Oh, sweet summertime! How I love you! The sun rises early and sets late. I get to spend more time in the garden and on long mountain hikes. Honestly, though, summertime in Arkansas is both beautiful and brutal! We have so many bugs, ticks, mosquitos, and chiggers. Fortunately, we also have fireflies! No seriously, during the summer, my whole family is riddled with itchy bug bites and insect stings for months.
Today I'm going to share one of my favorite summertime herbs with you. Plantain is one of the best natural anti-itch bug bite relief remedy known to humankind! Stick around if you can relate to loving summer and needing relief from all the itchy bug bites.
If this is our first time meeting, I'm Maria Chowdhury, a midwife, herbalist, and the creator of Birth Song Botanicals. We make nourishing herbal remedies for women and children and carry on the wisdom, science, and traditions of midwives and herbalists.
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- Latin name: Plantago major
- Common name: plantain, the 'Bandaid plant.'
Plantain grows naturally in every part of the United States. It is native to Europe and Asia but is now widely distributed around the world, such as Latin America, Africa, Australia, and New Zeland. It thrives in temperate and tropical regions.
Plantain can be found in most yards and fields throughout the US, and can quickly take over. Plantain made it to the US by hitchhiking along with the new settlers. Natives in both America and New Zealand have called plantain "Englishman's foot" or "white man's foot," because wherever the newcomers came, plantain came along with them.
Plantain grows as a rosette with the leaves surrounding the stem at the base. The leaves of Plantago major, broadleaf plantain, are more oval and tend to be somewhat large, and the stems stand above them with seeds covering them. A more commonly found variety grows narrower leaves with tall, thin, and slightly squared, with a flowering seed head clustered at the top.
All the varieties of plantain work very similar and are interchangeable. So don't worry too much about which plant is the most potent. Just work with the plant that is growing around you.
Herbal Benefits and Therapeutic Properties of Plantain are Numerous
Plantain is emollient, soothing, moistening, protecting, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-itch, analgesic, it repairs tissues. Plantain is excellent externally for all sorts of skin irritations, rashes, bites, stings, burns, bumps, cuts, scrapes, bruises, infections, and hemorrhoids. Internally, plantain is ideal for ulcers, lung congestion, urinary and bladder infections, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel, and gut inflammation.
Plantain is both food and medicine. It can be applied as a whole leaf like a bandaid or a poultice, a spit poultice, compress, wash, bath, spray, and linaments. You can drink it as a tea and take it internally as extractions and capsules. Plantain can be infused in oil and beeswax to make herbal oils, ointments, creams, lip balms, and salves.
On its own plantain is a complete medicine. As an individual plant without needing to add anything to it or make it into anything other than what it naturally is, plantain is a potent herbal remedy that works. It can stand alone and be effective.
At the same time, plantain can combine, blend, and enhance other herbs. It does not need to compete with them. Instead, plantain simply makes them and itself better. Plantain easily blends with well yarrow, lavender, saint johns wort, arnica, comfrey, and calendula.
As you can see, plantain is impressive and has quite a long list of benefits! Today let's focus on the fact that plantain is a phenomenal all-natural anti-itch bug bite relief remedy.
Clearly, itchy and infected bug bites and insect stings are among the most challenging parts of summer. A fun evening out in the warm night air can quickly turn miserable if you or your kids are being swarmed. All of the scratching makes us want to put on long clothes, spray poison, or retreat indoors to escape the attack.
In most cases, it isn't the bite that causes the itch, but the anesthetic that a bug injects in you so that you can't feel it while it's taking a drink from you! If you're allergic to the anesthetic, your body will attack the substance with white blood cells, which are antibodies that cause your tissues to become inflamed and puffy. Red blood cells come to help, but that causes more redness, and the well-meaning histamine response often creates those frustrating and painful hives that itch and irritate us!
This explains why you might get "eaten up" with bug bites while your loved one sits next to you and doesn't feel a thing. It's not that the bugs like you more – it's just that you react to their anesthetic more. Everyone likely got the same amount of bites.
An effective bug bite remedy shouldn't just be an anti-itch remedy. It should also address the inflammation, pain, potential infection, and allergic reaction.
Our family relies on plantain in the thick of summer to soothe all sorts of skin irritations. Fortunately, we have a plethora of plantain growing in our yard, and we have lots of plantain infused Healing Salve. Our Healing Salve is great for a wide variety of ailments and is hands down one of the best all-natural bug bite relief remedies.
