Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Relief from Bee Stings and Insect Bites

    I work as a nanny and often take the kids outside to play in the yard. They're all required to wear shoes in case of bees, but I prefer to live on the dangerous side and walk barefoot through the grass. I'd yet to step on a bee, until this week that is.
    Chappy, the 4 year old was out driving in his little toy police car with Ella, an 18 month old, while Spencer, another 18 month old was toddling around. I was trying to keep an eye on everyone while eating my lunch. This sounds like the setup to a perfect afternoon, right?
   Well, I heard Spencer screaming and saw that Chappy had ran him over, so I threw my lunch down and ran to get the play car off of him. Ella was upset now too, so both babies were crying. I was highly perturbed at Chappy (whose license was temporarily suspended), so I wasn't in a good mood either.
    In the process,  I wasn't watching where I was going and stepped on a bee. So now I have two crying babies, a stinger in my foot and my lunch is upside down on the grass. Beautiful afternoon.
   Fortunately everyone ended up just fine and we went inside to play.

     All this to say that I experimented with some bee sting treatments that day. Rosemary Gladstar, herbalist author and founder of United Plant Savers, recommends using clay to draw the toxins out of the wound. In her book, "Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health," she recommends using green clay, but mentions any will work. In "The Home Medical Library"  volume I, the authors recommend a clay poultice as well for insect stings.
    I have bentonite clay on hand for making toothpaste. The bentonite is also great for pulling out toxins and trapping them when it comes to bee stings.


Baking Soda and Vinegar
     Another way to provide instant relief, which may be more practical for some, is to use baking soda and vinegar. Since I was at work and my resources were limited, I made a poultice of baking soda with enough vinegar to create a paste that applied easily and stayed on the area. Some people swear by this remedy, while others discredit it. I have found it very effective for immediate relief.

Activated Charcoal

     Another way to relieve the swelling and pain from stings and bites is to use activated charcoal. If there are a lot of bites on various areas of the body, a bath can be drawn and the charcoal added to it. If, however there are only a few, a poultice can be made and placed on the affected areas.
     Charcoal House is a detailed resource for the many uses of carbon. There you will find testimonials on the power of charcoal to draw out poisons.
     Hospitals will frequently administer charcoal in the E.R. to patients who have ingested toxins.

Activated charcoal is what is used medicinally and is available from many sources.

     But what do you do when you're outside and you need instant relief? Plantain! This miracle plant is great for insect bites, stings, rashes and cuts. It's a very common weed that can be found in your own backyard. Plantain prefers compact areas so look near driveways and walkways. Use your common sense and be sure to choose plants that haven't been sprayed with pesticides or grown near farming fields. Unfortunately our farm fields are highly toxic so don't gather plants that could be contaminated by their toxic runoff.
     The picture on the left is of long leaf, or plantago lanceolata. This is good for mosquito bites but not often used in remedies calling for plantain. Broad leaf, plantago major, is pictured on the left and is widely used for skin irritations.
   To use plantain tear off a leaf, chew it up and spread the goo on the irritation. The leaf can also be rolled between your palms until the juices are released, although this may not be as effective. It's best to wash the leaf if you can, but that's not always an option when you're out.
      My foot became very itchy after I was stung, so I soaked it in an herbal foot bath. Below is an herbal soak for bites and stings. This would even work well for poison ivy. Green clay can be substituted for the bentonite.


Herbal bug bite soak

What you will need:
  • 1/2 gallon pure filtered water
  • 2 Tbsp Bentonite clay
  • 1-2 cups broad leaf plantain
  • 1 cup jewelweed (if using for poison ivy)
  1. Heat the water to almost boiling and make an infusion with the herbs.
  2. Once the mixture has cooled to bath temperature, pour it into a container, like a dishpan dedicated to foot soaks.
  3. Add the bentonite and stir to combine. The clay will sink to the bottom somewhat.
  4. Soak your hand, elbow, foot or whatever area needs it until the water is cold.
This can also be used as a poultice, (for areas that would be awkward to soak).


Herbal Bug Bite Poultice

What you will need:
  • 5 plantain leaves
  • 1 tsp bentonite clay
  • Aloe vera gel

  1. Finely chop the plantain.
  2. Mix in the clay, being sure not to use any metal utensils.
  3. Add enough aloe vera  to make a paste.
  4. Apply liberally to the affected area.


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