Thursday, June 28, 2012

Plantain Salve

Plantain Salve
Isn't that just GORGEOUS!
Stunningly rich colors!

That jar holds the beginnings of my plantain salve
for soothing skin irritations.
Think bee stings and fire ant bites.
We have been plagued with both this year
and I have found my pantry lacking
any means to deal with them.
So... a salve is needed.

In that jar you see
plantain leaves and stems,
comfrey leaves and stems,
the very last of my garden's chickweed,
bee balm leaves and blossoms
and dried arnica flowers.

Plantain for its "mucilage acts as a demulcent and helps to balance the astringent actions and heals and soothes bee stings, bites, and poison ivy. The astringency also has a styptic effect when used topically and acts to stanch hemorrhage and ease wounds and bleeding cuts by contracting blood vessels."
Comfrey because comfrey is da bomb!! For healing, nothing beats it.
Chickweed draws out the venom and reduces the itching from bites and stings.
Bee balm contains large amounts of Thymol and is a wonderful antiseptic
and it has other properties that soothe and calm and reduce the heat of inflamed tissues.
And arnica is just about the best topical pain reliever I have ever found.
I have a jar that holds a very strong arnica oil that I made.
It is almost instant pain relief.
That finger I tried to cut off several years ago?
Well..I did more damage to it than I thought.
I cut some important things in there and it hurts me
quite often and very badly. A little of my arnica oil on it
and I am good to go again. It is magic!!

So.. all of these wonderful things are steeping all together
in some flax and sunflower oil.
Soon I will add fresh, raw and unfiltered
beeswax to it and a smidge of Vitamin E as a preservative
(added benefit with the anti-scrring properties)
and I will have a salve that should be perfect for easing the pain and itch of insect attacks.

This is plantain.
A wonderful plant for medicinal use.
It is great for just about everything,
but I use it mostly for bites and stings.
Though I hope to use them this winter,
along with my mullein, for lung issues.

I am very proud of my growing number of plantain plants
overtaking the garden.
You just don't see them much anymore
thanks to herbicide use.
I started with just one wee plant
and now I have about 20!
I love the lushness of the leaves.
They are thick and dark and deeply ribbed
and bring a sense of health and wellbeing to the garden.
The garden and it's soil must be healthy
and well balanced if my plantains look this good.
Or at least that is what I tell myself.

And this is how I am steeping the oil.
I don't want to heat up the kitchen,
and frankly it would be ridiculous
to not use the free sunlight and
all of it's energy for this purpose.

But just as you do not want to dry your herbs in direct sunlight,
you don't want to make an herbal oil in the direct sun either.
So.. I pulled out an old (and dusty..sheesh)canning pot
to keep the herbs out of the light
and heat them good and hot at the same time.
It gets very, very warm in there!!
But not so warm as to break apart the delicate herbal oils
and destroy the healing properties of the plants.
I will let them sit in the sun
until the oil is heated all the way through
and then pull it to the shade to let it sit and stew.
I think maybe 2 days of steeping...
I would like to do about a week, but the need for it is great
and immediate.
Poor Sweet Husband has been repeatedly stung
by these teeny tiny little yellow jacket unlike any I have seen before.
They pack one hell of a punch!
This is his second sting in as many weeks on the same spot on his arm.
It is so swollen he says he fear the skin will split. Ouch.
I have been making plantain poultices for it
and it has worked very well.(when I can get him to use them)
Last night's sting actually bled.
I have never seen a little insect draw that much blood.
So it had a huge hole where the sting actually was,
then a raised area around it.
A bit of plantain poultice and within an hour
you couldn't see the big hole and the raised welt was gone.
I'm telling you... plantain is the good stuff!!

Oh darn!! I forgot to put in some yarrow!
Oh well.. I guess it is not too late if I run right out and cut some
to toss into the jar...
Runs out the door!!!


  1. I have just found your blog and I'm so happy to see this post. We have plantain growing wild everywhere here and now I can put it to good use. How long does this salve stay sweet?
    Miss Violet

  2. Hi! A homemade and well made salve will last you a very long time. I prefer to make fresh every season, but it can last two seasons if it must. Keep it in a dark place and a cool place. Make sure to use a Q-tip to scoop it out and not your fingers to keep body oils and bacteria etc.. from getting into it. The Vit. E is not a necessary part of the salve, but it does help to preserve it. So does using fresh, raw, unfiltered beeswax. That is a great preservative in itself. I haven't made the salve yet..I am letting the plants really steep in. Though it is inside now at room temperature. Jen