We all know that bee stings are incredibly painful and best avoided. But Ingrid Watt subjects herself to 30 every week in a bizarre bid to beat the life-threatening Lyme disease.

In a treatment most would regard as terrifying, husband Darren holds each of the bees to her back with a tweezer until they sting her.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday he makes sure ten of the bees, ordered online from a postal supplier, deliver their burning venom - leaving the stings embedded in her skin for 20 minutes for good measure, reports Daily Mail.

Strange as it sounds, Ingrid, 36, believes the venom is bringing the disease under control - something conventional medicines have failed to do.

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She insists the pain is worth it, as she feels better now than she has in years.

"I thought at the start there was no way I'd ever get to the ten stings because it was really painful. But when you feel the benefits you feel it's worth doing," she said.

"Bee sting venom is not for everyone, but for me it has been amazing. Hopefully in two more years I will be completely better."

Ingrid, of Inverness in the Scottish Highlands, believes that she contracted Lyme disease as a teenager while helping out with lambing in the Orkneys.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is spread to humans by ticks. Spotted quickly, it is treatable with antibiotics. But if left undetected it can trigger immune system, heart and memory problems.

For some, it can even be fatal. Blood tests to spot the infection are often inconclusive.
Ingrid didn't know she had the disease when she developed a series of apparently unrelated health problems, including excruciating pain, extreme fatigue and mental confusion.

Doctors struggled to identify a cause. She later suffered 39 painful bouts of shingles and was forced to sell her successful dog-walking business.

Eventually she concluded that she was suffering from Lyme disease and took courses of conventional antibiotics, but these failed to work.

Then Ingrid read a report about an American woman with the disease who was stung by a swarm of bees.

She thought the attack would kill her - but instead she started to feel better. Three years later, blood tests showed that she was cured.

Ingrid decided to give bees a go, starting a year ago with two stings, three times a week.

"Within two weeks I had more energy and my cognitive functions had improved," she said. "It's the best painkiller I've ever had."

Ingrid said she was aware that the bees, which she orders at £12.50 for 50, died after delivering their sting and wanted to set up hives after recovering fully to 'give something back'.

However, experts last night urged caution. Dr Sandra Pearson, medical director of charity Lyme Disease Action, said: "There are anecdotal reports from those saying they are trying bee venom therapy and it improves their symptoms.

"But it's important to remember no treatment, even a natural therapy, is without side effects. In this case, one of those could be anaphylaxis, which for some people can be severe."

Ouch! But is it nature's answer to botox?

Bee venom has been used for thousands of years as a medicine. Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates used it to treat arthritis, while Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder believed it was a cure for baldness.

It has been touted as a treatment for gout, while more recently several celebrities have extolled it as nature's answer to Botox.

Actress and lifestyle guru Gwyneth Paltrow believes being stung on the jawline helped tighten her skin. 'It's actually pretty incredible if you research it,' she said. 'But, man, it's painful.'

As far as Lyme disease is concerned, the active compound in the sting is thought to be melittin. This is the peptide - a string of amino acids - that causes the intense burning sensation.

Some scientists, citing lab tests, believe melittin is highly effective at killing the Borrelia bacteria that cause Lyme disease.

But there is scant evidence it does this in the body and many doctors fear bee venom is nothing more than a 'quack' cure.