Years ago in my home state of Missouri, I would sit miserably with insect bites all around my ankles and waist through most of the summer months. Mites, chiggers, spiders, mosquitoes. They would all get me. Not only that but I had an allergy to whatever was in their saliva because the bite would swell and be incredibly painful. One bite could have a swollen purple mound around it the size of a half dollar. But now that I live relatively ‘bite free’ in the Pacific Northwest, the only discomfort that finds me is a summer visit to the family farm.
My last trip was about three years ago and I came home peppered with bites. I wrapped my ankles to keep my pant legs from rubbing against them and driving me insane. On top of this, it would always last a week or more after I got home. This year was our first summer trip to Missouri that my wife and I had our own medicines and salves. I was nervous and excited to try some of our new products.
First thing I did was on the ‘prevention’ side. As most people apply a chemical spray you wouldn’t dare ingest (though 60% of what you put on your skin gets absorbed into your blood stream) or light some smelly candle that does who knows what inside your lungs, I went with essential oils. We didn’t get the Lemon Grass in time to add to what we already had but it was still useful. We had strong scented essential oils that the bugs supposedly couldn’t tolerate like Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Lavender and Rosemary essential oils. I would dab a little around the ‘hot spots’ which tend to be the ankles, knees, and the waist and groin areas. I would apply it once, only in the evenings when the temps were cool enough for the bugs to come out in force. This trip I had five bites total with only two causing me any real irritation. A radical change from the typical vacation to Missouri in summer but now I went on to the second phase; ‘treatment’.
The salve I brought was one we made with Chickweed infused in olive oil, mixed with Lavender infused in olive oil, strained and poured into a heated pan of beeswax with Peppermint and Lavender essential oils. If you can make sun tea and boil water, you can make salves for everyday medicinal use. What I didn’t fully realize until talking to my wife Michelle about this article was that she added the Lavender for purely scented reasons. Lavender actually has some amazing qualities besides its calming aroma and I feel it gave an added bonus to the Chickweed.
Lavender has numerous compounds that act as antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiseptic. Michelle had already made a Lavender hand spritzer for travel use in case you find you can’t wash your hands somewhere. Chickweed has compounds great for rashes, eczema, nettle stings, diaper rash and any other skin irritations. Combine the soothing effects of Chickweed with the disinfecting effects of the Lavender and I had bites that didn’t stand a chance. The bite site did fill with pus on two of them but they went down after a couple days and never did I get much of the swollen purple mound. My approach this visit was to disinfect and clean the sites regularly throughout the day. I even washed them real good in the shower compared to the usual just soap around it because they were so painful.
The chickweed we grew in our yard and the lavender we have growing as well but the particular stuff we used came from plants on a walking trail we found in Portland, Oregon. None of the ingredients were toxic. None of them had horrible odors. All of them worked better than anything else I had bought and used in the past. I am sold on the fact that there can be better alternatives out there than industrialized products advertised in expensive commercials.
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