CAIRO: Amira Hassan, 55, has been living with osteoarthritis for several years. Despite going to two doctors, she still suffers from an unbearable pain in both knees.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and one of the most common causes of disability due to limited joint movement, particularly in people over 50.
Inflammation caused by osteoarthritis results in pain of the joints. Wearing of the cartilage that acts as a cushion inside joints and the decrease of fluid that lubricates those joints makes it painful for patients to walk or even stand.
My doctor put me on Celebrex [non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug or NSAID], which I took for a year and a half. My condition was getting worse. I read some bad things about NSAIDS and wanted to quit taking them, Hassan said.
Against her doctor’s advice, who wanted to double her dose of Celebrex, she went to a clinic in Al-Arish that specializes in a type of alternative medicine called bee-sting therapy or Bee Venom Therapy (BVT).
She traveled 344 km northeast of Cairo to the small coastal town of Al-Arish to see Muhammad Naguib at the Honeybee Research Center. Hassan and other visitors who tried the treatment said they were finally relieved from the pains of arthritis and a host of other ailments.
After giving up Celebrex, Hassan started BVT and noticed that her condition improved considerably over the next several months. During the treatment, Hassan was subjected to between three to six stings over and around the affected area every two days for a period of four months.
Another patient suffering from MS – a serious illness that gradually destroys the nerves, causing weakness and inability to move – was subjected to 30 stings every two days. He tried the stings for seven months.
To minimize the affected area s sensitivity to the pains caused by stings, it was treated with crushed ice wrapped in a piece of cloth prior to every session.
During the sting session, the practitioner scraped a few bees into a glass of water, which wets their wings and inhibits them from flying way, and places a plastic lid on the glass to be sure. When Hassan would expose her legs, the insides of her knees would already be red and inflamed from the previous bee stings.
Using tweezers to remove a bee from the glass, the practitioner places that bee tenderly on Hassan’s knee. He holds it still with the tweezers for a few seconds until he s certain the stinger has been inserted into the patient’s skin, and then leaves the critter there, seconds later, he removes the bee.
The stinger, not much bigger than a splinter, is left in Hassan’s knee for a minute more to make sure the venom has entered her body. The dying bee is added to the jar of dead bees. The practitioner tweezes the stinger out of Hassan’s leg, which trails a slimy yellow, pus-like substance as it is pulled out.
The bee venom contains a number of strong anti-inflammatory substances believed to offer pain relief brought on by diseases that cause swelling in the joints such as rheumatism and rheumatoid arthritis. Such substances are thought to be a hundred times more powerful than hydrocortisone, the steroid used to treat everything from skin problems to chronic backaches.
Furthermore, researchers suspect that bee venom initiates long-term changes in the body s own chemistry, increasing its own production of anti-inflammatory chemicals. Hassan herself believes that bee venom attacks her pains and stimulates her body to continue combating the affliction. The first week of treatment was rather frustrating for her – it seemed the stings only increased her already considerable discomfort and almost suspended it. Still, she kept at it, and at the end of the second week began noticing a significant reduction in the pain, as well as the gradual absence of tension around the target area.
At the beginning of the second month, the size of the affected area started to diminish and slowly disappeared, along with all its symptoms by the end of the fourth month. Three years after the treatment, she had no recurrence at the once-painful parts of her leg or elsewhere.
Dr Faten Kamal Abdel Hadi, a professor at the National Research Center, underlined the importance of ‘apitherapy’ or bee products in strengthening the immune system in people s bodies.
For example, she told Daily News Egypt that bee honey, which is highlighted in holy books, is of great importance in healing unrecoverable burns in a shorter time and much better than conventional medicine. It works without any need for cosmetic surgery, conditional on application to the affected area soon after injury. It also brings positive results for diabetics who suffer from wounds after a surgery.
Dr Abdel Hadi is an internationally acclaimed expert in the field. She has attended many conferences in Europe and witnessed for herself the huge popularity of the complimentary medicine there, alongside the strong conviction that it is a miracle.
In Egypt, people are unaware of its uses, nor how to use it scientifically, and this is blamed on the lack of promotion. Universities and schools shrug off teaching it on the curriculum; that s why graduates know nothing about it.
In Europe, there are so many specialized centers that conduct up-to-date research on its capability of healing all diseases without any side effects, she said.
According to Dr Abdel Hadi, everyone can protect themselves from disease by strengthening their immune system. Results can be achieved by simple and inexpensive habits, like, for example, drinking a cup of bee honey in the morning, two or three hours before breakfast. Dr Abdel Hadi stressed that it must be mixed with water to avert side effects such as stomach ulcers or acidity.
“Try it for two months and you will see the result, she said.
As a practitioner of alternative medicine, Dr Ibrahim Ali said that thousands of years of experience in Chinese, Indian and Arab medicine can t be totally wrong or dangerous; otherwise our species would have become extinct.
HomeopathyBVT is just one type of alternative medicine. Another type called homeopathy, treats diseases by giving extremely small amounts of a substance that causes the disease.
Adel Awad is another patient who was prescribed four antibiotics for a painful and potentially fatal infection in his cervical vertebrae that disabled him. The drugs were ineffective and the infection spread. After three years of antibiotics, he was worn out by the drugs. His physician in Egypt recommended a center in London where he took a homeopathic medicine.
With rapid pain reduction and increased mobility in 48 hours, I stopped the antibiotics, said Awad. Six months later, a scan confirmed the effectiveness of the homeopathic remedy.
Acupuncture Dr Rada is an acupuncturist who treats pain and disease by pushing special needles into parts of the body; she confirmed her ability of treating a wide range of disorders, including arthritis, bronchitis, insomnia, diarrhea, Parkinson diseases, and hypertension. Her treatments can also be applied as an alternative, drug-free anesthesia.
Abdel Rahman Al-Saawy is just one of many who visited her clinic. Before getting married he was obese, but after going on a strict diet, in conjunction with using needles in his ear lobe, he lost around 80 kg in just seven months.
And unlike many people who go on strict diets, he was healthy, losing weight without suffering from anemia, fatigue and eating disorders.
“To achieve such huge weight loss without any complications in these few months, I had to go to Dr Rada’s clinic for seven months. The result is that I am slender, Abdel Rahman said.
The doctor inserts needles into selected acupuncture points, 3mm to 10mm deep, depending on the condition and treatment objectives. Once inserted the needles are rotated either by hand or, more often, connected to an electrical device that sends low-voltage currents along the needles and into the body.
Needles are inserted in certain points in the body to stimulate the sense of being well-stuffed with little
Depending on the patient s condition, needles remain in the body five minutes to an hour or more. Some people report feeling energized, while others feel relaxed.
Based on these patients’ successful experiences, it seems that people are not afraid to turn to alternative treatments when modern medicine fails to relieve their pains.