clinical Immunology.
She was taken to hospital but passed away ‘some weeks later’.
The Spaniard’s blood pressure had dropped so low that it caused a ‘massive watershed stroke and permanent coma’, leading to multiple organ failure.
The report did not specify exactly where in Spain or when her treatment took place.
“To our knowledge, this is the first reported case of death by bee venom apitherapy due to complications of severe anaphylaxis in a confirmed sensitised patient who was previously tolerant,” said the report’s co-authors, Paula Vazquez-Revuelta and Ricardo Madrigal-Burgaleta of the Ramon y Cajal University Hospital in Spain.
The report added: “The repeated exposure to the allergen was found to carry a greater risk of severe allergic reactions than in the general population.”