Time Out Beijing, October 2011
After being approved as an official medical practice by the Chinese government in 2007, the buzz around apitherapy (otherwise known as fengliao) has made it the fastest growing trend in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The treatment, which involves the use of honeybees for medicinal purposes, is being increasingly incorporated into the regimen of local hospitals and has been touted as a cure for everything from multiple sclerosis to shingles.
Dropping by the Shunyi Apitherapy Hospital to try out its ‘bee venom therapy’, we can’t help but wonder if getting stung by bees in order to improve your health can really work?
As abrasive as it may sound, the therapy is a lot more complicated than simply swatting the nearest hornets’ nest. Our doctor selects a live bee with his tweezers (to ensure the potency of the poison), kills it with a quick squeeze, and, with a steady hand, positions the stinger with surgical precision. Incorporating other aspects of Chinese medicine, the stinger is then applied to the acupuncture points best suited to where the patient’s ailment lies.
Despite its folk medicine vibe, there is science behind the treatment. The poison is thought to be of benefit because the sting causes the body to emit anti-inflammatory hormones; these are said to help reduce swelling in injury – although anyone allergic to bee stings should stay clear. From a TCM point of view, the acupuncture points connect to key nerve paths and these help to distribute the ‘heat’ and healing effect from the bee’s poison…
Shunyi Apitherapy Hospital
Unit 2, Building 8, 101 Jianxin Nan Qu, Shunyi district (6944 1779). Open 9am-4pm daily. Treatment starts from 100RMB. Some staff speak basic English, but it’s best to go with someone who knows Mandarin. 顺义区建新南区8栋2单元101