Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Quick Herbal Bug Bite Salve

by Chiot's Run

Several years ago I read about the wonders of Broad Leaved Plantain, a "weed" that grows everywhere. It's also known as: Bird's Meat, Common Plantain, Great Plantain, Rat-tail Plantain, White Man's Foot.

I have it growing all over the gardens here at Chiot's Run and I'm quite happy about it. It comes in very handy when I'm out working late and get bit by mosquitoes or if I get stung by a bee.

All you have to do for a quick salve is grab a leaf or two, chew them up and apply them to the bug bite. I often do this while I'm out working if I need to, but I prefer to make a poultice with some baking soda as it stays on better and I think it works better. (as with all wild plants, make sure you know exactly what you're picking & using!)

What I usually do is take a few leaves, cut them finely, add a pinch or two of baking soda and a little water. Then I grind them to a wet paste in my mortar & pestle and apply to the bug bite. It instantly works to get rid of the itch or sting and keeps it coming back.

This salve is also very beneficial for using on cuts and scrapes, I often add some turmeric and comfrey when I'm using it for this purpose as turmeric helps with inflammation and pain and comfrey speeds healing.

Plantain has medicinal uses of all sorts: bites, cuts, scrapes, rashes, skin problems, intestinal pain & issues, worms, boils, bronchitis, coughs, colitis, hemorrhoids, diarrhea, dysentery, vomiting, bed wetting and incontinence and many other things (for more info read this and this). I have yet to use it internally, but I use it often for bug bites, stings and cuts. I'm trying to make plantain oil for using medicinally. Since it's an herb with no known side-effects I definitely want to try using it more often.

Have you ever used plantain? Do you use herbs/weeds for medicinal purposes?

I can also be found at Chiot's Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Not Dabbling in Normal, and you can follow me on Twitter.


Nienke said...

What a nice post! English is not my first language, but as soon as I saw the picture I knew exactley which plant you meant. I use it as well (in Dutch it's called 'weegbree'). It's especially handy when you get a rash from contact with nettle, as it always grows near the nettle plant.
I never considered making a paste from it though. What does the baking soda in your mixture do?
Another solution to mosquito bites could be to use lavender. Just twist the leave so the oils 'free up' and apply. One of my favourite recipes is my 'flu tea'. When I have a cold, I usually make a tea of mint (to make you breathe more easily) and blossom of the elderberry (makes you sweat out the sickness). I usually add some green tea as well. This is diuretic, but also covers up the taste of the elderberry a bit, which does most of the good work but which taste I despise... I don't know if it really helps as much as I give it credit for, but only the (soothing) psychological effect is worth the effort

Paula said...

Cornmeal and warm water cured the fungus I had on my toenail. I read somewhere that someone heard a gardening guru say it was great for fighting fungus on roses, and that he'd has a toenail fungus for 27 years, and thought he'd try it on his toes. He'd soak every week and after a year it went away. The theory is that the warm water activates enzymes in the corn that eat the fungus.

I had a fungus and tried the Penlac one year- fungus went away, and then came back. So I tried the cornmeal and warm water soak, and didn't even do it every week- just when i remembered to- and the fungus went away after awhile. That was several years ago- it hasn't come back.

Chookie said...

Is this plant the same as or a relative of dock, which is used for nettle stings?

I use aloe vera on burns and grazes; it helps them heal. I have drunk herbal teas brewed by my Dad for colds, stomach upsets and the like, but found them all horrible. The effect of oatmeal baths on my son's chicken pox was quite magical -- it stopped the itch.

Hazel said...

I made plantain ointment (beeswax base)earlier this year after watching a James Wong programme. (Well worth looking for Grow Your Own Drugs, either on BBC i-player or for the books on Amazon. Raises some eyebrows when you reserve it at your local library...)

It's been brilliant, and we now look for the plant in preference to dock leaf, which I grew up using, if I don't have my pot of ointment with me. I don't think plantain and dock are related.

I second oatmeal baths- they were fabulous for DD1's eczema as a toddler.

Otherwise, I find I'm using more and more wild herbs.I use homemade calendula and daisy ointments on scratches; clover syrup for coughs; buttercup ointment on dry skin and elderberry rob for colds and flu (has an instant effect on my 6 year old, apparently!) amongst others.

Gardenatrix said...

Very cool! I have some volunteering in my yard, but it hadn't occurred to me to try it directly on bug bites.

Thanks for a new way to get a yield from the stuff!

LynnS said...

The mosquitoes have been awful this summer and it's so peculiar considering the drought (I'm in Virginia). Yes, I use Plantain all the time, among other herbals and natural curatives. Nicely written article!

Alice Y. said...

I've heard of someone who uses a preparation of the root internally as a hay fever cure. It's meant to be a natural anti-histamine.

Sarah said...

while living in santa barbara i was lucky enough to have several neighbors who studied herbs and plants.
we were having a drum circle in our shared yard when my oldest child (about 3 at the time) ran into a table and cut his eyebrow fairly deep.
i was freaking out not knowing what i should do about it and they were like, "calm down, just chew up this plant and stick it ont here and we will bandage him up."
thats what we did and his would immediately stopped bleeding, and healed very nicely and there was no scarring.
i always knew what the plant looked like but forgot what it was called.
it was definitely this plant!!
i have used it a lot and it has made me very interested in learning more about plants and their uses!
im a firm believer in the healing power of nature!