Plantain Infused Healing Salve
Healing Salve is an all-natural ointment made out of herbs infused with olive oil and beeswax. Healing Salve is an herbal antibiotic balm that replaces Neosporin and other over the counter syntectic chemical-laden creams. Healing Salve acts as a protector and guardian for damaged skin. The emollient and moistening properties have an ability to penetrate past the skin. As the salve is absorbed into the body, it carries the beneficial therapeutic properties of the herbs deep into the tissues so they can repair themselves. Our Healing Salve is blended with plantain, yarrow, pau de arco, oregon grape root, and calendula, which are antiseptic and powerful infection fighters. Essentially, think of Healing Salve as an herbal first aid, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory ointment that is also great for itchy bug bites and insect stings.
How to Treat a Bug Bite with Plantain
Plantain can draw out the poison, so for stings and bites, make a poultice of fresh plantain leaf. You can enhance the drawing power by mixing plantain with a little water and activated charcoal or bentonite clay to form a paste. It will take away the pain immediately when placed on the bite or sting.
As I said before, plantain is a complete medicine on its own. So don't worry if you don't have the other ingredients. You can always make a spit poultice by chewing up a plantain leaf into a spit wad and place it on the bite. It might sound gross, but it dramatically relieves the pain, and in a pinch when that's all you have, you're pretty grateful for the simplicity of the application. Applying the fresh herb directly to the affected area is how plantain got its name as an herbal bandaid.
I would like to bring your attention to a few details before you pick the leaf, start chewing on it and place it on an open wound. First, be sure that you have correctly identified the proper plant. Second, make sure the plant that is being harvested is not contaminated by your pets, pesticides, or herbicides. Plantain can grow just about anywhere in most conditions. So the plant growing through the sidewalk in a busy parking lot is not the purest plant to put in your mouth. If you look a little more, you might find one growing in better conditions.
How to Treat an Infected Bug Bite
Here is what to do if a bug bite or sting becomes infected. Treating an infected bite or sting is pretty straight forward. Clean the bite with soap and water. Spray it with some of our antiseptic Caesarean Recovery Spray to keep the wound clean and fresh. Keep the bite and any other infected areas covered. Use ice packs to reduce swelling. Instead of using topical hydrocortisone cream and calamine lotion to reduce itching and swelling. Of course, apply Herbal Healing Salve mixed with our Herbal Cord Care Powder to the infected bite.
CAUTION: Watch for signs of infection in any bite, especially tick and spider bites. If you get bit by a tick or a spider, keep it and put it in a little bag so an expert can identify it. Most spider bites are benign. However, a Brown Recluse or a Black Widow bite can be very dangerous and life-threatening. Be safe. A quick response from a physician will be needed in these situations.
More Than a Weed!
As you can see, plantain is more than just an invasive weed. I mean, what is a weed anyway?
I enjoy Ralph Waldo Emerson's perspective:
"What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered."
Plantain Leads by Example
Have you ever fallen in love before? I mean falling in love with a person, a hobby, or in my case with herbs? You know you love it, and when you get to spend more time with it, and you find a whole new angle, and you fall in love even more. Well, that's how I feel about plantain. I've always admired and appreciated plantain for its simplicity and completeness. Recently I've fallen even deeper in love with plantain not because I discovered another illness or discomfort it can treat.
Rather, it's because I can now see how plantain teaches us how to be as people and how to contribute to the community. Plantain is a way-shower and a teacher that leads by example. Yes, plantain is an invasive plant and considered a weed. It can grow almost anywhere. Plants that grow everywhere that people are signals to us that this plant is making itself available. It is known as a "peoples herb." Plantain is a low growing plant; it has a low profile, its humble and blends in. It does not attract too much unnecessary attention to itself. It is a giver and a healer. It is medicine and food. Like I said before, it is confident an capable as an individual, and it's a team player. Plantain collaborates well with others improving the qualities of the other herbs.
In many of my recent videos and posts, forgiveness has been a theme. In a way, plantain is a great forgiver, or at least it's very compassionate. It helps soothe the irritated and agitated parts of our selves. It purifies, guards, protects, holds, and heals our pains. It is gentle enough for newborn babies, and it is strong enough to be effective.
In every way, plantain is a giver. It finds a way to be available and contribute to us, our pets, and even other plants. The only thing I can see it taking- is space. Some people might see plantain as taking up valuable space in their well-manicured lawns.
This humble plant has a lot to offer us physically and spiritually. I see plantain as a role model for the healing presence I strive to hold and contribute to you and your life. If this video helps you feel better, helps your mosquito bites not itch so bad, then that is a win. Our Healing Salve is formulated with the same level of compassion and effectiveness as plantain. If you'd like to order a jar now, use this coupon code PLANTAIN and save 10 percent on your order. The coupon only works on our website.
Thank you so much for reading today! We have lots more videos and posts about herbs, for you to check out.
Until next time my friends, drink deep and always walk in beauty!
*This post is for educational purposes only. It does not replace medical care. If you or a loved one has been bitten by an unknown insect or a known poisonous spider seek medical attention.*
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