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Herbs for Venomous Stings and Bites

 
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Herbs for Venomous Stings and Bites
From Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People:



First of all, I need to address anaphylaxis. This is an extreme allergic reaction that can be to anything from eating shellfish to a bee sting. While there are some herbs that may be useful, this condition is just too serious, and comes on too fast not to use pharmaceuticals. Anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock are deadly conditions. The throat or tongue can swell so fast and so dramatically that the person cannot breathe and dies from what may be a minor sting or allergy in another person. Unfortunately, all I can in good conscience recommend is standard, mainstream first aid - EpiPens and Benadryl.... and call 911. Ephedra from Ma Huang or Mormon Tea, Caffeine from Coffee or Tea, Nicotine from tobacco and Lobelia could all help the respiratory system in such an incidence, but would be of little to no help if the throat is swelling shut.

Now, let's go to the other end of the spectrum. A normal reaction to bee, wasp, hornet, yellow jacket, etc. stings are usually just painful. The stung area will usually redden and swell. The person may feel fevered or nauseous. But, a sting or two is normally not life threatening.

The best and most convenient treatment for such minor stings is a "Spit Poultice" of Tobacco or Plantain. Tobacco is the superior herb. Just a bit, chewed up and applied to the sting will greatly reduce the pain, swelling and inflammation. Plantain will do the same, but not as dramatically. Plantain may also help draw out the venom. I always take some tobacco with me in the woods or field. Plantain is usually a common growing wild where I live.

Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum), Plantain (Plantain Family), Lobelia (Lobelia inflata)

A couple of years ago, I stumbled over a hornet's nest hidden under a stump. I never saw anything coming at me, but felt as if I had been shot. On hornet stung me on my left nipple, just by my heart another one got me on the neck, and one stung my thumb, directly on a vein! Very quickly, a minor sting became serious due to where I was stung. The venom was going right into the bloodstream and to the heart. I could feel the effects of the stings hit my lungs and heart, hard. My heart rate became irregular, breathing labored and shallow and blood pressure dropping. This was not good, and I was miles away from help. I had a twist of natural, burley tobacco in my pocket. Immediately, I bit off a chunk and began chewing it. I also had some Benadryl tablets in my bag and some BC Powders. I also had some bourbon. I washed down the Benadryl and BC with a couple of swallows of bourbon and began looking around. There was Broad Leaved Plantain. I chewed some up, combined it with tobacco and put it on the stings, using a moistened whole leave of plantain to act as a bandage over the spit poultices. Plantain works well as a natural band aid used this way. The pain stopped quickly. The caffeine and aspirin in the BC powder, combined with nicotine, and the fact that I kept going, hiking at a steady pace, kept me from going into shock. The bourbon and aspirin normalized my heart rate. My lungs were still going crazy though, burning as the Benadryl takes 15-30 minutes to take effect. I spotted some Lobelia and I simply ate the entire plant! Lobelia is a plant that contains nicotine-like compounds. It eases the lungs, dilates the bronchioles and, in high doses, will cause vomiting. I didn't want to puke, but figured it might do me some good if I did. Fortunately, being used to both tobacco and lobelia, I did not throw up. Lobelia is also very effective to prevent shock. So, that was all I could do with what I had. Thank God, I was prepared. I have had asthma since I was 3 years old, so I learned the hard way to always carry a few things just in case. This time, it likely saved my life. I kept hiking home and made it back just fine.

Other herbs used for insect stings include:

Sage (Salvia officinalis) is the Common or Garden Sage of Europe. It is the herb we use in sausage. It is not the American white sage or sagebrush. It is of this sage that the ancients said, "Why should a man die if he has sage in his garden?", believing it to be a cure-all. It is this sage that, according to legend was blessed by the Mother of God, saying "From here until eternity, you will be the favorite flower of mankind. I give you the power to heal man of all illnesses and save him from death as you have done for me", as the sage was the plant that hid the Holy family at one point during their escape from Herod's troops. The Blessed Virgin Mary appears frequently in herbal lore and history, having been credited with blessing several herbs. Whether true, or a matter of legend, it is likely no coincidence that these herbs are generally among the most useful for the ailments that plague the brothers and sisters of Christ even in modern times. We will discuss many uses for Sage in future chapters. For insect bites and stings, Sage may be crushed and applied as a poultice, much like plantain.

Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris) may be used externally as an astringent wash to reduce inflammation, pain and itching of stings. This herb, also, is associated with Our Lady. Lady's Mantle is particularly useful for women, and we will discuss its many virtues later.

Stinking Chamomile (Anthemis cotula) leaves rubbed on insect stings may ease pain and inflammation. For some folks though, it may cause an allergic rash.

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) has been used specifically for caterpillar stings

Goat's Beard (Aruncus diocus) root poultice has been traditionally used by the Cherokee for bee stings.

Red Trillium has been traditionally used externally for both insect stings and snake bites. Trilliums can be fairly rare in many places. They grow abundantly where I live, in the Appalachian mountains, but I still rarely harvest them. They are not endangered, but they just don't grow in most places. Each plant has three leaves, the flower has three petals and produces three seeds. They bloom at Easter. In Appalachian tradition, they have obvious Christian significance. The plant dies very quickly after going to seed, so to harvest the plant usually means that it will not seed. The few I do harvest are those that would be destroyed anyway - those that grow in paths, in areas prone to flooding or where real estate will be developed. Of course, if I needed one to treat a snake bite, such ethics of harvesting would be disregarded. However, I am not entirely sure how Trillium was used by early American physicians. Having done a great deal of research, I can only find its properties that would be useful to stings and bites as astringent and antiseptic. So, I would just grab some oak, pine or thuja - why dig up such a unique little plant that can only be found briefly, when the trees are all around us and are probably more effective?

Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginia) is another Native American remedy for insect bites and stings, applied as a poultice of the mashed-up plant.

Wild Lettuce (Lactuca biennis) is a common weed from which our salad lettuces were derived. It looks very little like any lettuce you would recognize, in fact, it grows into a tall stalk. The milky sap of that stalk works as a mild, opium-like pian killer for some folks, but does nothing for others. The leaves have been used as a soothing poultice for stings. Its close relative, Prickly Lettuce, would likely not be soothing due to the prickles.

Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa) has been found useful for insect stings and spider bites. Wild Yam. by the way, is not at all related to the sweet potato, but is often used in plant based hormonal products for women.

Labrador Tea (Ledum groenlandicum) has been used externally, as a wash for sores, burns, ulcers and stings.



Spiders specifically

Most spider bites may be treated the same as insect stings. The exceptions are those that are extremely venomous.

Two spiders common to America that cause particular trouble are the Brown Recluse and the Hobo Spider. These spiders have a necrotizing venom like that of many venomous snakes. This venom breaks down tissue, essentially pre-digesting it. Their bites are rarely fatal unless infection occurs. However, long after being bitten the venom continues to erode skin, muscle and connective tissue, often causing devastating wounds.

As with all venomous bites, the procedure begins with cleaning and disinfecting. Then, a Drawing Poultice is applied. See instructions for poultices under that section. Good drawing poultices can be made from Plantain, Prickly Pear Cactus pads (de-spined, pealed and mashed up) clay or charcoal.

Echinacea is the best herb to combat such necrotizing venom. As mentioned before, "Snake Oil" was actually an herbal medicine made from Echinacea, that is still more useful in preventing such tissue damage than any pharmaceutical known. Echinacea promotes the production and protection of hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid has been described as the "mortar that holds our cells together." As the main tissue damaging action of the venom is to destroy hyaluronic acid, Echinacea should be taken internally and used externally immediately and for a time even after the wound is completely healed. I strongly suggest everyone keep a large amount of Echinacea on hand - any variety will do. As Echinacea is a popular and attractive ornamental/landscape flower, this really is not difficult. Its varieties are diverse enough to grow in nearly any climate. The Purple Coneflower is most common where I live. Echinacea is also antiviral. This is one of the essential herbs that you should be growing.

