How to Survive a Summer in the Wilderness: Remedies from a Thorny Land
This started out as a simple post on Summer Skin Remedies for this month’s blogparty but somehow dramatically expanded… I also have a previous post on treating injuries that is in a similar vein.
Sunburn: I haven’t found anything better than Rose petal vinegar, diluted 1:4 in water and applied as a fomentation every few hours. It usually takes the heat and pain out very rapidly. The next step is Prickly Pear gel (or aloe) application and as the skin begins to heal and then a moistening, healing salve of White Sage, Elder leaf & flower and Plantain. Do not apply oils or oil based products to any burn that is still hot, it will only hold the heat in.
Burns: First, cool the area with lukewarm to cool water (never never never ice). Then apply diluted tinctures of Rose, Cottonwood and White Sage (or Monarda). Lavender essential oil (neat) or diluted tincture will also work well. Later on, compresses of Mallow and Elderflower can be very soothing. When all heat is gone from the skin then you can use a salve of Plantain, Sage and Cottonwood to speed healing.
Spider and other venomous, itchy bites: Plantain & Yarrow spit poultices are great here, have the person make their own poultice and ask them to swallow the leftover juice in their mouth as that will significantly shorten the reaction time. Tinctures can work if fresh plant isn’t available. If it is a serious bite, add Creosote bush internally and externally, amazing stuff for bite and sting reactions. Osha can also work to slow allergic reactions to venom. For more minor but painful bites, like those of ants, try Evening Primrose or Rose tinctures externally, if they start to swell eat some fresh Yarrow leaves or take a few drops of tincture. For itchy, evil mosquito and horsefly bites try Wild Rose Petal tincture.
Poison Ivy: First, get all that volatile washed off with soap and water. Then, apply diluted vinegar or tinctures of Mugwort (make sure you don’t have an Aster allergy first of course), Plantain, Yarrow and Rose leaf/petal. Oatmeal, Mallow and Rose petal baths can be helpful too.
Random rashes and contact dermatitis: Mugwort, Alder, Yarrow & Elder flower applied any way you like.
Swimmer’s Ear: For just about any ear infections I use a couple drops of Elderberry/Mullein flower tincture or oil depending on whether condition needs moistening or drying. Of course, don’t stick anything in your ear if you suspect that the eardrum might be perforated.
Sprains, Strains & Sore Muscles: Some people suggest ice but I try not to overcool the area. Instead I usually rub the area down with oils of Goldenrod, Rose, Cottonwood & Comfrey (or any of these singly, depending upon the situation and what you have available). Poultices, fomentations and baths can all be used as well. Mugwort is another fine herb for this purpose, gets the chi moving and is very healing. And come to think of it, Evening Primrose and Monkeyflower also work nicely here. Use Cottonwood, Evening Primrose and your nervine/antispasmodic of choice internally if there’s pain and spasms. You can use Prickly Poppy internally if the pain is very bad.
Wounds, cuts & scratches: The possibilities are endless. My favorites are Sage, Rose, Elder leaf, Mallow, Plantain or whatever else is around. Mugwort is probably my most frequently used plant on any minor injury, bite or strain. Goldenrod and Monarda are just lovely too.
Splinters: Plantain, Mallow and Pine Pitch are my favorites, just make poultice and tape it on after cleaning the area.
Traveler’s Diarrhea: Tincture or tea of Creosote Bush, Mugwort and Alder (and optionally, Honeysuckle). Yes, it will taste awful and yes, it will help. Accompany this with a tea of Mallow, Elderberry, Plantain and Rose to soothe your belly, balance your immune system and help restore a healthy balance of bacteria. Evening Primrose will also help heal the gut and stop cramping but may make you sleepy.
Heat Headaches: First, hydrate yourself. If you’re feeling electrolyte imbalance you can take of the weird fizzy stuff (EmergenC) of you can dissolve some honey and salt in water and drink it, or have a Nettle infusion. An iced tea of Mallow, Rose and Elderberry can keep you cool and moist and prevent the whole thing. To ease the actual headache try some Lavender or Sage or Cottonwood. Sticking your head in a cold river helps a lot too.
There’s much much more but I think this is a nice start, I’ll probably add to this subject during the Summer as new incidents happen, focusing on one kind of injury at a time rather than attempting to generalize myself to death. It’s so lovely to know that we’re almost always surrounded by a crowd of healing herbs.