Virginia Ahearn, B.S. CPM PCDCertified Professional Midwife • Practitioner of Herbal Medicine • Certified Postpartum Doula
Your Herbal Summer First Aid Kit
‘It’s summertime…..and the livin’ is easy’…..one of my favorite summer songs. I associate summer time with childhood memories of riding bikes, climbing trees, playing in the woods, going to the beach, all of which came with the occasional falling off or down, getting sunburned, or getting scraped up, scratched up, bitten by bugs, and stung by bees. These are priceless memories, injuries included. No wonder I found herbal medicine in my adult life, I played outside all my kid years.
Sunburn-you can soak in an herbal bath of comfrey root or plantain leaf. Comfrey root not recommended for pregnant women, or young kids, or those with severe liver problems. Preparation: you will prepare 4-6 cups of tea using either herb, and add it to a full bath of tepid or cool water. For comfrey root: simmer 4-6 cups of water, add approximately ½ cup of dried herb, simmer 15 minutes. Strain into bathtub. For plaintain leaf, boil water, then turn off flame, steep 1/2 cup dried herb for 30 minutes, strain into bathtub. Soak to your heart’s content. Both plantain and comfrey are cooling herbs to ease the pain of the burn. They also have properties to help regeneration of cells (see section on scrapes and booboos). When you get out of the tub do not shower off, you will rinse away the medicinal bath water that will continue to heal your skin.
For a non-bath option, you can use aloe plant, either slicing the fresh leaf and applying the goop from the inside to your burn, or you can buy one of several aloe products, such as fresh aloe gel. Aloe is a cooling plant, it will cool the burn right down, and your dried out skin will suck up the juicy plant liquid. Use comfrey root, plantain or aloe as many times as you need during the day.
Bug bites and beestings:
Option #1) mix green clay with water to a peanut butter-like consistency. Apply to the sting or bite, let dry. Let it flake off or wash it off after it dries. Apply throughout the day. Green clay draws things out, like bee venom.
Option #2) Comfrey root or plantain leaf to the rescue once again. Soak the sting or bite in the tea, or, wrap the mushy herb pieces from your tea in gauze or hankerchief, and use as a compress/poltice, for 15 minutes at regular intervals until the pain subsides. For preparing the tea use 2 tablespoons of either or both herbs for 16 oz of water.
Option #3) Tea Tree Oil-you can add a drop of essential oil to either the green clay mixture or your tea mush for a compress. It may burn at first but will then moderate the pain.
Scrapes and scratches, wounds and booboos:
Comfrey root or plantain are great for surface cuts and anything not infected or not likely to become infected. See the bug bites section for instructions for soaks and compresses, and use in the same manner.
For big cuts and wounds from wiping out on your bicycle or sliding into home plate, calendula and yarrow are the herbs I go to. And it is fine to throw in a little comfrey or plantain, they are both so good at taking the sting and burn out of things. Both calendula and yarrow are anti-septic and calendula is also anti-bacterial. They can be steeped as a tea and used as a soak or applied as a compress or poultices. A basin can be used to soak the wounds if they are at your feet or ankles. Use ¼ cup of each for a quart of water, follow insructions above for plantain tea.
St. Johns’ Wort is an anti-septic herb, and also good for muscle and nerve pain. You can soak sprained ankles, sore ligaments or tendons in a tea of St. John’s, or use the infused oil (not the essential oil) to apply externally. I used to always take St John’s oil on hiking and back packing trips, apply it at night to my knees, and then wrap my knees in an old t-shirt to keep the oil from getting all over the place.
Virginia’s favorite summer herbal iced tea recipe:
For a quart of tea, boil water, turn off and add 7 or so hibiscus flowers (or a tablespoon if they are crushed up), and about a ¼ cup of rosehips. Both herbs are very cooling and are great on hot summer days. Hibiscus has tons of bioflavinoids, great for reducing varicose veins and strengthening capillaries. Rosehips are high in vitamin C. Hibiscus is very sour, so options are to add honey, peach juice or some other fruit juice. You can add red clover for added minerals and additional cooling properties. Add seltzer for a homemade soda type of beverage. This is a great way to get kids off of kool-aid.
Thank you for reading! Enjoy the summer outdoors!
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