PEOPLE’S PHARMACY Got stung by a bee. And it hurt for 20 minutes

By Joe Graedon, Teresa Graedon

Q: I love wasps, bee, mud daubers and anything else that flies and buzzes. When I was reaching for a log, I accidentally trapped one between my finger and a falling log. It stung me and caused excruciating pain. I found your Web site. A cut onion on the sting worked in 20 minutes to stop the swelling and ease the pain.

A: We checked with onion chemist Dr. Eric Block of the State University of New York at Albany. He agreed that a fresh-cut onion might ease the pain of an insect sting because an ingredient in onions breaks down the chemicals responsible for inflammation and discomfort. Other readers have used fresh onion juice to soothe the pain from a minor kitchen burn.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist and Teresa Graedon is an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition. They can be reached at

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