During the warm season the environment is teeming with all kinds of critters that bite and sting. Some do so for food and others do so for protection/defense. Either way, those bites and stings can be irritating and downright dangerous. Of course the best way to avoid such stings and bites is to heighten awareness levels, move slower and work to become the environment verses just a passing visitor, but this takes time and diligence to accomplish. In the meantime most people run the risk to bumping into a critter with a nasty sting or bite by accident.
Not all stings and bites are the same. Each critter contains its own potent mix of chemicals for their defense mechanism and therefore each creates a unique reaction in the human body. Yes of course some people are allergic to the chemical cocktails and so react far more severely than others, but everyone reacts in some fashion. If they did not, the critter who did the biting or stinging would be wasting its energy.
This brings me to how to deal with select stings and bites from various critters. Some bites are very acidic and others are more alkaline in nature. This is why antidotes for stings and bites are either in an acidic base or alkaline base. Generally speaking you counteract an acidic sting with an alkaline substance and an alkaline sting with an acidic substance. The opposite neutralizes the other. With that in mind it is important to understand that in some cases there are substances that can neutralize both alkaline and acid based venom. Let us take a look.
Plants are a major source of irritants. In my poison ivy article I described how alcohol, acid, works to bind the toxic sap and neutralize it. However, not all plants emit the same chemicals, so alcohol will not work for every plant irritant. The first thing for any plant contact containing chemical irritants is to flush the area with copious amounts of water. Next you can use the following essential oils directly on the skin undiluted: lavender, chamomile or eucalyptus. You can place one of them in a cold compress if you have the time and materials, but they can be used directly as well. Just two drops of one of those essential oils can neutralize most plant toxins on the skin and remove the irritation either instantly or up to an hour or two depending upon the chemical and amount of exposure.
Bees, Wasps and Hornets are all a little different from one another in chemical compounds. While bees are mainly acidic in nature, wasps and hornets are alkaline, so their mainstream antidotes vary in chemical base. However, chamomile essential oil and lavender essential oil can both be used directly on a sting from wasp, hornet or bee. While bees leave stingers behind and die afterward, wasps and hornets keep their stingers to sting again.
The first thing to be done with a bee sting is to carefully remove the stinger if one can by gently scraping it off, not pulling it out. Pulling it out can squeeze the venom pouch still connected to the stinger and inject more venom into the bloodstream. Then apply a cold compress if you can with chamomile essential oil. Replace as necessary for up to a few hours. Afterward you can use chamomile essential oil directly on the bite a few times a day until healed.
If you get stung by a hornet or wasp you can mix chamomile and lavender essential oils into vinegar (cider vinegar is best) and blot the solution onto the sting site 3-4 times per day until healed.
For wasp, hornet or bee stings you can also use a poultice of common or seaside plantain leaves over the sting site to draw out venom. Then you can drink plantain, horsetail and yarrow leaf tea, as hot as you can stand it, 2-4 cups per day. Echinacea tincture accompanying those teas can also greatly assist with healing.
Spiders can also deliver a powerful punch with their bite. Placing chamomile and lavender essential oils in alcohol and applying it to the bite can neutralize the venom. 3 drops of lavender and 2 drops of chamomile in a teaspoon of vodka works wonders! Lavender essential oil can literally neutralize the venom of the black widow.
Like above you can also use a poultice of common or seaside plantain leaves over the sting site to draw out venom. Then you can drink plantain, horsetail and yarrow leaf tea, as hot as you can stand it, 2-4 cups per day. Echinacea tincture accompanying those teas can also greatly assist with healing. Using the above compress combined with Calendula ointment and Echinacea tincture can even heal a bite from a brown recluse spider.
Snakes can be real buggers when they bite you! There are typically two kinds of snake bites, one that paralyzes the nervous system, neurotoxicity and one that dissolves flesh, necrosis. One is just as bad as the other. With hundreds of poisonous snake species around the globe there are a wide variety of symptoms associate with each. Some overlap while others are specific to that species of snake and its toxin.
Typically an immediate emergency room visit is in order with any poisonous snake bite! If you need to wait for help to come to you the best thing is to keep the bitten person lying down, calm and with the bitten area elevated below the level of the heart. Remove all constricting items from the person, belts, tight waistbands, etc. Try flushing the bite area with as much of any kind of liquid as you can. Move the body and bitten area as little as possible to avoid increasing the venom flow through the blood. If you have snake bite kit, use it to suction venom out of the wound, but do not suck out the venom you’re your mouth because any open sore in your mouth will allow the venom to enter your own bloodstream. If you have a bottle of lavender essential oil, pour as much on the bite as you can, as often as you can. If you have access to plantain tincture, black cohosh tincture and yarrow tincture (in your first aid kit), give 20 drops of each internally. Plantain – every 5 minutes, yarrow – every 15 minutes and black cohosh 3 times per day. Use a plantain poultice over the bite and chance every two hours.
