When I was installing the hive beetle traps the other day, I got stung by one of my bees. She got me on the stomach, through my ventilated beesuit, as I was lifting the heaviest of my hives and using my gut to balance the weight.
As soon as I came in I slapped a raw onion – finely diced – onto the sting. The itchy burning sensation went away almost immediately and I thought I’d found the cure for bee stings. But after a couple of hours, the onion smell got to be too much, so I took it off. The itching quickly became unbearable again and I applied store bought aloe gel with Lidocain.
This morning, the sting site was intensely itchy and an area the size of my hand was red, hot and swollen. More aloe/lidocain while I worked today, but when the day’s chores were done, I gathered about a cup of broad leaf plantain leaves and a thick sprig of aloe vera off my plant. I washed the leaves, removed the spines from the aloe and pulsed both the plantain and the aloe in the food processor. Now some of that paste is pressed into a gauze pad and taped to my gut. No more itching.
I slept in the poultice and the next day, the itching was mostly gone, as was the swelling and redness. I worked without the poultice during the morning, and then when the itching returned, applied that aloe/lidocain goo. In the evening, the plantain/aloe poultice again.
The next day, all swelling and itchiness was gone. Not exactly a quick cure. Nor an easy cure. Poultices are a little messy, even when covered in plastic wrap. But it definitely healed quicker than other bee stings.
Next time I’m trying is raw potato.
Oddly enough, when I mentioned this to my mother, she told me a story from her childhood that I had never heard before and I shall share it hear because it’s more anecdotal evidence for the usefulness of the raw potato poultice.
When my mother was a small child she liked to hear the sound of water on a fire. So, on a cold day in January, she picked up what she thought was a bucket of water and tossed it the fire in the pot bellied stove. But it was bucket of kerosene and as soon as it hit the flame it came roaring right back at her, covering her face and head in flames.
Her grandfather happened to walk in just at that moment and he used his great coat to smother the flames. The coat that saved her life. But not her eyebrows. Then the boarder who lived at the back of the house was there and for the next two or three days, he had my mother covered in raw potato poultices. Her eyebrows eventually grew back and today you’d never know she once nearly burned her face off. No scarring at all.
The funny thing is, when I was a child and got burned, she was always putting Crest toothpaste on my wounds, not potatoes. Toothpaste isn’t very effective on burns and considering the potato miracle of her childhood, you’d think she’d have been all about potato poultices. In her defense, she was mothering in the age of Dr. Spock and Better Living Through Chemistry. We had Mercurochrome. And toothpaste.