My little girls just turned five years old. They are growing up! And with their new maturity they're more interested than ever in knowing what I know and helping out in big ways. The other afternoon I was working in the garden and my daughter came up to me with a bunch of weeds in her hands asking if she could pretend it was lettuce. The weed she had picked was plantain, my favorite backyard herb! I climbed out of the garden and did an impromptu lesson on how to identify it and what it was good for. They of course remembered that plantain is the herb mommy chews up and spits on them when they get bug bites! Gross, yes, but much better than getting an infected spider bite or a swelling hornets sting.
Herbs are medicine in a way that few give them credit for. Plantain has compounds in it that actually draw the poison out of the bite and reduce swelling. Don't ask me how or why, I just know that it does. Last night my husband had a massive bite on his forearm so I chewed some plantain and held it on his arm with a gauze pad. After a few minutes the itching stopped and the swelling was reduced.
Now... all that chewing and spitting is pretty gross right? So, this summer I hope to be more prepared for bug bites! I'm dehydrating the plantain right now and am going to infuse olive oil with it. Then I'll make it into a salve. All of this is really easy, you just have to make a little time for it.
You can dry the herb by laying it out on screens or you can pop it in a dehydrator on the lowest heat setting. Around 90 degrees. Drying the herb before infusing the oil will help keep the oil fresh longer by reducing water content.
Once your herbs are dry, and you'll need a lot, so teach your babies how to wildcraft and go pick some, you can put them in a mason jar, fill it at least 3/4 full and over with the oil of your choice. (You can also purchase plantain from The Bulk Herb Store)
Grab your crock pot and fold a tea towel on the bottom, place the jar of oil and herbs on the towel and fill up nearly to the rim of the jar with water.
Turn your crock pot on to low, making sure the water never boils, and let it go for about 3 days.
Check it, turn it off for a time if you think it'd getting to hot. This process will draw the healing properties out of the herbs into the oil.
Strain it all out and pour it into a double boiler or just a metal bowl on top of a pot of gently boiling water.
You will need to add beeswax to make the oil into a salve. I just eyeball it... but I think the ratio is about 1 ounce of beeswax for 1/2 cup of oil. You can always add more wax by melting it down again if it doesn't set up as hard as you'd like.
Pour into a mini mason jar, or a metal tin and apply to all bug bites and scrapes as necessary!
Not sure that I need to say this but for the record I am not a doctor, or medical professional of any kind, though I am called Witch Doctor by those who love me.