By Stacy Karen, Contributing Writer
Chances are you will encounter some type of insect or bug bite during the summer. There are lots of ways to treat such bites, but today I want to share one very effective treatment that utilizes the wonderful herb, plantain.
Many people hear the word “plantain” and think of a small banana-like fruit. And yes, that is a plantain, but not the kind of plantain I am referring to.
The herb called plantain is actually a green plant, often considered a weed (but it is a very useful weed and one you might want to keep around).
Image by Phuong Tran
Plantain is thought to draw toxins and infections from the body.
A wonderful way to get the benefits of plantain is to create a plantain salve. It is very easy (instructions for making plantain salve can be found here). The only problem with it is that you must plan ahead and make time to infuse the oil and prepare the salve.
Another very simple method of using plantain is to make a poultice. This requires very little forethought, except having a plant (or dried herb) nearby. And it is very effective.
How to Make (and Use) a Plantain Poultice
To create a plantain poultice, the plantain needs to be mashed and placed against the skin. Today I will share three methods for creating a plantain poultice.
All of these poultices are beneficial for treating the following:
- bug bites
- bee stings
- poison ivy and oak (a plantain wash would also help here)
- cuts and scrapes
Bonus: Plantain has even been know to aid in the removal of slivers, due to it’s drawing properties.
1. The chew-it-up method
This method sounds quite horrible, I admit, but it is excellent during an emergency.
Simply pick a few plantain leaves, rinse off (if necessary), chew the leaves for a while and spit them out.
Place this chewed up mass on affected area. (You get the added benefit of saliva to aid in healing!) It may be necessary to form the chewed up plantain into a ball before placing on the skin.
Wrap with a bandage and leave on the skin for a few hours. Use new plantain every few hours and keep this protocol up for a couple of days, if needed.
2. Powdered herb method
Grind dried plantain into a powder and mix with a little water to form a paste.
Dried plantain ground into powder (mostly)
3. Food processor or blender method
Place this mash in the center of a piece of cheesecloth and fold the sides of the cloth around the mash to form a little package. Place cheesecloth/plantain pack on affected area. Can be taped on with medical tape if needed, or wrapped with muslin. Use new plantain every couple of hours and keep up the poultice for a few days if needed.