Beware The Honey Trap: Gwyneth Promotes Bee Venom Therapy
Gwyeth Paltrow reigns supreme as the top celebrity purveyor of the woo which emanates from Hollywood. The actress knows no boundaries when it comes to promoting unproven and outright dangerous “therapies”. An entire book has been written on the subject of Gwyneth lending her celebrity to some of the worst “alternative health” practices.
The most recent insanity offered by Gwyneth is Bee Venom Therapy. As reported by Sky News:
“I’ve been stung by bees. It’s a thousands of years old treatment called apitherapy,” Paltrow told The (New York) Times. “People use it to get rid of inflammation and scarring. It’s actually pretty incredible if you research it. But, man, it’s painful.”
Incredible indeed. Bee Venom Therapy (BVT) has yet to be proven it yeilds any health benefits. Despite the lack of evidence, bee stings are believed by some people to help ease the symptoms of a wide variety of diseases, including arthritis, multiple sclerosis, tendonitis, fibromyalgia – and yes, “inflammation and scarring” in the case of Gwyneth Paltrow. Proponents of BVT rely almost entirely on anecdotal evidence – a sure red flag when it comes to health claims.
What is scientifically proven about bee stings? According to Web MD:
About 2 million Americans have allergies to the venom of stinging insects. Many of these individuals are at risk for life-threatening allergic reactions. Approximately 50 deaths each year in the U.S. are attributed to insect sting allergies.
A 2015 systematic review of the risks associated with BVT showed:
A total of 145 studies, including 20 randomized controlled trials, 79 audits and cohort studies, 33 single-case studies, and 13 case series, were evaluated in this review. The median frequency of patients who experienced adverse events related to venom immunotherapy was 28.87% (interquartile range, 14.57–39.74) in the audit studies. Compared with normal saline injection, bee venom acupuncture showed a 261% increased relative risk for the occurrence of adverse events (relative risk, 3.61; 95% confidence interval, 2.10 to 6.20) in the randomized controlled trials, which might be overestimated or underestimated owing to the poor reporting quality of the included studies.
Even some alt-med-friendly websites like Healthyday.com, correctly inform their readers:
A person who’s having a severe reaction to a bee sting may develop hives on the skin and swelling around the eyes, lips, throat, and tongue. He or she may vomit, slur spoken words, show signs of mental confusion, and even struggle to breathe. Soon the person may lose consciousness. These are signs of anaphylactic shock, a condition that can be fatal if not treated quickly.
Bee venom has been, and continues to be, studied by real scientists. As a category, venoms are usually highly biologically active – they evolved to be highly active, either inducing pain, paralysis, or death. So it is no surprise that they are a resource of potentially powerful drugs. However, the scientific approach to the potential of bee venom is quite different than the Gwyneth Paltrow-based approach. As Steve Novella once summarized:
“We can see, side by side, the legitimate scientific approach to bee venom and the CAM approach. The scientific approach is reductionist, methodical, and rigorous and actually has the potential to develop something useful. The CAM approach is to make appeals to nature and antiquity, to make nonsensical hand-waving pseudoscientific justifications, to call it “therapy” before any proven therapeutic effect, and to use it carelessly for a wide range of different conditions.”
Yet another stinging rebuke against Ms. Paltrow.