Q: I read about using a sliced onion on a bee sting or wasp sting. I tried this trick after a wasp got me on my little finger.

I cut an onion and put it on the stung spot. It felt a little better, but I wanted faster relief. I chopped the onion into small pieces and put some in my garlic press. I squeezed the juice into a small bowl, soaked a gauze pad with it and applied it to my finger. Right away the pain was gone, and the swelling was much reduced.

A: More than 30 years ago, a reader shared this story about treating a yellow-jacket sting: “A friend told me to cut an onion and press the cut side to the sting, holding it there at least 10 minutes. I tried it the last time I got stung, and miracle of miracles, it really worked. I thought your other readers would like to know about this.”

Since then, we have heard from many other people that a fresh-cut onion can ease the pain of a sting. Your innovation to use onion juice is an interesting adaptation.

Anyone who is allergic to stings should use an epinephrine autoinjector or seek emergency medical attention!

Q: About four years ago, one of my doctors told me that I would be on acid-blocking drugs for the rest of my life. I’d had trouble with acid reflux for about 10 years by that time.


This expert couldn’t tell me what causes acid reflux, just that the medicine would control it. At that point, I started checking into the causes of my problem. After doing my own research, I figured out how to change my eating habits and get control of the reflux. I was able to quit taking the drug after I had been on it for three months.

I have had good success over the past few years with my revised diet. Now that I am fasting regularly, acid reflux is seldom an annoyance.

A: Thank you for sharing your success story. Taiwanese scientists conducted a small crossover study in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease and found that high-carbohydrate diets make the reflux worse (Journal of the Formosan Medical Association, November 2018). This connection was first reported in 2006 (Digestive Diseases and Sciences, August 2006), but not all gastroenterologists are aware of the link. Cutting back on sugar might be especially helpful (European Surgery, December 2017).

We appreciate your observation on intermittent fasting. Researchers don’t appear to have studied this very much, but perhaps others will want to try it for their reflux symptoms.

Q: I find turmeric powder mixed in a morning drink relieves my aches and pains very well. As a result, I very rarely need to take an NSAID pain reliever like ibuprofen.

A: Turmeric, the yellow spice that gives curry and yellow mustard their characteristic color, has a reputation for anti-inflammatory activity. A review of eight randomized controlled trials suggests that it can be helpful in alleviating arthritis pain (Journal of Medicinal Food, August 2016). A pilot study found that a proprietary formulation of turmeric (Longvida) was effective and safe for knee pain due to osteoarthritis (Journal of Inflammation Research, June 5, 2019).

We discuss turmeric, boswellia and other botanical treatments in our eGuide to Alternatives for Arthritis. This online resource may be accessed at peoplespharmacy.com.