The pain of a bee sting can really ruin your day. While they're generally harmless (assuming you aren't allergic) they can be an extreme nuisance, and finding ways to relieve the pain quickly becomes the only thing on your mind.
Fortunately, bee stings are fairly common, and so there are plenty of ways to treat them. Topical creams and pills are the most common, and most include some form of painkiller.
Some of the topical creams include lidocain, while many people find that simple anti inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen are very effective for bee stings.
In addition to those medication, antihistamines can relive the redness, itchiness, and swelling that often accompany bee stings. So, a combination of antihistamines and anti inflammatory medicine is often sufficient to treat bee stings.
The downside is that these medications have side effects. Anti inflammatory medicines, taken in large, frequent doses, can have a negative effect on the liver, while antihistamine medications can cause drowsiness.
If you prefer to avoid these side effects, you may want to try using essential oils to treat your bee stings.
Why Bee Stings are Painful
When a bee stings you, it releases a chemical called melittin that triggers your pain receptors and causes a strong burning sensation. What's worse, a bee's stinger is barbed, so when the bee flies away the stinger and venom gland remain lodged in your skin.
That venom gland will continue to pump more venom into your body for a while, which makes the sting even worse. As the pain receptors around the sting site are flooded with venom, your body sends fluids to the sting site to flush the venom out. This causes redness, swelling, and itching around the site of the sting.
So, part of the pain is caused by the bee's venom attacking your pain receptors, and part of it is caused by your own immune systems response to the venom. When your body senses something foreign in its system, like bee venom, it makes a massive effort to remove it.
Blood and other bodily fluids will flood the area, causing redness, a hot sensation, and a lot of swelling. The area will also be flooded with white blood cells, histamines, and other specialized immune cells.
Basically, your body is doing everything it can to prevent an infection or the spread of a toxin. This is what inflammation is- swelling and pain resulting from a build up of fluids and immune cells as your body tries to prevent further damage.
Inflammation can be a good thing. It is, after all, the body's natural response to the threat of disease and toxins, and it's very effective. It's also very uncomfortable, and for something like a bee sting it's usually overkill.
Much of the pain you experience in a bee sting is the result of inflammation, and reducing that inflammation will relieve the pain without hindering your body's ability to recover from the sting.
How Bee Stings are Treated
There are countless remedies for bee stings. Applying toothpaste or a past made of baking soda and water can help by neutralizing the venom. Meat tenderizer can also help; there's an enzyme in it, derived from the papaya fruit, that breaks down the venom.
And, of course, antihistamine and anti inflammatory medications are also used with good results, although they do have side effects.
It's important to note that these medications do not neutralize the venom, they relieve the symptoms caused by your body's immune response to the venom. The same will be true for any essential oils that you use. They can replace the medications, but they won't neutralize the venom.
So, with any treatment you choose, you'll want to use something like baking soda, toothpaste, or meat tenderizer to neutralize the venom, and something to treat the swelling and inflammation.
Of course, first you'll want to use a fingernail or a credit card to remove the stinger to minimize the amount of venom that gets pumped into your body.
Best Essential Oils for Bee Stings
Many essential oils have strong anti inflammatory and antihistamine qualities, which makes them ideal for use in conjunction with a venom-neutralizing substance like baking soda to treat a bee sting. That last part is important; without using a venom-neutralizing substance you won't experience full pain relief, and this is often the reason people think essential oils aren't effective on bee stings. Here are the best essential oils to use if you get stung.
Lavender oil is one of the best anti inflammatories you can use. In fact, lavender is one of the best essential oils you can buy, period. It's list of medicinal uses seems infinite. Since it's an anti inflammatory, antiseptic, insecticidal, and soothing oil, it really can be used for almost anything. It relieves stress and helps treat anxiety and depression. It can help keep wounds clear of infection. And, most importantly for this article, it's a very powerful pain reliever.
One of the best reasons to buy lavender oil is that all of these claims are backed up my medical research. Lavender is one of the most heavily studied essential oils, and nearly every medicinal use for it has been verified and supported by that research.
Even if you decide not to use essential oils for your bee sting, you should probably pick up a bottle of lavender oil just because it has so many other uses. When you buy your oil, make sure you're buying the right stuff, because not all essential oils are created equal.
Look for an oil that's sourced from high-quality lavender, steam-distilled, and bottled without any additives. This oil checks all of those boxes, so you can be confident that you're getting a product that's pure and potent.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil, like lavender, is really useful stuff. It's most well-known uses are in cosmetics and cleansers, where it's refreshing scent, and antibacterial and anti fungal properties make it popular in shampoos, soaps, and household cleaners. It's also said to rejuvenate the skin, boost the immune system, and serve as a stimulant.
