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!

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  1. Charlie

    How much time elapses before an ambulance can arrive or during transit by a parent to a hospital? If the effects can be ameliorated by onion, people should still not use it due to being in awe of unreasonable medical monopolies? What if the use of the onion made the difference to avoid fatality? You’re saying to not use onion.

  2. Kay

    What could help someone who is going through perimenopause, after her hysterectomy and has numerous conditions, especially affecting her thyroid. She was diagnosed with having 2 nodules (non-cancerous), but is affecting her hormones. Also, blood tests show no hypo or hyperthyroidism. Is there anything old there to help her condition? She is in her late 40s.

  3. 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!

  4. LJL

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

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