I have never been bitten by a poisonous snake or spider. However, my friend (and occasional employer) Marjory Wildcraft has. Marjory was bitten on the foot by a copperhead snake. She treated it at home, mainly using poultices. She fully recovered with no lasting damage. Her story and instructions on how to treat such a bite are available at The Grow Network, in her eBook, "SNAKEBITE! How I Successfully Treated a Venomous Snakebite At Home, The 5 Essential Preparations You Need to Have". (thegrownetwork.com).

Other herbs for Spider Bites:

Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) This plant that is among the most hated weeds of farmers, has many herbal uses. The cold leaf tea has been used by Native American as a wash for spider bites.

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) Leaf is used as a poultice on snake and spider bites.

Wood Lily (Lilium philadelphicum) Flowers are used as a poultice for spider bites.

Wild Yam is also useful for spider bites.

Other herbs used for snakebite

Wild Calla or Water Arum (Calla palustris) Native Americans used the root as a poultice for snakebites.

Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium) The name says it all with this one. This has traditionally been one of the primary herbs used as a poultice by Native Americans for snakebite.

Downy Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens) Ditto on the above. Although not a true plantain, this herb was once widely used for snakebite. Now, it is too rare to harvest.

Garlic has long folk use taken both internally and used as a poultice for snakebite.

Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) Tincture has been used for snake bites.

Snake Root (Sanicula marilandica) the root was used by Native Americans as a poultice for snake bite.

Most of these herbs that have "snake" in the common name were learned from Native Americans by early European settlers. If a settler was bitten, and someone had enough sense to ask a native what native herb to use, any number of herbs that would be known as "snake medicine" would be recommended. So, these common names developed as somewhat of a shorthand.

Flowering Spurge (Euphorbia root poultice used for snakebite.

White Snakeroot (Eupatorium rugosum) No surprise here... Native Americans used the root as a poultice for snakebites.

Plantain-Leaved Pussytoes (Antennaria plantagnifolia) leaves used as a poultice for snakebite.

Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris) The Ojibwas made a tea of the leaves mixed with maple sugar, that according to the Peterson Field Guide Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, was popular among settlers, being used both for coughs and as an antidote for snake venom.

Saint Andrew's Cross (Hypericum hypericoides) Native Americans chewed the root for snake bites.

Perfoliate Bellwort (Uvularia perfoliata) root tea used for snakebites.

False Aloe (Manfreda virginica), also called Rattlesnake Master but not the same plant. Root tea used as a wash for snakebites.

Fennel (Foeniculum) powdered seeds used in China as a poultice for snakebite.

Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) Flower tea used for snakebites.

Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) This is a close relative to Echinacea and can be used similarly.

Rattlesnake Weed (Hieracium venosum) Tea of leaves and roots used as a snakebite remedy.

Sunflower - as referenced under spider bites, used also for snakebites. Canada Lily (Lilium canadense) root poultice used for snake bites.

Feverwort (Triosteum perfoliatum) root poultice for snakebite.

Tobacco is used as described under insect stings, as a Spit Poultice to reduce swelling and ease pain.

Burdock (Arctium) Crushed seeds poulticed for snakebite.

Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium reptans) Root tea used for snakebite.

Wild Ipecac (Euphorbia ipecacuanhae) poulticed root used on snakebites.

Virginia Snakeroot (Aristolochia serpentaria) root tea used for snakebites.

Common Juniper (Juniperus communis) fruits used both internally and externally for snakebite.

New Jersey Tea or Red Root ( Ceanothus americanus) root teas used for snakebites.

American Ash (Fraxinus americana) inner bark tea used for snakebites.

Common Catalpa ( Catalpa bignonioides) Bark tea has folk use as a snakebite antidote.

Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera) Native Americans used bark tea for snake bites.

Dutchman's Pipe (Aristolochia tomentosa) Leaf tea used for snakebite.

Venus Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris) has been used traditionally as a poultice for snakebites.

Rattlesnake Fern (Botyrychium virginianum) You guessed it - Native Americans used the root as a poultice for snakebites.

