Easy Poultice for Insect Stings – What’s your favorite way?

I taught a class on herbal first-aid recently and we went over a variety of home remedies for simple concerns that arise with more time outside when the weather is nice — bites, stings, rashes, cuts, etc.

IMG_0795One of the topics was bee/wasp/hornet stings. Ouch!  It was interesting to hear all of the ways that people manage this at home.

My favorite is very simple and we’ve used it three times in the past year!

Before applying anything, try to remove the stinger.  Use tweezers or even scrape a credit card along the skin to dislodge it.  This will go a long way in preventing the area from continuing to be painful and irritated.

Then, make a thick paste with equal parts baking soda and clay to neutralize the area and remove toxins that cause the sting.  Seriously, that’s it!

Get a tablespoon or so of both baking soda and clay (I use kaolin), add enough water to form a paste, and apply this to the bite.  Allow to dry and just let it sit there for as long as necessary. You can reapply every 30 minutes or so to keep soothing the area.  Also, I often add a drop or two of tea tree or lavender essential oil to the paste to further help relieve the sting and calm the area.

I have a few packets of the mix leftover if you’re looking to have some on hand!

IMG_2717You can also buy your own baking soda and kaolin clay.  I recommend using Mountain Rose Herbs, especially because they have aluminum-free baking soda!

And, another trick for stings if you’re away from home – grab a leaf of the common weed Plantain (Plantago major), crush it up in your hands (or even chew it!) to release the juices and stick this wad of goopy plant material right on your sting.  It will help to relieve the sting quickly and also helps to draw out toxins.  In fact, it’s a good plant to know for any bug bites you get while outdoors (you should see me while camping, I have tend to have little wads of plantain all over!).

IMG_0622What’s your favorite way to deal with stings naturally?

Come to the next class on the farm (October 8, 2015) where we’ll be discussing herbal remedies to help with the transition to Fall. This class is sponsored by the Holistic Moms Network and it is helpful if you register.


“After Dinner Ahh” Tea Blend

I had such a peaceful time on the coast last week.  However, peace isn’t something that should just be felt while on vacation – we need moments to take a break and experience serenity in our everyday lives.

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Hands-On Permaculture

After almost two weeks of intensive living and learning, I have my Permaculture Design Certificate from Midwest Permaculture! It’s my first full day away from the course and I’m a bit sad that it’s all over.

During these past weeks, I learned that life can be full of community, of learning and working with others, of meals and conversations and a fullness that seems to be lacking so often in “the real world” (or is experienced fleetingly). I felt like less of an outsider on the planet and like I had found some place that I have always been looking for where people want to learn to live in harmony with the Earth. I felt connections and relationships blossoming in ways that I rarely do in my day to day life.  And I was learning a tremendous amount on a daily basis.  It’s hard to leave that behind.

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Learning to Love Weeds – Plantain

You’ve probably seen it growing in lawns, along the sidewalk, and in vacant lots, but have you ever realized how beneficial plantain can be?  (And no, we’re not talking about the banana-like fruit.)

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Get Your Red Clover Before the Season’s Over

Ah, red clover. A versatile plant that helps with so many things — amusing young children in an attempt to find 4 leaves; food for grazing animals; medicine; and fixing nitrogen into the soil, to name a few.

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June Brings…(Sourdough success, garden beauty, and permaculture plans)

It took me a month of working with my sourdough starter, but it finally resulted in a delicious loaf. It still needs work, but I think it was a darn good first try.

Fresh sourdough bread!

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Introduction to Nourishing Herbal Infusions – Nettle

Many people have jumped on the green juice bandwagon, and for good reason — these juices are a welcome addition of vitamins, minerals, and other nourishment to our diets.  They work well at helping people to feel more energized and healthy. Unfortunately, many green juice recipes call for produce that is not always, if ever, in season in my region.

Are there other ways to get a local, sustainable, and easy punch of chlorophyll, vitamins, and minerals?

Why yes there is.  Hello lady nettle.

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)

I remember my first encounter with nettle.  It happened as a young child when I was helping my mother to weed the garden.  I innocently pulled this ‘weed’ and soon thereafter had a nasty irritation all over my hand. Ow, nettle! She certainly has evolved an excellent defense mechanism.

Luckily, that early interaction did not deter me from learning about nettle and her many benefits.

Susun Weed reports an impressive list of nourishment found in nettle:

{Note from 1/2016: As discussed in the comments, there is some debate about the actual amounts of vitamins and minerals found in these infusions and whether fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K can be assimilated in this form.  Please see the comments for a link to another analysis of vitamin & mineral content in infusions.  Either way, it is without a doubt that adding infusions to your life will increase the vitamins and minerals you’re consuming and have certainly made a difference for many people’s overall health.}

Nettle is a superior source of protein; 10 percent by weight.

Nettle is a rich storehouse of  readily-absorbable minerals, trace minerals, and micro-nutrients:

calcium (1000 mg per quart of infusion)

magnesium (300 mg per quart of infusion)

potassium (600 mg per quart of infusion)

zinc (1.5 mg per quart of infusion)

selenium (.7 mg per quart of infusion)

iron (15 mg per quart of infusion)

manganese (2.6 mg per quart of infusion)

    plus chromium, cobalt, phosphorus, copper, sulphur, silicon, and tin.

Nettle is super-charged with vitamins:

    Vitamin A (5000 IU per quart of infusion)

    Vitamin B complex, especially thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate

Plus Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K

All of this combines to provide an excellent source of energy and nourishment that is easy to come by and easy to use!

After experimenting with nettle infusion for about a year now, I would not turn back and I drink this infusion about 3-4 times a week.  I find that I crave the nourishment of this drink when I haven’t had it for a few days.  When I drink it, I feel as though I am drinking Earth milk (but I have not tried it on cereal!). I feel nourished and more connected with the natural world.  Plants (commonly considered weeds!) right outside my door can contribute to my health and well being.

The process starts by measuring out an ounce of dried nettles.  I’ve seen other people write about nettle infusions using just a few tablespoons of herb — this will still be a healthy drink, but won’t pack quite the same punch of minerals.  When I was beginning, I measured this ounce out with a scale, but I have since measured nettle out enough times to simply visualize an ounce of the herb in my quart jar.

Ounce of dried nettle

Next, I boil water and distract myself with teeth brushing or other before-bed chores.  When the water is ready, I pour it over the herb, seal the jar, and am off to bed.  The minimum time to leave an infusion is 4 hours, but it is fine to leave it overnight.

(Tip: pour the water over a knife placed across the jar lid to help diffuse the heat and avoid breaking jars!)

Nettle infusion ready to sit for the night

In the morning, I strain the herb and drink the resulting infusion throughout the day.  I drink it cold and straight out of the fridge, but it could also be warmed.  When I first started drinking nettle I added honey a few times to see if I preferred it that way (I didn’t, but I know that others do.  Mint is also a popular addition — just add a tablespoon to the ounce you measured out.).

Straining the infusion

What isn’t used right away can be stored in the refrigerator for several days.  If it isn’t used in that amount of time, it can be used as a hair rinse or to water houseplants.

Don’t forget to compost leftover herbs!

So where do you get this much nettle?  It’s awesome if you can harvest it somewhere local to you, but Mountain Rose Herbs is my favorite source for organic bulk herbs.  You can find their nettle HERE.

FTC DISCLOSURE: As a way to support my blogging and related activities, I may receive monetary or other compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services within this article. However, it is my promise to you that I am sharing my honest opinion and that I only recommend products or services that I have personally used or recommend and are in alignment with Light Footsteps ideals.