A Spot of Herbal First Aid in the Field

The trouble with this time of year is that there is so much lush herbage out there when I get out for a walk!

While I was trotting down a narrow, overgrown path talking to my botanising friend and admiring the Scrophularia nodosa (figwort) leaves to my left I paid no attention to the lush crop of Urtica dioica (stinging nettles) to my right. This led to a sharp howl as I thrashed my knuckles into them. At that point I wasn’t thinking favourably about how the Romans lashed themselves with nettles for arthritis, but about how absolutely awful getting stung by nettles is. I personally don’t find a dock leaf any help at all in this situation, so I was rushing out of the woodland towards the Plantago lanceolata (plantains) that I had seen on my way down the hill. Plantago major or lanceolata will do the same job, and are excellent removers of the pain and swelling of nettle rash.

I took four leaves, gave them a quick chew to turn them into an instant poultice and placed it over my knuckles, held in place with two more plantain leaves pinned between my fingers, simplicity itself! The lanceolate leaves of Plantain lanceolata do lend themselves more readily to being made into bandages. Later in the year the leaves of P. major will be longer and fatter so they can be used too.

What did that taste like I hear you ask? Well, refreshing, lightly bitter and drying, quite pleasant is my answer; my husband would say, ‘ah yes, but you are a herbalist.’ It tasted much better than the pain of nettle rash for sure.

The pain stopped within a few seconds, I had to take my poultice off after about 20 minutes so that I could drive. I had that well known stabbing and stinging nettle feeling in one finger about 2 hours later, just for a few seconds and that was the end of it; without the plantain’s services I would have been bothered for 2 or 3 days. Plantago lanceolata and Plantago Major are amongst my favourite plants so useful as field first aid for bruises, bites and rashes. I prescribe the tinctures widely in formulae for mucous membrane conditions – for the lungs and gut.

To book an appointment with Lizzie Foulon please contact the clinic on 01865 558561

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