Woman Dies from Gwyneth Paltrow-endorsed Treatment

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If you were born in the 1980s, like me, there’s a very good chance that like me you saw the film My Girl starring Macaulay Culkin and Anna Chlumsky. And like me, there’s a very good chance that you were SCARRED FOR LIFE. Oh by the way: this video contains spoilers for the movie My Girl.

So you were SCARRED FOR LIFE because you watched the film because the kid from Home Alone was in it, but that kid fucking dies like halfway through and it comes out of nowhere. He dies because he gets stung by bees. My Girl did for bees what Jaws did for sharks, at least when it came to 10-year old girls like me.

You know who didn’t see My Girl? Gwyneth Paltrow and a thousand other idiots who willingly are getting acupuncture where instead of needles they stick you with LIVE BEES. Honestly, it sounds like the kind of “medical treatment” invented by someone who hates people who seek out alternative medicine. It’s like saying “what if we did ear candling but instead of putting the bottom of the candle in their ear we put the flame part in their ear?” “What if I pretend to speak to a person’s dead grandmother but instead of saying she loves him I say that she’s roasting in hell?” Like, you’ve taken one thing that’s already bullshit and you’ve added something so that now it’s really horrible bullshit.

So that’s “apitherapy,” which can also include treating various conditions with honey or royal jelly or honeycomb or whatever other bee-product you think might have magical properties.

Bee venom acupuncture, like regular acupuncture, has basically no decent science to support it. One meta-analysis found that yeah, it might work for post-stroke shoulder pain, but all the studies that claim to show that are extremely poor quality. In order to show any actual effectiveness it needs to have real science done by real scientists, and we don’t really have that for the should pain, let alone for the dozens of other things people claim bee venom fixes, like “multiple sclerosis, arthritis, wounds, pain, gout, shingles, burns, tendonitis, and infections,” according to the American Apitherapy Society. Yep, multiple sclerosis. Fuck these guys.

All of that brings us to the latest news, as reported in a case study published in the Journal of Investigational Allergology and Clinical Immunology, in which a woman has died due to bee sting acupuncture. She was 55 years old and had no prior allergies or diseases on record. She had been getting bee sting treatments once a month for two years before the fateful day when after a sting, she became short of breath and lost consciousness. The quack giving her the “treatment” didn’t have any proper tools to combat anaphylactic shock, and an ambulance took 30 minutes to get to her (at which point real medical professionals treated her with adrenaline and antihistamines). It was too late, and she fell into a coma and died a few weeks later.

Here’s the scary thing about bee venom: repeated exposure to bee venom makes it more likely to cause an allergic reaction. I knew a beekeeper who had obviously been stung many times in his life. One day he was stung, went into anaphylactic shock, and died on the spot because he didn’t have an epi-pen handy. It happens because sometimes, a bee sting will cause a person’s body to misinterpret the venom as a virus or other invader, making their immune system cells release large amounts of chemicals like histamines, which flood the body. This also causes the person’s blood pressure to drop, which can lead to fainting. If the person has an epi-pen, which has epinephren (adrenaline), they can inject themselves and give them about a half hour to get help before they pass out.

So yeah, if your business is based on purposely stinging people with bees, you should have some damned adrenaline on hand in case of anaphylactic shock. It’s bad enough these people are stinging people with bees without any noticeable benefit — it’s criminal that they’re doing it without having a possible life-saving device that literally costs $10.

Speaking of criminal, hi Gwyneth Paltrow! The New York Times very helpfully passed along “Dr.” Paltrow’s health advice to get stung by bees. She also suggests it on her shitty website Goop. I’ll be interested to see if she ever gets around to deleting that now that a woman has actually died from it, but honestly who cares? People will keep buying her bullshit whether it kills someone or not.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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One Comment

  1. Yep. For those of us not allergic, bee stings are a nuisance. But then again, we usually don’t get stung by hundreds of them in quick succession, and we certainly don’t do so repeatedly as a form of therapy.

    Sometimes I think celebrities’ weird beliefs are a game of Can You Top This.

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