Q. When my brother was young he took a drink from a bottle of pop not realizing there was a wasp inside the bottle. It stung him far down his throat, which quickly began swelling up.

We had a general store at the time. My dad grabbed a raw onion and made my brother eat it. Luckily, the swelling went down almost immediately. I think it probably saved his life, as his throat was closing up. He always loved raw onion after that.

A. Such an emergency requires immediate medical attention rather than a home remedy. That said, we are glad eating a raw onion counteracted the swelling from the sting.

Freshly cut onion has been used to soothe bee or wasp stings for a long time. According to one reader, Swiss farmers have been using this remedy for centuries. A study of 301 Turkish beekeepers found that two-thirds use cut onion or garlic on stings (International Forum of Allergy and Rhinology, July, 2014).

Years ago, world-renowned onion chemist Eric Block, PhD, told us the enzymes in fresh-cut onion break down the inflammatory compounds in a sting. We do hope no one else will need to use this remedy for the same purpose your brother did!

Join Over 56,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

Each week we send two free email newsletters with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies and a preview of our award-winning radio show. Join our mailing list and get the information you need to make confident choices about your health.

  1. Susie Wilson

    I use onions on mosquito bites and sometimes a dab of mustard. Onions must have some kind of wonderful properties because they work on a lot of insect bite reactions!

  2. LJL

    I wonder if an onion would work for a jellyfish sting?

What Do You Think?

Share your thoughts with others, but be mindful of protecting your own and others' privacy. Not all comments will be posted. Advice from web visitors is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. In posting a comment, you agree to our commenting policy and website terms and conditions.