Today I got to experiment first-hand with a remedy for Stinging Nettle stings. Some nettle was growing in my mint patch and though I am aware of it and am careful when harvesting mint, my guests may not. I was tidying up that patch and thought I’d relocate the three nettle plants to the nettle patch (out of the way in the back of the property, behind the fence).
Tip: just wearing gloves and a short sleeved shirt is not ample protection.
I got stung badly on the bare arm and then, through the glove, on a finger. The blisters and the itch formed immediately. I ran out back to our “lawn” (more like a clover patch) and picked some plantain leaves, crushed them in a mortar and applied them as a poultice.
If memory serves, the blisters and itch can last many hours. The itch was abolished instantly, and the blisters were gone after 5 minutes of applying the leaf.
Just over the weekend a friend and I were talking about herbal medicine. He didn’t quite “believe in it”. Turns out that what he doesn’t believe in is that plants can have a beneficial effect. That some are detrimental and poisonous, or that their malevolent effect can indeed be instant – e.g., Stinging Nettle – he had no problem accepting.
When I pointed this out it was a revelation. All our trust in the benefits of plants has been taken away by the pharmaceuticals. All that remains is the other side of the coin. A weird coin it is now, hanging there in people’s minds, in our culture…