Gaza's Bee Doctor Sees Old Art Revitalized Amid Ailing Health System
Ma'an News, 7/10/2009
Rateb Smour has been running a bee venom clinic in Gaza City since 2003; his was the first and remains the only clinic to use bee venom as a medical treatment, but interest is expanding as basic pain medication remains scarce in the Gaza Strip.
Smour started raising bees in 1985 with his father, who also practiced the art of bee venom treatments. The practice was for the family, then the extended family, and used primarily for treatment of back and muscle pain.
As word of the success some had with the treatment grew, the family specialty turned into a part-time business. "I never used to charge for the treatment," said Smour, but when demand rose he began charging 10 shekels (2.50 US dollars) per treatment.
"Many people believe in my treatment," Smour said during an interview with Ma'an, "And my traditional way often has better results than the treatment people receive in hospitals." The numbers of patients that come into Smour's clinic are either a testament to the success of the treatment, or to the failure of the health system. Between 50-100 patients come in every day, and Smour says the number is growing.
Smour now raises three kinds of bees, applied to ailments as diverse as ghost-pains for amputations, arthritis, chronic back pain, sinus infections, migraine treatment, thyroid problems, night blindness and for the hearing or visually impaired. In all, Smour says there are now 150 different conditions that he has successfully treated.
According to researchers in North America, bee venom stimulates the release of cortisone, and anecdotal evidence suggests it is effective in treating arthritis, rheumatic diseases and nerve pain…