What happens when you are out hiking or camping this summer around Peterborough and the Kawarthas and forget your first aid kit at home? You use plants of course! Peterborough was blessed by mother nature. It is very easy to find everything we need to treat those scrapes, bumps and bruises this summer. Lets go on a little herb walk together.
We know this plant all too well. It grows in the cracks in the sidewalk or along the side of our driveway. Say hello to plantain, not plant related to bananas. This weed, as we usually refer to it, can be used to stop stings, stop itching, heal wounds, and relieve pain. Take the leaves, you can crush them with your teeth to form a paste. You can also pound the leaves between two stones or roll them in your fingers to get the same effect. Apply directly to the wound, be it a cut, mosquito bite, or bee sting.
Yarrow can be used to stopping bleeding. Crush the little white flowers or leaves into a powder or paste and apply on a cut. This plant is found growing wild in open fields and forests. You can identify it by it groupings of little white flowers and leaves that look like a cross between pine needles and juniper leaves. Be careful not to confuse this plant with Poison Hemlock! The stem of this poisonous plant is purple or has purple dots. It can also be confused with Queen Anne’s Lace (aka wild carrot). Wild carrot has a large umbrella of white lacy flowers and stems with tiny hairs.
Calendula has become very popular for use on wounds, but did you know that the common name for calendula is marigold! Many people grow this plan in their gardens because of the bright, beautiful colours. This herb can be used to help reduce inflammation, soothe burns, and speed healing of wounds. Roll a few flower petals between your fingers, or use two rocks to create a pulp. Apply the pulp to the wound or burn.
Comfrey is among the oldest herbs used for first aid. This plant can be identified by its pretty purple hanging flowers that are tubular in shape. Crush the leaves of this plant between your fingers or two rocks. Do not use your teeth as comfrey contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are toxic to the liver when ingested over a long period of time. Don’t worry, it is safe to use topically! Apply the paste liberally to bruises or muscle sprains.
Thankfully, these herbs can also be bought as pre-made salves. You can put them together in a little toolbox and make your very own herbal first aid kit. If you happen to forget it at home I have provided you with the knowledge to help you find what you need to treat those bumps and bruises that frequently happen this time of year.
Here is to a safe and happy summer!
Disclaimer: All material provided in this article is provided for informational or educational purposes only, and is not intended as a substitute for the advice of you health care provider.