Swedish Bitters Again. You may recall that one of the ingredients listed in Swedish Bitters was Theriac. It is likely that all Bitters have their origin in this ancient formula. According to Wiki:

According to legends, the history of theriac begins with the king Mithridates VI of Pontus who experimented with poisons and antidotes on his prisoners. His numerous toxicity experiments eventually led him to declare that he had discovered an antidote for every venomous reptile and poisonous substance. He mixed all the effective antidotes into a single one, mithridatium or mithridate. Mithridate contained opium, myrrh, saffron, ginger, cinnamon and castor, along with some forty other ingredients. When the Romans defeated him, his medical notes fell into their hands and Roman medici began to use them. Emperor Nero's physician Andromachus improved upon mithridatum by bringing the total number of ingredients to sixty-four, including viper's flesh, a mashed decoction of which, first roasted then well aged, proved the most constant ingredient. Lise Manniche, however, links the origins of theriac to the ancient Egyptian kyphi recipe, which was also used medicinally.

Greek physician Galen devoted a whole book Theriaké to theriac. One of his patients, Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, took it on a regular basis.

In 667, ambassadors from Rûm presented the Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty in China with a theriac. The Chinese observed that it contained the gall of swine, was dark red in colour and the foreigners seemed to respect it greatly. The Tang pharmacologist Su Kung noted that it had proved its usefulness against "the hundred ailments." Whether this panacea contained the traditional ingredients such as opium, myrrh and hemp, is not known.

In the Middle East, theriac was known as Tiryaq, and makers of it were known as Tiryaqi.

In medieval London, the preparation arrived on galleys from the Mediterranean, under the watchful eye of the Worshipful Company of Grocers. Theriac, the most expensive of medicaments, was called Venice treacle by the English apothecaries.

At the time of the Black Death in the mid 14th century, Gentile da Foligno, who died of the plague in June 1348, recommended in his plague treatise that the theriac should have been aged at least a year. Children should not ingest it, he thought, but have it rubbed on them in a salve.

In 1669, the famous French apothecary, Moyse Charas, published the formula for theriac, seeking to break the monopoly held by the Venetians at that time on the medication, thereby opening up the transfer of medical information.


You may also recall that the Swedish Bitters formula may have been created by "Paracelsus", who pioneered the use of toxic substances to treat illnesses, in somewhat of the "like cures like" philosophy of the Homeopaths who would come centuries later. It seems that although he remained a faithful and devout Christian until death, and an outspoken Catholic, he did thorough investigation into ancient, pre-Christian medical traditions and alchemy. Perhaps, in his search to find the gold among the dross, he created the Swedish Bitters as a (to his time) modern theriac? No one knows. But, the Swedish Bitters were recommended against the bites and stings of venomous animals. I can say, for sure, that I would not hesitate to use a Swedish Bitters poultice on any wound, bite, sting, etc. It may not be a universal cure or anecdote, but I honestly have not found anything that comes closer - it always seems to do some good for most any condition.



Lyme Disease

The best thing I can do under this topic is to recommend a book by Stephen Harrod Buhner, called Healing Lyme. I also recommend his books on herbal antivirals, herbal antibiotics and herbal beers. Although some of his work is fairly "far out", his books such as those I recommend are meticulously researched, based in hard science and written with what I can only describe as Germanic precision and attention to detail. Lyme is an extremely serious disease. The treatment of Lyme, whether using herbs or "modern" medicine requires a complete lifestyle change based on therapeutics. It is much like cancer in the intense treatment protocols.



Author: Judson Carroll.  Judson Carroll is an Herbalist from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. His weekly articles may be read at http://southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/

His weekly podcast may be heard at: www.spreaker.com/show/southern-appalachian-herbs


He offers free, weekly herb classes: https://rumble.com/c/c-618325





This article is an excerpt from Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People by Judson Carroll




You can read about and purchase Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People here: southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/2021/10/herbal-medicine-for-preppers.html

Also available on Amazon: Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People: Carroll, Judson: 9798491252923: Amazon.com: Books



His New Book is Christian Herbal Medicine, History and Practice



Read about his new book, Christian Medicine, History and Practice: https://southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/2022/01/christian-herbal-medicine-history-and.html

