Raw onion eases pain of sting

Q. My daughter was pulling weeds and vines from around a tree when something flew up and stung her. I remembered reading about raw onion for stings. It seemed to help immediately. Thank you for writing about this!

A. We have heard from numerous readers who have applied raw onion to a bee or wasp sting and gotten relief. Decades ago, we spoke with Dr. Eric Block of the State University of New York. This world-renowned chemist told us that fresh-cut onions have ingredients that can break down the chemical in insect venom that causes pain and inflammation.

Not all stings respond to onion, although it seems to work pretty well on bee and wasp stings. A serious sting reaction requires immediate medical attention, since sting allergies can be deadly.

Q. I go to an integrative oncologist to maintain a durable remission against prostate cancer. He recommended turmeric and blackseed oil. I also take aspirin for both its anti-cancer activity and its heart attack protection. I have read that this combination might increase my risk for bleeding. Is there any credibility to this concern?

A. Aspirin has anti-platelet activity, which is why doctors may recommend that high-risk heart patients take low-dose aspirin. It can inhibit blood clots, but it may make some people more susceptible to bleeding.

The active component of turmeric, curcumin, also has anticlotting activity (Journal of Cellular Physiology, June 2018). We have received reports from readers who found that adding turmeric or curcumin to their anticoagulant regimen changed their INR values. (INR is a measurement of blood anticoagulation.) Some people found that they bled far more easily.

With respect to blackseed oil (Nigella sativa), laboratory tests demonstrate that its active ingredient, thymoquinone, “had minimal effects on normal blood coagulation” (International Journal of Molecular Sciences, March 30, 2016). On the other hand, it can reverse cancer-associated blood clots, and the scientists suggest that thymoquinone might be useful “as a preventative anticoagulant and/or as a supplement to existing chemotherapies and anticoagulant therapies.” We suspect that this combination might increase your risk for bleeding, although it also could be helpful against certain types of cancer.

Q. Please tell us some foods that can alleviate high blood pressure. I know about celery, beets and pomegranate juice. Are there others?

A. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension) is well-established as a way to lower blood pressure. This diet is rich in vegetables, fruit, low-fat dairy products and whole grains. Other foods that may be beneficial for hypertension include dark chocolate, purple grape juice, garlic, green tea and turmeric.

Foods that are high in magnesium and potassium also may help. They include almonds, artichokes, asparagus, bananas, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cashews, halibut, soybeans and spinach, among others.

Do not forget that regular exercise and weight loss are powerful tools for blood pressure control. Relaxation techniques and slow-breathing exercises also can be helpful.

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