A bee sting is a puncture wound, and bees, like all living things, have bacteria living on them. Applying an antiseptic like tea tree oil is a wise choice, because otherwise an infection is possible.
In addition to cleaning the wound, tea tree oil may help relieve the pain. It isn't clear why this might be, as tea tree oil isn't known for its anti inflammatory or pain relieving properties.
People report that it works, though, so it's likely that something is going on that we don't understand fully. It may also be that the bacteria introduced to the wound from the bee cause minor infections that contribute to the pain, and by killing them the tea tree oil is eliminating one source of the pain.
This tea tree oil comes from China, where they've been growing tea for centuries and have perfected the art. It's steam distilled for purity, and it's bottled without any added ingredients.
Frankincense may well be the most ancient essential oil. It's been used throughout all of recorded history, and likely long before. Frankincense was the original incense, hence the name, and therefore the original aromatherapy.
It's long been believed to posses many medicinal qualities, and the smell of burning frankincense was so soothing to ancient peoples that they believed there must have been something divine about it, which led to its use in religious ceremonies all over the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.
Frankincense is deeply soothing and is one of the oldest treatments for stress and anxiety that we know of. It has strong antimicrobial properties, as well, leading to it's long history of use in cleaning and treating wounds.
One of it's most famous uses in the ancient world, however, was as a powerful pain killer. Frankincense is a very powerful anti inflammatory, and so it can relieve pain ranging from headaches to, yes, bee stings.
This frankincense comes in a roll on bottle, which makes it perfect for use on bee stings and other insect bites. To use it, you just apply it directly to the sting.
Cedarwood oil is usually used for its fragrance more than its medicinal properties, but that's a shame. Cedarwood has many powerful medicinal properties; it's a natural sedative, it reduces blood pressure and stress, it's an anti fungal, and it's a strong anti inflammatory.
In addition to helping reduce the redness and swelling of the bee sting, cedarwood oil may also help your relax- something that can be difficult in the aftermath of a sting. This cedarwood oil is sourced in Morocco, steam-distilled to preserve the potency of the oil, and bottled without any additional ingredients.
Basil oil is one of the most versatile essential oils you can buy. It treats depression, reduces stress, relieves nausea, and improves circulation. It's a very effective, all natural pain reliever, too. It's also a natural antibacterial and antiviral. That means that, in addition to relieving pain, it can help to prevent infection in the wound.
Basil oil has been used as medicine for a long time, and so it's a very trustworthy treatment. This basil oil is sourced in India, steam-distilled for quality, and then bottled pure and unadulterated.
How to Treat Bee Stings with Essential Oils
The most popular way to use essential oils is aromatherapy. In fact, most of the time when a medical study confirms the benefits of an essential oil, aromatherapy was the delivery method for the oil.
This surprises many people, because it doesn't seem like smelling an oil would be very effective. Remember, though, that when you inhale a substance, it enters your bloodstream directly. This results in a rapid and potent medicinal effect.
Still, for bee stings, aromatherapy may not prove to be the best way to use essential oils. A topical application, applying the oil directly to the sting, is likely the best way to use them. Of course, essential oils alone are not sufficient to fully treat a bee sting.
Remember that there are two sources of pain in a bee sting- the venom itself and the swelling and inflammation caused by your body's immune system. Essential oils can reduce the inflammation, but they won't neutralize the venom.
Baking soda can neutralize the venom, and so one of the best ways to treat a bee sting with essential oils is to combine baking soda and an essential oil of your choice.
To do this, sprinkle a few drops of your preferred oil onto the baking soda, and then make a paste of out the baking soda and water and apply it to the bee sting. This way you'll be simultaneously treating both causes of pain.
If you buy a roll on essential oil, you can also apply that to the sting and then apply a paste of baking soda and water on top of that. Toothpaste and meat tenderizer are also effective at neutralizing the venom, and so adding the oil to the toothpaste, or to a paste of meat tenderizer and water, are also great ways to treat a bee sting.
Essential oils can prove to be one of the best and safest ways of treating bee stings. They can effectively reduce the inflammation that causes much of the pain of the bee sting without causing the sorts of side effects that come with many of the pharmaceutical drugs you could take to get the same effects.
Some people may report feeling no benefit from essential oils on bee stings, but it's likely that these people didn't use them in conjunction with a venom-neutralizing treatment.
It's important to remember that to experience full pain relief you will need both an essential oil and something to neutralize the venom, such as baking soda or meat tenderizer. As long as you use both of these to treat the bee sting, you will feel relief.
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