The People's Perspective on Medicine

Baking Soda Banishes Pain From Sting

Baking soda and vinegar eased the pain of an insect sting.

Q. A wasp stung me today on the inside of my thumb. I called NHS Direct for advice. Then I logged onto your website and found the method of bicarbonated soda and vinegar. It worked really well! Ten minutes after I first applied it, the pain was nearly gone.

A. American readers may not know that Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) provides self-care advice by telephone, digital TV and on the Web. We are delighted that making a paste of baking soda and vinegar worked for you. Many other readers have found this home remedy eases the pain of bee or wasp stings.

Other remedies for stings include applying the freshly cut surface of an onion or making a paste of meat tenderizer (containing papain) mixed with water or vinegar. Here is just one story from a visitor to this website:

“Putting a slice of onion on a sting has always been the treatment of choice for me since childhood. Once I was hiking with a group and one of the hikers was stung over 100 times over his body but particularly on his head. We were close to camp so I ran and sliced an onion and wrapped the slices onto his head and body with a roll of gauze and he never swelled or had any pain.” E.M.

A severe reaction to a sting requires emergency medical treatment. Doctors will often prescribe an EpiPen for a person who has suffered anaphylactic shock in response to a sting. The idea is to keep this rescue medication (self-injected epinephrine) close at hand for emergency use.

Charles took another course of action:

“I had a horrible allergic reaction to a yellow jacket sting. Rather than carry an EpiPen on me the rest of my life, I took a series of desensitization shots. While it’s necessary to take them over a long period of time, I now no longer worry. I was stung again with no problem.”

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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Vinegar and baking soda are opposites. They are the recipe for science fair volcanoes. Baking soda does not need vinegar to be useful. Vinegar only reduces the efficacy of the baking soda, though you may get some effect from just the vinegar alone. Mixing the soda and vinegar neutralizes both ingredients. Use baking soda and water, just enough to make a paste. Keep the vinegar for sunburns (apple cider is the common one, haven’t used red or white, not sure of their efficacy).

I know it! I thought the same thing for years. Then when I studied different varieties of vinegar and the ph they develop once in the body, I realized something rather fascinating ~ to me.

Most vinegar is made from fruit, herb or grain and is comprised mostly of acetic acid (named after the acetobacter found on the tiny leetle feet of fruit flies) and other acids. These acids go hand-in-hand with phenolic compounds found in the various fruit/grain/herbs, and have become famous for the why in drinking wine every day.

When we consume vinegar in diluted form whether gastrointestinally or via skin, because it is very porous, we are flooding ourselves with an elixir of antioxidant anti-inflammatories which will help our immune systems tackle the onslaught of venom from these leeetle beasties. Really we should eat/drink and soak in ascorbic acid, wild grapes, rose hip and green teas and vinegar when we have bee stings… actually all the time. Just bee sure to dilute that vinegar, so you don’t erode your esophagus, and use 3-4 cups in a long (hour or more) bath.

Here’s some stuff to quantify this distillation: (; wink-wink;)
You’ll have to copy/paste into your browsers address bar.
Note tables 1-4 and what follows them.

Note: apoptosis is the programmed life expectancy and death of a cell, something that gets switched off during carcinogenesis, making the cell reproduce adinfinitum, thus forming a tumor.

There’s more! You can take some biology classes at your local college or google scholarly articles on the subject.
…. so, Here’s to your next Vinegar Water! =]

I got stung today by who knows what while taking a walk (in Florida). First time I’ve ever been stung in my life. I googled sting remedies, and then remembered my mom using baking soda once. I tried the baking soda with vinegar and it seems to be mostly working, though I’m still a tad itchy, but most of the pain is gone. The vinegar probably acts as a cleansing agent, though I have heard that you can use the baking soda by itself.

My mother grew up in the early 1900s on a small hollow farm at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains, eastern Kentucky, USA. In such isolation, most health problems and injuries were treated using home remedies. She was taught to use vinegar and baking soda on stings, and used this paste on my infant daughter when bee-stung. It worked.

I always heard to cover the hole with baking soda, mud, tobacco. My grandfather said to cover the hole because the more the sting is open to air it swells and is painful. I have a friend that recently got stung by a Wasp and she didn’t have any baking soda and used New Skin. It worked real well, she never had any swelling. I told her to cover the hole and she did. Was my grandfather’s advice correct?

I was stung on my palm about an hour ago, by a wasp (first wasp sting ever.) I immediately put a baking soda and water mix on the effected area… about the size of a quarter. Then, I took a Benedryl Tab, because I react with severe itching to insect bites of all kinds. My hand throbbed and was a tad stingy/itchy after about a 1/2 hour… nothing serious but definitely bugging me. Then, I found this website and read about adding vinegar. I added a couple drops to the drying baking soda and voila… the irritation disappeared almost immediately. Perhaps it was the Benedryl kicking in? But, the timing, leads me to believe the bubbling chemical reaction of the vinegar, helped speed up the neutralizing effect.
My pain and irritation is all but gone and I can type without a problem. The baking soda poultice is now removed, and I’m good to go. I vote for the remedy with vinegar plus baking soda… but that’s just my personal opinion, you may be different… then there’s the Benedryl to factor in, also…

I live in SE Virginia, and so do lots of ticks. I have had three bites so far this year; the VA put me on a preventative anti-biotic course against Lyme disease. But the itching is unbearable! Bought three OTC anti-itch remedies; none was very effective. And then I remembered the Graedons’ Vinegar/Soda paste, and VOILA! It stops the itching for several hours. And it’s cheap!

Baking soda works very well on other insect bites, too. We also live in the south, and deal with the constant presence of mosquitoes throughout the summer months, in spite of the wonders of modern insect repellants. My kids and I are mildly allergic to them, and get big itchy welts from the bites that often come back intermittently over several days. We’ve found that a paste of baking soda and water, applied as quickly as possible after a mosquito bite, will almost totally remove the itch and prevent the welt and recurrent “itchiness” of the bite.

re: baking soda for bee/wasp stings.
Growing up in the south meant getting stung.
Mama always made a paste of baking soda and water; it worked just fine without vinegar. We used apple cider vinegar on sunburns. Yes, daddy would take a sponge soaked with apple cider vinegar and gently apply it to our sunburned backs, etc. He used to say that it would burn for a little while, then we would feel much better. He was right! we seldom even peeled; (note: our parents were protective of our being in the sun during the “danger hours”, but occasionally we did get burned.) Both remedies, baking soda for stings, and vinegar for sunburns worked great. Old timey, but they worked.

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