June 18 - Bee venom takes the sting out of paralysis. Tara Cleary reports.
INTRO: A bee farmer in the Philippines uses sting therapy to treat patients with gout, arthritis, and autoimmune disorders. STORY: Feeling the pain of a bee sting, but this sting is deliberate. Filipino bee farmer turned alternative medicine practitioner, Joel Magsaysay is performing bee venom therapy at his farm outside Manila. He's hoping the sting will start healing his patients damaged nerves, just like it healed him after a stroke that left the right side of his body paralyzed 12 years ago. He says proteins found in bee venom awakened the nerves in his torso and limbs and restored his muscle movement. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BEE STING THERAPIST JOEL MAGSAYSAY, SAYING: "One protein causes pain -- that's good because that forces your synapses to connect, and hardwires again your nervous system up to your brain. It has another protein that expands your veins and arteries so that your blood pressure drops, and circulation is enhanced in the bee sting site. And all the other proteins excite your immune system so it's boosted." Client Catherine Godinez has an enlarged thyroid. She says that even though the pain was hard to take at first, she believes the sting therapy will help her. (SOUNDBITE) (Filipino) CATHERINE GODINEZ, WHO SUFFERS FROM ENLARGED THYROID, SAYING: "I've tried medicines. Now I want to try this natural treatment. Why not, if it will be effective for me? Anyway, they say a lot of people get cured." Retired air force colonel Clyde Valencia suffered a stroke 10 years back. He's tried mainstream and alternative therapies to treat his paralysis and has now come to Magsaysay for help. (SOUNDBITE) (English) STROKE SURVIVOR, RETIRED AIR FORCE COLONEL CLYDE VALENCIA, SAYING: "After one hour, I feel slight improvement when walking." The farm keeps 200 bee colonies, but not every treatment is a success. Bee stings can cause life-threatening allergic side-effects. Magsaysay is not a doctor and he is quick to point out that bee venom therapy can't replace Western medicine, but rather enhances its effects by jolting the body into action. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BEE STING THERAPIST JOEL MAGSAYSAY, SAYING: "Western medicine saved my life, Eastern medicine healed me." Magsaysay says he will continue treating people with his bees. He says the stings may hurt, but the results are sweeter than honey. Tara Cleary, Reuters.