White-tailed Spider

White-tailed Spider

In this part of New Zealand the creature most feared by many is the white-tail spider. Originally from Australia, this arachnid is here to stay. One bite from this little hunter can cause flesh to waste away. The results of a white-tail spider bite are not pretty. A few years ago, in the early morning dark in my bedroom, I bent to pick up a piece of fluff from the carpet. The fluff moved. I turned on the light and saw it was in fact a white tail. I felt no pain so assumed I’d been lucky and not been bitten.

Buckhorn plantain (Plantago lanceolata) is often called narrow-leaf plantain

Buckhorn plantain (Plantago lanceolata) is often called narrow-leaf plantain

But a few hours later, while working in the garden, the middle finger on my right hand turned deep purple and began to throb. It seems I had been bitten after all. I immediately picked a few plantain and comfrey leaves, bandaged them around the inflicted finger and carried on with my work. I repeated the process several times in the course of the day, noting a reduction in throbbing and in the purple colouring each time. By the end of the day the pain was gone and all that was left was a tiny red spot, presumably the location of the bite.

A few years earlier I was bitten by an out-of-control dog and I received stitches in my hand at the local clinic. I was advised by the doctor that I’d need antibiotics to prevent any secondary infections from the dog’s saliva. I bypassed the chemist and immediately began covering the wound with comfrey and plantain leaves. I also bathed in the sea. The wound healed remarkably fast and the stitches were removed just a few days later. There had been no infection and almost no scarring.

Greater or Broad-leafed Plantain

Greater or Broad-leafed Plantain

My first encounter with the wonders of plantain were when I was stung by about seven yellow jackets (small wasps) while mowing the lawn in Canada. I immediately rubbed plantain leaves on each sting and carried on mowing the grass. The pain from the stings disappeared almost immediately but I must have missed one. That one sting itched and aggravated me for several more days, whereas I wouldn’t even have known I’d received the other stings. Over the years I’ve used plantain on bee and wasp stings many times. The relief is almost always virtually instantaneous. It is magic. And comfrey, which some claim is a vegetarian source of vitamin B-12, and plantain find their way into my salads from time to time.

In a world in which we so often reach for an instant remedy, either in the form of a pill purchased over the counter in the pharmacy or prescribed by our physician, it is comforting to know that many of our nutritional and medical needs are freely available from nature.

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.wordpress.com

 

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