Here is an article I wrote for WikiHow on How to make a plantain poultice.
If you have been stung by a bee or bitten by an insect or even an animal like a snake, plantain poultices can help. Plantain poultices can draw out venom before it has a chance to do damage, can reduce swelling, prevent anaphalactic shock, or delay a severe reaction until medical care can be reached.
- Find plantain growing. You are not looking for the banana relative, but Plantago major, a flat plant with a rosette of smooth green leaves that have distinctive vertical ribbing- something like a weedy version of a hosta, although usually smaller. They grow in lawns, under shrubs, in weedy places and in sidewalk cracks. They do not have poisonous look alikes. There is a picture at http://www.acupuncturebrooklyn.com/herbal-articles-by-karen-vaughan/plantain-and-how-to-make-a-spit-poultice
- Pick several large leaves and clean them off.
- Put the leaves into your mouth and start chewing. They should have a mild “green” taste. It is best that the injured person chew his own leaves, for sanitary reasons and also because it helps to swallow some of the juices of the leaves during the process. The enzymes in saliva help break down the leaves so the constituents are available.
- Take the green mash and glop it over the bite and any inflamed area around it.
- Cover loosely with a bandage. It helps not to completely occlude the poultice because the drying helps exert a drawing action.
- Reapply as the poultice dries, to enhance the drawing action. You can also reapply if the area starts swelling again. Throw away the old poultice.
- If your tongue or airways start swelling up, call 911 and reapply. Chewing the leaves and making and reapplying the poultice can buy you time.
- Chew for a few minutes until you have a green mash.
Here is a video that shows you how to make and use a plantain poultice by Karen Vaughan of www.acupuncturebrooklyn.com
- Plantain leaves look a bit like a weedy hosta, often with a spike that is covered with seeds. You distinguish it from a hosta by its rather thin leaf, its inoffensive taste and its weedy nature.
- Plantain is antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, soothing, drawing, and moistening. It contains soothing allantoin, anti-inflammatory baicalein and scutellarin, antibacterial catalpol, phenolic chlorogenic acid, and astringent tannins.
- Mashed plantain is also good for the skin.
- The root can be added to the poultice if there is bleeding.
- You can also make spit poultices from other plants like self heal (Prunella vulgaris)which excels for splinters, violet leaves which are slightly analgesic, or the roots of the coneflowers echinacea or black eyed Susan (rudbeckia). If you see nothing useful, clay or mud will work to physically draw until you can get proper first aid.
- If you have a tendency to anaphalactic shock from bee stings, know that plantain poultices do not necessarily prevent this from happening. I have seen it either prevent the shock or delay it for as many as five hours. This can give you time to get medical attention or an Epi-pen.
- Bites from brown recluse spiders or venomous snakes usually require medical attention. Use the poultice first, but do not necessarily depend upon it as a sole treatment.
- If possible identify or capture the animal that bit you for further testing.
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