Health News

Sliced onion on wasp sting eases pain and swelling

Q: I tried your onion remedy on wasp stings. I had three stings: two on my upper lip and one on my hand.

I rubbed cut onion on my lip. Since I had two stings there, it hurt more initially.

The lip stings had hardly any swelling and only slight discomfort later in the day, but my hand became quite swollen and was very painful.

The lip stings were totally gone in about two days, but the one on my hand took over a week to resolve. To me, this underscores the value of putting a cut onion on a sting. Thanks for sharing remedies like this.

A: We have heard from many people who have found that putting a sliced onion on a bee or wasp sting eased the pain and prevented swelling. Years ago, onion chemist Eric Block, Ph.D., told us that onions have enzymes that can help break down the compounds in venom that cause inflammation.

Q: I have arthritis in my left knee. My last X-ray three weeks ago showed bone on bone, but I have had little discomfort.

I am planning to travel internationally this summer and will do a lot of walking. I am having a cortisone shot in my knee next week in preparation; however, I would like to take something with me in case all the walking causes swelling and/or pain.

I have good walking shoes and a trekking stick, but do not want to hold up the group if I have pain. Do you have suggestions of a nondrug remedy for pain/swelling?

A: You might consider boswellia or curcumin capsules to reduce inflammation. Curcumin, the active ingredient in the yellow spice turmeric, was helpful against arthritis in a mouse study (Arthritis Research and Therapy, June 3, 2016).

Many people like to use Certo or powdered plant pectin dissolved in grape juice. Unless you can purchase grape juice while traveling, this approach could be cumbersome. Cherry juice has the same drawback, but it is possible to buy tart cherry extract in pill form or as a fruit bar.

Q: Almost three years ago, I was bothered with allergies and took allergy medicines every day. Then I started using a neti pot with a saline solution for the entire allergy season.

Now I do not take any allergy medicines. I only have to use the neti pot when I get congested. I am SO glad to cut my ties to allergy medicines. I’ve thought: Why WOULD there be any studies to combat allergies using saline irrigation when drug companies make bank on sales?

A: You are right that few drug companies would underwrite research on saline solution. There have been a few studies on saline irrigation for allergies, though. In one pilot study, 25 youngsters with runny nose year-round (perennial allergic rhinitis) had fewer symptoms after using saline nasal spray for three weeks (Journal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents, January-March 2016).

A review of several earlier studies notes that nasal irrigation with saline can be helpful in cases of chronic sinus irritation (Current Allergy and Asthma Reports, April 2013).

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Email them via Their newest book is“Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”