Black cohosh is an antidote to many poisons in the blood. This is an essential tincture for any first aid kit. It can neutralize poisons of many snakes, scorpions and other poisons that enter the blood.
Scorpion stings can be mere irritants or life-threatening instances. Use the above listed protocols for scorpion stings as you would for snakes and seek help.
Fish can also possess poisons and some are the most toxic natural venoms on earth! If you get nailed by a fish with spines, you need to first remove the spines as some fish leave them embedded in their victims like porcupines. Rinse the area with copious amounts of salt water, since most spined venom fish live in salt water. Use thyme essential oil directly on the spine puncture sites. Take Black cohosh tincture, 20 drops internally. Get medical help as required.
If it is a fish sting you can wash the sting site with salt or fresh water. Then use chamomile essential oil directly on the sting area to help neutralize the venom. If however it is the sting of a man-of-war you need to remove the tentacles, rinse the area with liquid, douse the sting region with lavender essential oil, take Black Cohosh tincture internally and get the person to a medical facility as soon as possible. Re-apply the lavender oil as soon as their skin absorbs it. They can go into shock, so you could have to deal with that as well as vomiting and severe cramping. It is a nasty business.
Other jellyfish stings can be washed with water and doused with lavender and chamomile essential oils. Cooling the area also works very well with the oil application.
Chiggers are nasty little pieces of work as they burrow into the skin and lay eggs. Using thyme essential oil in alcohol, 10 drops thyme to a teaspoon alcohol, apply the solution to the infected areas every three to four hours. The next day wash the areas with lavender oil three times a day until healed.
Fleas are annoying things. Wash flea bites with lavender essential oil or eucalyptus essential oil. If you do not have either you can use three drops of thyme essential oil in cider vinegar and wash the bitten areas.
Mosquitoes and Midges are certainly an issue in late spring and summer months. Lavender directly in the bites can help for some, but not always. You can use 3 drops of thyme essential oil in 1 teaspoon of cider vinegar to combat the itching and swelling. For large amounts of bites use either lemon juice or cider vinegar, 1 cup and add 15 drops of lavender and 6 drops of thyme essential oils to it. Mix this solution into a cool bath and get in there and soak for about 15 or 20 minutes. When you get out rub your body down with a solution of 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, 10 drops of thyme, 10 drops of lavender and 10 drops of eucalyptus essential oils.
Though nature has certainly evolved to protect herself on many fronts, she has also created antidotes to help those unfortunate enough to fall prey to her venom’s. My recommendation is when you leave your home carry a small first aid kit containing the following liquids:
Lavender essential oil
Chamomile essential oil
Thyme essential oil
Eucalyptus essential oil
Alcohol –vodka, etc.
Black Cohosh tincture
If you are snake country I also recommend a snake bite kit. Sure your fist aid kit can contain many things, but as far as bites and stings go, those are essentials to cover all kinds of venom’s from all kinds of biting and stinging critters. You can also cake most any type of clay over a bite or sting to draw out the venom and it can work quite well with most of them. Face clay or calcium bentonite clay can easily be mixed up, placed in a small container and placed in your first aid kit. I also recommend adding a small concise list of instructions as to which oil to use for which venom. Laminate it so it is waterproof and stick it in there. All of those ingredients last a long time, have a long shelf life.
Plants – water rinse then lavender, chamomile or eucalyptus direct
Bees – remove stinger, cold compress of chamomile
Wasp/Hornet – chamomile & lavender in cider vinegar
Spiders – chamomile & lavender in alcohol
Snakes – lie down, elevate bite, rinse, lavender wash, plantain/yarrow/black cohosh tincture
Scorpions – same as snakes
Fish barbs – remove barb, rinse, thyme oil, black cohosh tincture
Fish tentacles – remove tentacles, rinse, chamomile direct
Chiggers – thyme in alcohol, then lavender next day
Fleas – wash with lavender or eucalyptus or thyme in cider vinegar
Ticks – remove carefully, rinse with water, apply lavender direct
Mosquitoes & Midges – thyme in cider vinegar or lemon juice w/ lavender & thyme
You can use black cohosh tincture with all and plantain poultice with all as well. You can also use clay over most bites/stings after washing the area.