I know this series seems to be about all of my favorite plants, but I can’t help it! It seems with my family’s outdoor, active lifestyle I use these herbs more than any others. I keep a jar of salve in my portable first aid kit. When I started selling salves the first thing my husband said was “Make sure you keep some for us!”
I spend a lot of time in the garden and lucky for me I have all of these plants growing, some for most of the year. Fresh plant preparations, like a spit poultice of plantain (Plantago majora/lanceolata) are excellent for drawing the venom out of fire ant bites, reducing the itch of a mosquito bite or soothing the sting from a nettle plant. Interestingly, plantain grows all over the place and can often be found growing next to the nettle plant!
How do you make a spit poultice? Pick some fresh plantain, chew it up until it's a pulpy mass and place it directly on the ouch. If you don't want to use the spit method, you can also mash it up in a morter and pestle with a little water and apply it that way. I extract it into oil for year round use or when there is no fresh plantain available.
I once cut my finger on a piece of slate when I was working in the community garden and made a spit poultice of yarrow (Achillea millefolium). The bleeding stopped almost instantly. I used my Ouch! Relief Salve under the band-aide when I got home and it actually pulled the dirt that had been imbedded in the cut to the surface and I washed it away when I changed the band-aide. No infection, very little pain. Yarrow is also potently antibacterial so it is especially good for those dirty scrapes and cuts.
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is well known for the ability to speed the healing of sore muscles, strains, sprains and broken bones. A hot poultice made from the dried leaves or a soak in a hot tub with comfrey leaves is an excellent way to relax after a hard day’s work or play. Comfrey oil or salve relieves the soreness of chapped and blistered hands, or cuticles dried out in the wintertime.
I use calendula (Calendula officinalis) salve more than any other plant in my pharmacopeia. It is antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral. It also helps reduce the appearance of scars and stretch marks, including keloid scars and skin disfigurement from radiation treatment. I use it as a moisturizer for skin and lips. It is excellent on diaper rash and to relieve the discomfort of yeast infections. It is especially useful on all manner of skin rashes including eczema and psoriasis.
These herbs combined in a salve create a potent topical medicine that reduces pain, swelling and inflammation; is antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal; speeds healing and is safe enough to eat (although I only recommend it for topical use!).
Learn how to make your own oils and salves as well as additional uses of these plants and more at the April 18th class Herbs for Babies and Children! Space is limited, so reserve your spot here!