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Plantain for bee stings

Plantain for bee stings

Harvesting plantain leavesThe time has finally come for me to learn to make herbal salves.  I'll tell you the recipe below, but first I have to regale you with the reason for the treatment.

Bradley, Mark, and I set out to nadir the Warre hive Thursday, but I'm afraid I got cocky.  Last time, nadiring went so smoothly that I didn't smoke the hive and didn't even feel like we needed to wear veils.  Lazily, I decided to leave my veil off this time around, which meant that neither of my male helpers felt they could don a veil.  (Perhaps they were just lazy like me, but it makes a better story to say it was the testosterone speaking.)

Jar of herbsI really should have known better because bees are always getting caught in my braids, even when I'm just out weeding the garden.  Sure enough, as soon as Mark and Bradley had the hive off the ground and I bent down to slide a new hive body underneath, a confused worker tangled herself in my hair.  Her angry buzzing riled up the rest of the bees, and before we'd left the apiary, I had a sting on the bridge of my nose, Bradley had a sting on his lower eyelid, and the pasture fence was a bit bent down where our helper had hurdled the chicken wire to escape.  (Mark came through unscathed.  I can only conclude my husband's calm temperament warded off the bees.)

Stings on your face hurt more than ordinary stings, so I decided mine needed treatment.  No problem --- just snag a bit of broadleaf plantain out of the yard, chew it up, and dab the green goo on my face.

Steeping plantain leaves

Luckily, I realized just in time that you can't spit in the eye of your helper and then expect him to come back, so Bradley's sting went untreated (except for having the stinger removed).  The poor guy wandered around the farm in a daze all afternoon, favoring his wounded eye.  "It wouldn't be so bad," he told us, hamming it up for all he was worth, "Except this is my fishing eye, and I'd hoped to go to the river this evening."

Cloth lidEven though Bradley was only joking, I figured it couldn't hurt to have a salve on hand for similar situations in the future.  (Having this blog post show up in my RSS feed Friday morning helped make the decision for me too.)

I'm very new to making herbal salves, but from my early research, the project seems remarkably simple.  Cut up the leaves of the plants you're interested in, stick them in a jar full of olive oil, put a cloth on top, stir occasionally for six weeks or so (being prepared for your plantain concoction to start smelling like pepperoni), strain out the leaves, then add in a bit of melted beeswax.  (I included a bit of comfrey for long-term healing along with the plantain for short-term sting relief.)

Some people speed up the steeping process with heat, but I'm in no hurry.  After all, next time we work with the bees, we're all wearing veils.

Our chicken waterer keeps our flock well hydrated even when the temperature nears 100.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Couple of other quick and easy ways to help bee stings, any kind of tobacco will draw the poison out and stop the stinging, or, table sugar. Make a thick paste with sugar and water and put it on the sting. It stops the pain almost instantly. I've used the sugar several times and it works wonders!

Comment by Andrew Sat Jun 30 15:54:14 2012
Thanks for the great instructions. I keep meaning to start trying some of these herbal sorts of things, but there are so many different things to do. I like the idea of having a nice basic recipe to follow for little injuries. I assume that since plantain is good for most small injuries that this salve will be too. Right?
Comment by sarah Sat Jun 30 20:19:22 2012

Andrew --- I've read some people use honey, which may work on the same principle as your sugar poultice.

Sarah --- I actually had a storebought salve for a long time (since I didn't use much of it) that was primarily based on comfrey. If I was going to make an all-around small wound healer, that would be my primary plant. Comfrey is awesome at making cuts heal up fast! This salve wouldn't hurt, though.

Comment by anna Sat Jun 30 21:22:26 2012

Using coconut oil instead of olive oil works well also. You just heat it slightly to bring it to liquid consistency and then add the plantain. We put it in 1/2 pint jars and let them sit in the sun for a few weeks. Great stuff!


Comment by idahobob Sun Jul 1 09:20:26 2012

Hi Anna! I am glad that I could help spur you onto making a salve. It does beat having to run out to the garden and chew up some when you need it. Plus, Sweet Husband is NOT a fan of having my rub my green slimy spit on him. Nope.. not at all. Thanks for the plug in too!! jen

Comment by JEN Sun Jul 1 13:28:17 2012

Idahobob --- Good idea with the coconut oil! I'll bet if I used that, I wouldn't need to add beeswax at the end.

Jen --- I was thrilled to see a post on your blog! It's been a long time and I'd missed you. :-)

Comment by anna Sun Jul 1 14:19:06 2012

Cool, I've got a ton of plantian in my lawn! Thanks for the reference to Down Home on the Hennery. Happy Independence Day!

Comment by Anonymous Tue Jul 3 12:35:34 2012
Anonymous --- Yeah, I had to laugh when one of the websites I read on making plantain salve talked about the plant's scarcity. We certainly don't have that problem.... :-)
Comment by anna Tue Jul 3 16:52:44 2012

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