Available for purchase on Amazon: www.amazon.com/dp/B09P7RNCTB
His other works include:

Look Up: The Medicinal Trees of the American South, An Herbalist's Guide: https://southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/2021/06/paypal-safer-easier-way-to-pay-online.html

The Herbs and Weeds of Fr. Johannes Künzle: https://southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/2021/05/announcing-new-book-herbs-and-weeds-of.html





Disclaimer


The information on this site is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease or condition. Nothing on this site has been evaluated or approved by the FDA. I am not a doctor. The US government does not recognize the practice of herbal medicine and their is no governing body regulating herbalists. Therefore, I'm just a guy who studies herbs. I am not offering any advice. I won't even claim that anything I write is accurate or true! I can tell you what herbs have "traditionally been used for." I can tell you my own experience and if I believe an herb helped me. I cannot, nor would I tell you to do the same. If you use any herb I, or anyone else, mentions you are treating yourself. You take full responsibility for your health. Humans are individuals and no two are identical. What works for me may not work for you. You may have an allergy, sensitivity or underlying condition that no one else shares and you don't even know about. Be careful with your health. By continuing to read my blog you agree to be responsible for yourself, do your own research, make your own choices and not to blame me for anything, ever.
 
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Judson Carroll wrote:The best and most convenient treatment for such minor stings is a "Spit Poultice" of Tobacco or Plantain. Tobacco is the superior herb. Just a bit, chewed up and applied to the sting will greatly reduce the pain, swelling and inflammation. Plantain will do the same, but not as dramatically. Plantain may also help draw out the venom. I always take some tobacco with me in the woods or field. Plantain is usually a common growing wild where I live.


I agree that Tobacco does have more immediate, noticeable effects as far as reducing pain and swelling. I think Plantain is still remarkably powerful. A friend told me a story of someone he knew that was in the habit of always putting a Plantain poultice on bee stings right away, but thought maybe it wasn't doing very much. So as an experiment, they skipped it the next time they got stung. They ended up going into anaphylaxis and having to go the ER. Luckily, they were okay. After that, they never skipped the Plantain again. Obviously, this isn't to say one should count on any herb to prevent or treat anaphylaxis. You're absolutely right that being prepared with an epipen if you know you have an allergy and calling 911 is the way to go. I just thought it was interesting to consider that even though an herb might not be having an outwardly visible effect, it could still be having a strong effect. It would also suggest that you're right it may be drawing out the venom, preventing it getting into the system and causing problems.

Thanks as always for sharing great information! I love that you cover so many different herbs that can be helpful.
 
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Heather Sharpe wrote:

Judson Carroll wrote:The best and most convenient treatment for such minor stings is a "Spit Poultice" of Tobacco or Plantain. Tobacco is the superior herb. Just a bit, chewed up and applied to the sting will greatly reduce the pain, swelling and inflammation. Plantain will do the same, but not as dramatically. Plantain may also help draw out the venom. I always take some tobacco with me in the woods or field. Plantain is usually a common growing wild where I live.


I agree that Tobacco does have more immediate, noticeable effects as far as reducing pain and swelling. I think Plantain is still remarkably powerful. A friend told me a story of someone he knew that was in the habit of always putting a Plantain poultice on bee stings right away, but thought maybe it wasn't doing very much. So as an experiment, they skipped it the next time they got stung. They ended up going into anaphylaxis and having to go the ER. Luckily, they were okay. After that, they never skipped the Plantain again. Obviously, this isn't to say one should count on any herb to prevent or treat anaphylaxis. You're absolutely right that being prepared with an epipen if you know you have an allergy and calling 911 is the way to go. I just thought it was interesting to consider that even though an herb might not be having an outwardly visible effect, it could still be having a strong effect. It would also suggest that you're right it may be drawing out the venom, preventing it getting into the system and causing problems.

Thanks as always for sharing great information! I love that you cover so many different herbs that can be helpful.



Thank you for the info.  That is very interesting!  Plantain is subtle in its effects, but definitely useful.  
 
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