portueguese man o' war jellyfish washed up at the beach

The meat tenderizer trick was our very first home remedy in the original edition of The People’s Pharmacy®.* We stumbled across it in the Journal of the American Medical Association.**
Dr. Harry L. Arnold of the American Health Institute suggested mixing 1/4 teaspoon of tenderizer with 1 teaspoon of water to make a paste. Smearing this on a bee or wasp sting relieves the pain.
A variation was suggested by a lifeguard in Hawaii who had to deal with insect and jellyfish stings. He used a paste of meat tenderizer and vinegar and claimed it was magical.
* Graedon, Joe. The People’s Pharmacy®. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1976; p. 54.
** Arnold, [Harry L.] “Immediate Treatment of Insect Stings.” JAMA 1972; 220:585.

Get The Graedons' Favorite Home Remedies Health Guide for FREE

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

  1. Patti

    We always used baking soda & water paste for bites & bee stings. It didn’t work for a wasp sting just recently though.

  2. Brian M

    A paste made of meat tenderizer and neosporin is the ultimate fix for minor insect bites.

  3. Paula

    I got stung by a bee on the bottom side of my toe, and it immediately began to swell and burn. I applied a paste of meat tenderizer to it and the pain and swelling disappeared in about five minutes.

  4. ejo

    I was stung while swimming in hawaii around the face, neck and arms. I made it to shore in fear of going into shock, and ran to the store and put the meat tenderizer directly on my face. The intense burning dropped immediately and I went to work a few hours later. The only evidence were some reddish marks. SO IT REALLY WORKED.

  5. PA

    I have a minor allergic reaction to spider bites, and swell up really big when I get bit by one. It ends up being itchy, extremely swollen, and very painful. My aunt who is a nurse suggested the meat tenderizer. It helps a lot and both the pain and the itch go away. I use it every time. I just mix it with water, but may try it with vinegar next time.

  6. WV Woman

    For STINGS and fly bites (or bites from any of these pests) put a penny over the bite or sting and tape it on with scotch tape or a bandaid. Pull out any stinger first. The pain is gone in no time and it will soon be back to normal.
    Another hint: Skin So Soft by Avon, rubbed on bare skin, tends to keep the flies from biting – – until I start to sweat then they swarm on me like I’m dessert.

  7. Peggy

    Vicks Vapor rub is also good for bites and stings. No tenderizer in kitchen, get vicks and apply,no rubbing.

  8. HP

    My grandfather told me to try soaking my hand in Epsom salt after I was stung by a bee and had a lot of pain and swelling. I could not even close my hand. I tried it and it relieved all of the pain and swelling. I have also been stung and know that a paste of wet Epsom salt works just as well.

  9. steve

    I grew up on the chesapeake bay. We would swin in the bay every summer as kids and we all got stung by jelly fish. I guess that’s why the people there are so tough. It’s weird–you went swimming and got stung, just a part of life there. You didn’t cry to your mama, just put some meat tenderizer on it and you started the same routine up the next day.

  10. Mary

    When my children have gotten stung by a bee or wasp, I crush an aspirn, wet the sting area and pat on the crushed aspirin and let it sit there for a few minutes. No swelling, no pain, no reaction. Good as new. I always carry aspirins with me. It has come in handy many times when at a soccer game for my kids and someone gets stung by a bee or wasp. Works every time.

  11. Lexi

    I just got an ant bite yesterday. I called my Mother and she suggested the meat tenderizer. It works so well, the pain is just about gone.

  12. Laural Radmore-Savova

    I grew up in Texas, where fire ants are a daily nuisance. My mother always kept meat tenderizer on hand and would treat our ant bites with it. She would make a cold compress by wetting a paper towel, sprinkling meat tenderizer on it, and placing the cool, wet towel on our bite with the meat tenderizer down. This always reduced the swelling, itching, and burning.

  13. Susannah Fox

    My grandmother lived on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay and always kept a supply of meat tenderizer at hand to neutralize the inevitable jellyfish stings we all got in August. She also used baking soda sometimes, I think.

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Your cart

Shipping and discount codes are added at checkout.