If you drive down one quiet country road in Warren Ohio, you'll probably notice The Hive. Inside, as you would expect, you'd find bees.
But what you might not expect to see is a man intentionally stinging people with those bees.
Karen McGhee, 59, said when she tells people about her bee sting therapy, she gets the same reaction, "'Ah, you're crazy! Why do you want to do that?'"
For McGhee, the answer is simple. She said the bee venom alleviates her pain and weakness from multiple sclerosis.
If I couldn't do the bees, I'd probably be maybe in a wheelchair, not being able to walk very well," McGhee said.
Floyd Alexander has been stinging McGhee twice a week for five years now. He said he's stung more than 2,000 people since he started offering this therapy about 15 years ago.
Currently, he asks for $35 a session.
"When you first come here, I'm gonna give you a total of six stings max so that we can test the immune system and make sure it is apropos to continue stinging you," Alexander said.
Alexander, and other apitherapists like him, have said the bee venom stimulates the immune system and can improve Multiple Sclerosis patients' mobility. He said the ancient practice can even treat things like chronic pain and wounds.
"If you have arthritis, once you do it, I won't see you anymore," Alexander said.
But the medical community prefers hard clinical evidence over what's known as anecdotal or testimonial. This issue is so controversial, NewsChannel5 had a hard time finding a local doctor to even talk about it on camera, but they did find one at University Hospitals.
Neurologist Michael Devereaux said he finds bee sting therapy troubling, and sad.
Health reporter Alicia Booth asked him if he thinks there's any value to it at all.
In fact, Devereaux said the practice can be dangerous if patients discontinue treatment medically proven to be effective.
"If they're stopping their treatment, they're hurting themselves and there's just no scientific validation that it does any good," Devereaux said.
Thirty-one-year-old Candy Kurtz disagreed.
Kurtz was diagnosed with M.S. six years ago and said the medicine never did anything for her. But, bee sting therapy does.
"It might sound crazy, but (it) feels good," Kurtz said.
Kurtz is raising two young children, one with special needs. She said Alexander's therapy helps her ability to care for them.
Kurtz said, "I look forward to every week coming."
Alexander insists his clients stop their M.S. medication for at least a month before getting stung.
"People who do this will get sick through taking the medication and doing the bee stings," Alexander said.
He told NewsChannel5 he's been stung more than 500,000 times.
Alexander said he was diagnosed with M.S. in 1982, has never taken medicine and is still in good health today.
He believes in what he does, even though the medical community as a whole, does not.
"If this does not work for you, you're not human, because mother nature rules," Alexander said.
It's important to keep in mind that some people are allergic to bee venom and a bee sting can be fatal for them.
Alexander said he keeps an Epi-pen on hand just in case someone goes into anaphylactic shock
The medical efficacy of bee hive product treatments (Apitherapy) has not been approved by many countries yet.
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The bee products (especially bee venom) may cause an allergic reaction in some individuals. The information given here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be interpreted or used for self diagnosis or self medication. In any case, seek the advice of a licensed health practitioner who is qualified to make such diagnoses and recommendations for treatment.
Warning: Exposure to bee venom may cause asthma and/or a life threatening allergic reactions!