Amanda enjoys using wild harvested and homegrown herbs to make tinctures, salves, and other home remedies.
Making Our Own Medicine
When my daughter experienced a reaction to internal sutures following minor surgery, I decided to make my own wash and salve. I go into detail about this story below the recipe in this article. We found many non-natural solutions wouldn't heal her, so we turned to our own backyard.
I had comfrey and witch hazel growing in the garden, clover, and plantain in the field, and some dried calendula flowers in my cupboard. We gathered our ingredients and got to work.
These salves help heal wounds and bruises at our house, but if you have a skin injury you're concerned about be sure to visit your doctor or dermatologist.
How to Make Herbal Wound Wash
- Chop the herbs into small pieces. We used comfrey leaves, witch hazel leaves, plantain leaves, clover, and calendula flowers. If you are wild harvesting your herbs, please be sure you can identify them properly before using them in a wound wash. You may use fresh or dried herbs.
- Place them in a pot of pure water. You should have approximately one part herbs to four parts water. In other words, if you have one cup of herbs, use 3-4 cups of water.
- Bring to a boil, then simmer for up to 10 minutes. We needed to simmer the herbs this long to break down some of the stronger leaves, such as witch hazel. If you are using more delicate leaves and flowers, you only need to simmer for three minutes or less.
- Turn off the heat and let steep until cool.
- Strain out the herbs and place the liquid in a clean jar in the fridge. It will keep for 2-3 days.
- You can freeze left over wash in ice cube trays for future use. When you have a wound, just grab an ice cube, wrap it in a paper towel and place it on the wound. As the cube melts, the liquid will come through the paper towel and wash the wound.
How to Make Herbal Salve for Wounds
- Chop comfrey leaves, plantain leaves, and calendula flowers. You may use fresh or dried herbs. If you are wild harvesting, be sure you can identify these herbs.
- Place chopped herbs into mason jars. Do not put a lid on the jars.
- Melt cocoa butter wafers in a small pan over low heat or use a double boiler.
- Add avocado oil to soften your salve. The more oil you add, the softer your salve will be. Start with about a 1:10 ratio of oil to cocoa butter. If you want softer salve, you can add more oil to your next batch. (Other oils may be substituted, just be sure they are safe for the skin.)
- Pour the hot oil mixture over the chopped herbs. Be sure the herbs are completely covered in oil.
- "Seal” the jars by placing a piece of paper towel over them and secure with a rubber band or metal jar band. The paper towels allow moisture to escape so that you do not have water in your oil.
- Place them in the crockpot. It is important to put a dishtowel in the bottom of the crockpot before you put the jars in.
- Fill the crockpot with water about half as high as the jars and “cook” them on the lowest setting (warm) overnight. Do not place a lid on the crockpot.
- Strain out the herbs and pour herb-infused oil into clean containers.
- Allow cooling completely. You may place them in the fridge to help set the salve.
A Wound That Wouldn't Heal: Our Story
My 10-year-old daughter had a minor surgery that required both internal and external sutures. The wound appeared to heal nicely and the external sutures were removed without a hitch. The internal sutures would dissolve on their own. A week or so later, the healing scar started to look funny. I continued to treat it as I had been, keeping it clean and applying a salve. Oddly, two little scabs appeared at the top and bottom of the scar, where the internal sutures were. They eventually broke open and oozed white pus. Back to the dermatologist we went.
Our Experience With the Dermatologist
I don’t want to reveal too much about what ensued at the dermatologist. Let’s just say that what I was told wasn’t making much sense. It was “not an infection”. It would continue to ooze. It was not related to the issue that required surgery in the first place. And it was not related to the internal sutures, which she now removed. The dermatologist recommended cutting a much larger area out. But since my daughter was by this time completely hysterical, she would need to have this done in a hospital where she could be put under anesthesia. Well, that wasn’t happening! I told her I would treat this on my own, thank you very much.
Researching Her Reaction to Internal Sutures
My first step was to figure out exactly what we were dealing with. I started my research online looking for information on wounds that wouldn't heal. Good old Google turned up several results. A lot of people had experienced the same symptoms, as a reaction . . . to their internal sutures. I called the dermatologist and confirmed that they used the same brand of suture that these people were complaining about. They also assured me of the safety of said sutures. The discussions I read online suggested that it may be a microbial agent used on the sutures or the material that the sutures are made of that causes the reaction. So, this is not an infection, it is more like an allergic reaction whereby the body is trying to rid itself of all the offending material (and any skin cells that came in contact with it apparently). No one had found a way to cure the cycle of healing and reopening of the wound, a process that went on for months. But I was determined to try. I consulted my library of herbal remedies, and thus the above recipe was born.
Unfortunately in my daughter’s case, the only thing that would heal her wound was time. It took months for her body to rid itself of the offending material and finally heal. However, our herbal wound wash and salve were useful for many other wounds and conditions from bruises to dry skin.
Other Remedies We Tried
We tried activated charcoal compresses, papaya leaf, thyme, etc. We tried things to draw out the offending material. We tried things to calm the reaction. Many of these things probably helped, but nothing cured the issue entirely or quickly. I like to see results, so this was frustrating. In many cases, when we have done all we can, time is the only thing that will make it better.
The Importance of Participating in Your Own Healing
My daughter participated in the whole process from start to finish. I truly believe that mentally and emotionally, making your own medicine helps with healing. It prepares the mind and body to accept the healing benefits the medicine has to offer. My daughter has a general fear of conventional medicines because she reacts strongly to them. In this case, she simply picked clover and plantain in the field and placed it in oil. She knew that these things were not harmful to her, so she accepted this natural medicine without fear. If you are an herbalist and you can get your patient to participate in the making of their medicine, or simply to watch you make it, I think it will help them heal. Let me know if you try this and see results!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2019 Amanda Buck