Mexicans switch to bee products as part of growing trend toward traditional medicine

World Today

Alternative medicine is a growing industry in Mexico. Ancient remedies can provide natural ways to treat illnesses, while allowing Mexicans to connect to their heritage. CGTN’S Alasdair Baverstock reports on a the growing popularity of bee therapy.

Apitherapy is the treatment of illness with products that come from honeybees, particularly their venom, and in Mexico, it’s very popular. Estimates suggest some 60 percent of Mexicans are proponents of indigenous medicine, and where there’s honey being produced, there are bee sting clinics. Leticia Solis works in one such facility. She’s trained and certified by the Mexican apitherapy association.

“We use natural substances produced by bees, including honey, pollen, and royal jelly,” Solis said. “Mexico today has at least one apitherapist in every state, and the advantage we have is that it’s an all-round treatment, which can be used to help a wide variety of problems.”

Leticia’s patients suffer from various ailments, but all claim the treatment has helped.

“I suffered from regular epileptic fits,” said patient Luz Maria Paredes. “I’ve been coming here for three years, and I haven’t experienced an episode in two and a half years. I feel perfectly well.”

“I have arthritis that made movement painful,” said Jose Lerma. “It even hurt to turn my head from side to side. But I’ve been coming here for two years and now don’t I don’t need prescription medicine.”

According to scientific research, bee venom has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, but that may not be the extent of these insects’ benefits. The honey they produce is effective at healing burns, while propolis, the sealant bees produce to make their hives, shows promise fighting both the HIV virus and leukemia. Bee sting properties have intrigued rheumatologist Conrado Garcia, who was once skeptical about the treatment, but now says further investigation should be conducted.

“From a scientific point of view, multiple substances have been found in bee venom which are specifically helpful in the control and regulation of inflammation,” said Garcia. “This could be an explanation for why patients with these sorts of illnesses have seen clinical improvements.”

Anyone severely allergic to bee stings should steer clear of apitherapy, as a reaction could prove life threatening. But most here in Mexico see the treatment as a way to reconnect with their ancestral heritage, as they seek health and wellbeing through this unconventional approach.