How can vinegar attenuate the pain of a bee sting? (acid base reaction)

In summary, the vinegar may help to reduce the pain of a nettle sting. However, the relief is likely due to the placebo effect.f
  • #1
Hello, I have been working on this subject but I am not sure how to deal with it. I am looking to prove how can vinegar attenuate the pain of a bee sting.

I have chosen a specific vinegar that is of 6° and 50 ml and Know the molecular weight of acetic acid is 60g/mol.

The bee sting contains a basic liquid which major component that we will be using for the equation of reaction is C131H229N39O31. How can I now prove that the vinegar helps to neutralise the ph of the venom?

Thank you!
  • #2

It doesn't say anything about the structure, which is the most important thing here.
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  • #3
Vinegar is said to have anti-bacterial properties, and this might reduce the problem in the long term.
Vinegar is used on wasp stings which are more alkaline than vinegar, so it is going to neutralise that.
But so many people believe vineger cures almost everything, even if when tested it often doesn't. I followed a few links to the mayoclinic site and similar medical advice sites, and they didn't mention using vinegar for bee stings.

C131H229N39O31, when googled, brings up Melittin, which is a peptide and the main component of bee venom. While an acid can cleave a peptide, the concentration of CH3COOH in vinegar is so low, I can't see that happening.
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  • #4
C131H229N39O31, when googled, brings up Melittin, which is a peptide and the main component of bee venom. While an acid can cleave a peptide, the concentration of CH3COOH in vinegar is so low, I can't see that happening.
An 1.0 M solution of acetic acid (60 g/liter), or about the strength of common vinegar, has an pH of 2.4. More than low enough to denature proteins.
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  • #5
Bee venom is injected into the skin. Vinegar on the outside of the skin isn't likely to do much, it's in the wrong place and not likely to be absorbed like medicated creams and such. Of course, no one would inject vinegar, that sounds horrific. The idea that you can "draw toxins out of your body" through the skin is just simplistic and wrong.
  • #6
This is what I found on reacting a strong acid with a protein or peptide, assuming I am allowed to post a link
"The protein is heated with 6 M hydrochloric acid for about 24 hours at 110°C. (6M hydrochloric acid is slightly more than semi-concentrated.)"
Then there's this - using boiling hydroiodic acid...
It also quotes the same conditions as the other link with HCl

Now this isn't my area of expertise but no reputable medical advice site I visited said bee stings should be treated with vinegar. And bee stings are a common problem, so I'd have thought if it worked, it would have been mentioned.

So being a scientist, I suggest the OP just does the experiment. Always the best way to find an answer.

He sticks both his hands into a bees' nest hitting out at many of them until they attack, until he has three or five stings on each hand. Then pours vinegar onto one hand's stings or wipes the hand with vinegar soaked cotton wool and does nothing to the other hand.
Wait ten minutes or so and check if the vinegar washed hand is noticably less painful than the control hand.

Anybody else available to take part in a short study?
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  • #8
My personal suggestion, based on personal experience (bee, wasp, and hornet stings), is to put an ice cube on the sting soon after getting stung.
It seems to improve things.

I may also have developed an immunity to the venom from previous stings.

My guess is that the cold reduces pain sensing (at least while cold) and also reduces inflammation.
Inflammation is what causes itching (a longer term problem).
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  • #9
Can I semi hijack this thread if it has been largely answered?

I have a bee in my bonnet about nettle stings and dock leaves.

I have read recently (sorry no source I can provide) that dock ,to the extent that it is effective in alleviating the discomfort of nettle stings is so as a placebo.

This does not ,of course stop me from availing of the "remedy" since I am constantly stinging my hands and legs in the long grass of the garden and there is nearly always a dock close by .

Does anyone have an idea as to whether this is indeed just the placebo effect at work or is there anything "geuinely" medicinal in the application?

To put you a little more in the picture ,I always go for a nice young juicy leaf and bruise it very well before rubbing it in fairly vigorously at the site of the nettle sting.
  • #10
Thenakedscientists website has an interesting article on this, and suggests it is more likely to be a placebo. It also points out that nettle stings include histamine, acetylcholine and serotonin as well as some formic acid. And there are other acids in the stings too - such as oxalic acid and tartaric acid They suggest an anti-histamine cram might be more effective.
PS googling on "do dock leaves really reduce pain from nettle stings" brings up lots of sites saying it is likely to be a placebo.
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  • #13
I will ,and I may also offer a prayer to the spirit of the poisonous creatures and plants as I negotiate my way through the long grasses.
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  • #14
Vinegar is said to have anti-bacterial properties
It also said to have general anti inflammatory properties, but the fact that it's supposed to do good for everything from acne to arthritis (and overweight too) makes me really doubtful whether it really works.
  • #15
I found that Dock leaves also help with the itching of eczema.
  • #16
The vinegar belief has been around for hundreds of years.
  • #17
When I was a kid I heard that you could get rid of warts by rubbing them with a cut potato.

Or a frog.
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