The most unusual stall at the Nagaland Honey & Bee Mission (NHBM) pavilion at the NER Agri Expo is the bee venom therapy or apitherapy stall. The NHBM discovered a group of people in Terogvunyu village, in Tseminyu block, Kohima, who were not only active bee keepers but also apitherapists. This very group has been invited to set up a stall and administer free treatment to visitors willing to avail themselves of the services.
Apitherapy or bee venom therapy is the use of products of the common honeybee for therapeutic purposes which involve the medicinal use of bee sting venom which reduces inflammation and boosts the body’s immune system.
Bee venom is a complex composition of enzymes, proteins and amino acids. It is a colorless clear liquid with a sweet taste and is a little bitter. Bee venom is applied to specific points on the surface of the body. After its sting, the bee immediately dies.
Patients are tested for sensitivity which involves a minute dose of the venom on the skin portion between the thumb and index finger. Within 20 mins, if allergic reaction happens, spirit is applied as an antidote. With every sting, a patient feels a pin-prick pressure on the skin portion it is administered on.
These bee stings are effective against a wide range of ailments such as arthritis, jaundice, goiter, infertility, gastritis, kidney problems, asthma, sinus, cough, eye allergy, toothache, corm, reptile bites, blood clots, lesions and even multiple sclerosis and cancer.
For common ailments like toothache and eye infection, bee acupuncture is done in the gum and on the periphery of the eye. For stomach pain it is done at the nape. Diabetes treatment takes about 8 months of rigorous acupuncture sessions while skin diseases such as ringworms takes 40 to 50 stings at a time. The number of bee stings depends on severity of the disease. Normally children below 8 years and old people are not treated.
Bee venom therapy was practiced in ancient Egypt, Greece and China. So how did this alternative treatment to diseases make it’s inroad into Nagaland? Pastor Sentsing Tep, the team spokesman from Terogvunyu explains, “Our former pastor, late G. Ayhun Semy took training in Korea in bee therapy. Lily Tep, who has the gift of healing, learned this therapy from him. We now run a Healing Home in our village where we administer bee therapy. NHBM came to learn about the activities of the Healing Home and invited us here.” He explains that there is a woman by the name of Neila Tunyo who was suffering from cancer and the doctors in Imphal said they could not help her any more. So she came to the Healing Home for bee therapy. She would stay for 2 to 3 months at a stretch and then return for the treatment after every 3 to 4 months. It’s now been 3 to 4 years and she is still alive, and cured of cancer.
Apitherapists do not advice patients on any other medication to pursue bee therapy. The Healing Home in Terogvunyu is run by the Church as part of its wider ministry and is not for commercial purposes. However, the team coming to Dimapur for NER Agro-Expo has gained a big exposure and has been able to extend their knowledge to the denizens, some of whom never heard about this alternative therapy before.
None the less, one wonders about the success rate and the effectiveness of this alternative therapy in curing diverse and complex ailments. Is it perhaps a spupernatural miracle science cannot explain? As pastor Sentsing Tep says, “Our life is in God’s hands. Some patients may become worse, and some may even die after taking apitherapy. But in our experience, more than 80% have been cured.” For an onlooker, these claims may appear very tall and in need of thorough scientific research to provide proof to their claims. Whether the claims and short-term findings are reliable or not, NHBM’s team leader, Mhathung Yanthan bravely volunteered to have his knees stung by four bees in a hope to cure in knee ache.
Susan Waten, HAWA, Dimapur.