Dealing with common summer bummers. Use these tips to begin building your home herbal first aid kit

Bites and Stings

Whether it is a tick, chigger, spider or horsefly bite, or a bee, wasp or mosquito sting, your body will benefit by applying a thin paste of bentonite clay (other clays work as well). Mix the clay with just enough water to form a thin paste to which you can also add an essential oil or herbal tincture. The clay will cool the sting and draw toxins out of the wound, while the essential oil disinfects and heals it. Essential oils of oregano or thyme are helpful for tick, chigger and spider bites where the poison of the bite can lead to secondary infection. These oils are strong and not used alone on the skin but fine for those over age 12 to add as a drop or two mixed into the clay. For younger folks, you can add a strong tea of these herbs as your mixing water or crush plantain leaf into the mix, or add a few drops of tincture (note: if skin becomes unduly irritated, remove and make a simple clay poultice). You can also include some tincture of Echinacea to assist immune response, while also taking it internally.

For other bites and stings, use a combination of lavender oil (also disinfecting) and peppermint oil (or crushed peppermint) to relieve the itch and sting. Let the clay paste dry on and reapply once or twice a day as needed. The clay will also help draw out heads and stingers that might have been left in the skin. Helpful homeopathy to take internally that can enhance your treatment are: Ledum 6 or 12x/c for bites and Apis 6 or 12x/c for stings. These small homeopathic pills or tablets are tipped back into the mouth and taken under the tongue.

Bentonite clay can also be mixed with water or peppermint tea and plantain leaf tea to make a paste you can paint on any area you have skin irritation – especially poison oak, poison ivy or poison sumac. By covering the skin with clay, you help to dry it out by drawing oils out of pores – these are the plant oils that cause itching and adding other oils or lotion to them only helps them spread. Internal homeopathic aid for treatment would be Rhus tox (for poison oak/ivy), Urtica or Crotontiglia.

Keep a jar of dry clay in your first aid kit so you have it on hand for rapid treatment.