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Summertime means insect bites and stings. Ouch! Take a leaf from Susun S. Weed’s storehouse of natural remedies: Soothe, heal, and prevent bites with safe herbal remedies that grow right where you live, north or south, east or west, city or country. The best natural remedies for insect bites are right underfoot.
Plantain, also called ribwort, pig’s ear, and the band-aid plant, is a common weed of lawns, driveways, parks, and playgrounds. Identify it by the five parallel veins running the length of each leaf. (Most leaves have a central vein with smaller ones branching out from it.) You may find broad leaf plantain (Plantago majus), with wide leaves and a tall seed head, or narrow leaf plantain (Plantago lanceolata), with long thin leaves and a small flower head that looks like a flying saucer. Many Plantago species have seeds and leaves that can be used as food or medicine. A South American variety (Plantago psyllium) is used to make Metamucil™.
How to use plantain? Make a fresh leaf poultice. Pick a leaf, chew it well and put it on the bite. “Like magic” the pain, heat, and swelling— even allergic reactions— disappear, fast! (Yes, you can dry plantain leaves and carry them in your first aid kit. Chew like you would fresh leaves.)
Poultices ease pain, reduce swelling, and help heal. No wonder they’re the number one natural choice for treating insect bites, bee and wasp stings.
Mud is the oldest and simplest poultice. Powdered white clay, which should be mixed with a little water or herb tea, can be applied directly to the sting as soon as possible. Clay can be kept on hand at all times and is less likely to contain fungal spores than the real thing. Finely ground grains such as rice or oatmeal, or bland starchy substances like mallow root, grated potato, or arrowroot powder, are also used as soothing poultices to ease itching and pain from insect bites.
Fresh-herb poultices are a little more complicated, but not by much. Just find a healing leaf, pluck it, chew it, and apply it directly to the sting/bite. If you wish, use a large leaf or an adhesive bandage to hold the poultice in place. Plantain, comfrey (Symphytum uplandica x), yellow dock (Rumex species), wild geranium (Geranium maculatum), wild mallow (Malva neglecta), chickweed (Stellaria media), and yarrow are only a few of the possibilities.