It's prime-time bug-bite season in Central Kentucky & here's a simple & effective skin-care tip using a plant that is almost certainly growing in your yard or neighborhood: Plantain. I've spotted Plantain growing everywhere in the U.S. & it's generally regarded a weed (though one of the more common plants you'll see growing in grass with dandelion, which we also know better than to regard as a weed). There are two typical species of Plantain in North America (not to be confused with the banana-shaped fruit of Latin America):
Plants are our allies. Traditionally, our ancestors used plants growing in near-by forests, fields, & growing outside their dwellings to heal themselves. It may seem cliche, but if we are experiencing a health issue, the "treatment" almost always lives near-by. I encourage you to explore & observe the plants that natively grow in the region you reside in & learn their therapeutic uses. Plantain typically grows from spring to early fall, especially flourishing in the heat of summer. Therefore, it excels at stopping the itching, swelling, & pain of summer insect bites (I love Plantain for pesky mosquito bites), but can really soothe any type of irritated, hot, painful, swollen, itchy skin issues. The magic of Plantain is that even a child can run into the yard & use a piece of a leaf when they get a "boo-boo".
Making a supply of home-made Plantain oil for year-round use is super fast & easy. If you have kiddos, this would be a great project for them to get involved in - from the leaf picking to packing the container, to pouring the oil. Similarly to using fresh Plantain, harvest leaves from plants during a sunny, dry time of the day to prevent mold & mildew. Rinse the leaves & allow them to air-dy. Chop the leaves as desired & fill a container that can be closed securely (I like a jar with a resealable lid with a tight rubber seal). Pack the leaves as tightly as possible to the top, fill with your desired oil of choice, & seal the container tightly. Store in a dark, cool location for a minimum of six weeks to allow full integration of the Plantain in the oil. If desired, you can remove the plant matter before using, though the leaves can still be used topically on bites or tender skin. If you do remove the plant matter, remember it can be composted & go right back to Mother Nature!
Choosing the type of oil you use is really up to personal preference. I like Jojoba, Olive, & Sesame oils on the skin as they are lightweight & readily absorbable. Argan & Avocado oils are also wonderful for the skin, but can be rather pricey, so you may not wish to use them if you are making a decent amount of oil. I do recommend organic oils, as anything we put on our skin goes directly into our bodies (if you wouldn't eat it, use it with caution on your skin). Coconut is also a great skin oil, though please note that it typically solidifies under 70 degrees, so it will be a bit more difficult to use during winter months. I hope this inspires you to explore the wonderful world of plant allies all around us this summer. Get out & enjoy it! Here's to your health! - Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist at Bluegrass Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine in Lexington, Kentucky.
About the Author:
Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist, currently practicing in the gorgeous, horse capital of the world: Lexington, Kentucky.