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Meat Tenderizer for Pain of Sting

Q. I got stung by a red wasp yesterday and it felt like someone jabbed me with a hot poker. I’d forgotten how bad the pain from a wasp sting could be!

I remember my child’s pediatrician telling me to keep meat tenderizer in a first aid kit for stings. I found some tenderizer and added water to make a paste. As soon as I daubed it on, it took away that intense pain almost instantly. I don’t think it helped the swelling but it really helped the pain.

Today the sting site is bright red and very swollen, about the size of a tennis ball. It is also very itchy and sore. I’ll try putting cut onion on it when I get home.

A. Meat tenderizer contains papain, an enzyme from the papaya that helps break down protein. Doctors have recommended applying it to stings for years so that the papain can break down the venom.

Your reaction sounds exceptionally severe. It is unlikely that a cut onion will work so long after the sting. You should discuss your reaction with your physician in case you are becoming allergic to wasp stings.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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