Heart-to-Heart with Diane

Hello and Welcome! Isn't raising a family the greatest!? I know I've got the best job in the world, just being Mom! I love sharing things I've discovered that make being "Mom" better, easier or more fulfilling, and that is what this blog is all about. Welcome!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sting Magic

I was out gardening this morning when suddenly that sharp, paralyzing feeling shot up my hand—I'd been stung! Seems our little farm is wasp-haven, and I am not winning the battle with hosing their nests down from the eaves of my house, and from their various hiding places.

I looked around the grass and found plantain. I don't like to use poisons (hence the wasps, plus the weeds in the grass), so fortunately, plantain was right there, growing in my lawn. I chewed up a leaf and quickly put the pulp on my sting. It's magic—it really is! It always amazes me how fast plantain makes you forget you were stung.

When I came inside to shower, as soon as I washed off the plantain, the sting started hurting again. That plantain is really like magic! It's nickname is "Band-aid Plant" and it is regarded as one of the best healing herbs. The active ingredient is a powerful anti-toxin. Native Americans called it Snakeweed and carried it in their medicine pouches to treat snakes bites. Plantain stops pain quickly, speeds healing, stops bleeding, draws out foreign matter, stops itching, prevents and stops allergic reactions from bee stings, kills bacteria, and reduces swelling. Use it on sprains, cuts, insect bites, rashes, boils, bruises, chapped lips or hands, baby's bottom, and burns.

Something inspiring I learned about plantain is that it grows within a close distance to poisonous plants, like stinging nettle. God gave us the cure right next to the trouble, like he does so often in our lives. I've hunted it down on hikes or at the park, when a child is stung. It grows in most lawns, to the distress of the gardener. It grows most everywhere, including parks, playgrounds and in the cracks of the sidewalk. There is a broad-leaf version (like the photo) and the narrow leaf version. The most distinguishing feature for me is that if you turn over the leaf, there are 5 prominent veins are parallel to each other and run the length of the leaf. It also sends up a stalk with a "cat tail" looking seed-thing on the top. The seeds of plantain are sold as Psyllium, a bulking fiber (to treat constipation).

If you want to have plantain around in the winter, here's some ways to store that magic:

You can dry the leaves and put them in your first aid kit. Chew them just as you would a fresh leaf, and put it on the wound. Works well.

A little harder:
You can also make a Plantain Oil. Just stuff a small glass jar with coarsely-chopped fresh, plantain leaves. They must be dry, so it is best not wash them. (Think that they were rained on or watered recently and they are clean. Pick those away from footpaths or roadsides and you'll get cleaner plants.) Fill the jar tightly with leaves, and pour in olive oil to completely cover. Use a wooden spoon handle to prod the leaves, pushing them down and releasing air bubbles. Make sure all leave are submerged in the oil. Add a little more oil to the top and cap tightly. Put this jar in your pantry on a plate to catch any drips, and leave it be for 6 weeks. If you happen to notice it, you might shake it a bit every few days. If not, it will still be good. At the end of 6 weeks, pour the oil through a strainer, pressing the leaves with the back of a spoon to release all the oil. Label and store in a dark place, preferably in a dark glass bottle. Now, when you need plantain, use the oil just like you would a salve. Rub it on, or drop some on the bandage to put up against a wound or sting.

A little more trouble still:
You can gently heat beeswax to mix it with the oil, at the ratio of one tablespoon grated beeswax to about one ounce of oil. Pour this into a little tub and it will cool into Plantain Ointment.

Fresh is easiest, and works the best—just like magic! Don't let your kids suffer from stings this summer without showing them how to fix it with plantain.

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  • At July 17, 2009 at 7:58 AM , Blogger littlehands said...

    My husband uses the following method to control wasps, without pesticides. If you have a portable propane torch or can rent one, wasps are easily killed by burning off their wings. Wave the flame around their nest and they drop right out of the sky. Usually they build the nests underneath eaves...we often get them on our sheds and outbuildings.

  • At July 18, 2009 at 6:38 AM , Blogger Debbie S. said...

    For those of us who might not have plaintain readily available in their yards...there is another very quick, effective, non-"poisonous" method of stopping sting pain. Keep a jar of Adolph's Meat Tenderizer on hand and when there is a sting incident, moisten the area of the sting site with a small amount of water and then sprinkle on the AMT...rubbing it gently on the wound. The pain will instantly disappear as it neutralizes the chemical from the sting. I have used this for my children for over 30 years for stings from wasps, bees, and red (fire) ants. It's easy and quite amazing.

  • At July 18, 2009 at 1:27 PM , Blogger Mireille said...

    Diane, I often make my own herbal preparations and usually use extra virgin olive oil. I note in your wonderful instructions you say NOT to use EVO. You must know something I don't. Please share! Why not EVO?

  • At July 18, 2009 at 4:25 PM , Blogger Annette said...


    We will have to give this a try. Recently, we have had 4 members of our immediate family stung! 3 of us (yes, I was one of the stung) immediately scraped off the stinger and applied vitamin E oil from a capsule. My Aunt Mary told us about the Vit. E years ago. We waited a few minutes and held an ice cube to the injured foot arch for as long as we could bear it or bother with it. Not a one of the 3 swelled or hurt more than a few minutes :) The 4th injured party had no vitamin E and no ice cube on his pitiful person :( He began to feel tightness in his throat and a friend rushed him to the local Walgreens where he chugged down half a bottle of liquid benedryl on his way to the check-out. (He should carry an epi-pen) Thanks for your healthy hint. We have nettles, too, ouch!and, yeah, we should all wear shoes!!


  • At July 18, 2009 at 4:55 PM , Blogger Diane Hopkins said...

    I don't know why not Extra Virgin Olive Oil! The recipe I have and trust just says don't use it. ??? But when I look at all the plantain salves and ointments on the market, they use extra virgin. I just spent about an hour on the internet searching for the answer to that question, and cannot find any information on it. Uncle!

  • At July 19, 2009 at 7:33 AM , Blogger Jen said...

    Thanks for this informative post! Since reading it the other day, I have been noticing all the plantain in my yard, and even told my husband about it!

  • At July 19, 2009 at 6:55 PM , Blogger Edie said...


    Thank you so much for this post! We made use of this information just this morning. My 2 yr old son got stung six times by yellow jackets in our church play area. He was stung on the neck and near the ear and four times on one leg. His face had begun to swell and so had his leg. We rushed him home and immediately put your suggested poultice on the stings. My daughter and I had earlier in the week found the plantains in our yard when we talked about your letter. She ran out into the yard and picked the leaves while I carried our ds into the house. Praise the Lord! He always equips us for our time of need. Your post was truly God's timing. We wouldn't have known otherwise. The swelling and redness went down very quickly. He hardly has any marks now where he was stung.

  • At July 22, 2009 at 1:34 AM , Blogger Momma Sarah said...

    Oh, I wish I had read this sooner! My youngest and oldest 'found' a hornets nest near our house. Knowing about this would have helped... but, now I know! Thanks!

  • At July 31, 2009 at 8:23 PM , Blogger Mrs. Brooke said...

    I am so lucky to know you Diane! Your herbal wisdom helped us out so much today when my little one was stung! Thank you so much!


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