Monday, August 18, 2014

Mindful Monday: Healing Benefits of the Herbal Weed Plantain

I am trying to self-educate as far as my herbal knowledge at this point.  And I try to stick with one herb or ailment at a time.  But they all interconnect, and I sometimes get sent on tangents for one reason or another.

This is one of those tangents.

A few months ago I learned that a common weed found in most people's yards is a helpful herb used in for bee stings.  Broadleaf plantain (Plantago major) is high in vitamins B, C, and K, beta carotene, and calcium.  It makes a healthy green treat for the chickens, so I made sure to give them a little at least every couple days when their pens weren't on any.   I scanned the information, then filed it away in my brain for later study.

Broadleaf Plantain
Broadleaf Plantain with Seed Stalks

Later came sooner than expected in the form of my little man crying "Ow!" and running to me as I sat on the sofa.

"My neck hurts!" he cried with his little hand covering the offending area.

When I finally got him to let me look, I noticed the side of his neck was a splotch of red surrounding a small, swollen spot.  I checked for a stinger, but found none.  I asked if he had scratched it, but he said he hadn't.  I asked if it was itchy.

"No.  It hurts," he told me.

Bite on Bug's neck.
(The spot at the bottom left is a freckle.)

I am paranoid about spider bites.  I jumped online to check pictures of Recluse bites. The Brown Recluse freaks me out, but in our area the Yellow House of Yellow Sac spider is responsible for most bites.  I have had more than my fair share of spider bites, so I know how irritating they are.  

Then I remembered what I had read about plantain.  I did a quick search on it, just to make sure I was remembering correctly, and I went out to pick a couple leaves.

I brought them in, washed them, and tossed them into the Ninja.

Chopped plantain I used for Bug's bite.

Chopped plantain in Ninja processor.

I took a wad of the chopped leaves and held them on the affected area for about five minutes.  When I removed the leaf pieces, the results were almost immediate.  The swelling was reduced, and the red splotch was fading.

After 5 minutes with chopped plantain.
Ten minutes after removing the leaves, the redness was gone, the swelling down, and only a small dot remained where the bite was.

10 minutes after removing chopped plantain

A few days later, I got a mosquito bite on my thumb.  I don't normally react to those pesky parasites, so the itching was annoying.  But I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try the saliva poultice recommended.

Bite on my thumb.
(It's hard to see because I don't have much reaction.)

I took one plantain leaf, washed it, and popped it in my mouth.  I then chewed it well--the taste is very green, a little bitter, and slightly heavy.  I put the chewed wad on the bite and let is sit for a few minutes.

Masticated saliva plantain poultice 
I know it seems gross, but it's my own saliva on my own body.  And I'm not easily grossed out.  Even before trying it on myself, this method seemed viable.  Saliva has healing properties.
July 24, 2008
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
A report by scientists from the Netherlands identifies a compound in human saliva that greatly speeds wound healing. This research may offer hope to people suffering from chronic wounds related to diabetes and other disorders, as well as traumatic injuries and burns. In addition, because the compounds can be mass produced, they have the potential to become as common as antibiotic creams and rubbing alcohol.

After removal of saliva plantain poultice
As I said, I don't normally react to mosquito bites.  When I do, they heal pretty quickly on their own.  (Take that diabetes!)  But beyond that, this poultice gave immediate relief of all symptoms.

Healed bite area, immediately after washing poultice off.

I plan to try this on my dog's irritable skin.  She is allergic to life, and has frequent outbreaks of inflamed red spots.  (These are not hot spots, they are allergic reactions to the environment.)  Normal antihistamines do nothing for her, so I'm hoping that this may be an easy, free way to ease her suffering.  I will let you know how it works on her.

I will also give more in depth information about broadleaf plantain in a later post.

Do you use any yard weeds for their healing properties?

This post is part of the 100th Clever Chicks Blog Hop on The Chicken Chick!

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