Tag Archives: allergic reaction

Three Things That Can End Your Summer Fun

poisonoakivyandsumac

It’s Summer Vacation for the kids, which means (hopefully) they will be outside playing, and soaking up the free time and clean air.

But there are three things that also happen to be out enjoying the summer sun, that can quickly ruin any outdoor fun.

Not only that, but it can be everything to a minor annoyance to outright dangerous depending on your own reaction to it.

Check out this article from Dr.Bones over at doomandbloom.net to make sure that you keep yourself and your kids out of these nasty little summertime blues bringers:

In the Northern Hemisphere, warm weather is upon us and school is done for the summer.  As such, we can expect a lot more time in the outdoors for the average family.  Although this is ordinarily a healthy pursuit, there are circumstances where you will find that some things out there that present hazards that are difficult to avoid.

Unless you live in Alaska or Hawaii, a mountaintop, or the middle of the desert, the outdoors will have a population of poison ivy, poison oak, and/or poison sumac.  Once exposed to one or the other, 85% of the population will develop antibodies against it that will generate an itchy rash of varying degrees of severity.  Winter does not eliminate the possibility of a reaction, as you can react against even the dormant vines or shrubs.

The old saying goes: “Leaves of three, let it be”. Although it is true that poison ivy comes in “leaves of three”, so do many other plants. Familiarize yourself with what it looks like.

Poison Ivy

Poison ivy and poison oak are very similar, with the same chemical irritant, known as Urushiol. This irritant is an “allergen”, which is a substance that can cause your body to react against it when exposed. Poison ivy leaves may be pointier, with poison oak often looking more like, well, oak leaves (see images). One or both is present just about everywhere in the continental United States.

Poison Oak

Poison Sumac is a shrub or small tree, growing up to nearly 30 feet in height in parts of the Eastern United States. Each leaf has 7–13 pointy leaflets. Although poison sumac has the same irritant present in poison ivy and poison oak, it is far more powerful.  Simply inhaling smoke from burning poison sumac has been reported to cause death by suffocation.

Poison Sumac

 

All of these plants contain toxic oil that causes a reaction after the first sensitizing exposure. The oil is in just about every part of the plant:  The vines, leaves, and roots. Most people don’t know they have been exposed, even if they know how to identify the plant. Just think how difficult it is to be aware of every single plant you might come into contact with when you hike in the woods.  Also, many people are exposed indirectly; for example, by petting the fur of a pet that has been exposed.

The best prevention is to avoid getting the toxin on your skin.  If you can’t avoid exposure, here is advice before you head out into the woods:

  • Long pants, long-sleeved shirts, work gloves, and boots are imperative if you’re doing work in areas known to have poison plants.
  • Some recommend an over-the-counter lotion called Ivy Block as a preventative. Apply it like you would a sunblock to likely areas of exposure.  Theoretically, it will prevent the oil from being absorbed by your skin.

Unfortunately, many times people don’t identify the exposure before it’s too late. The rash takes from several hours to several days to become apparent.

Usually, you will notice:

  • Itchiness where your skin was exposed to the plant.
  • Red streaky rashes where the plant brushed against you.
  • Small bumps or hives along with the redness.
  • Occasional blistering.

Typical poison ivy rash

 

The rash usually appears in the first day or two after your contact with the Urushiol, although it may take longer in first exposures.  The rash will continue to appear to spread over several days, even if you stay indoors. The rash, however, is not contagious. The more allergen you come in contact with, the more severe your reaction. Severe reactions to smaller amounts of Urushiol may be seen in those who are highly sensitive.  Serious symptoms may include generalized swelling of just about anywhere on the body, including the genitals, and widespread blistering.

Extreme case of reaction to poison ivy

 

The resin or oil from the plant that causes the reaction will remain active even on your clothes, so thorough laundering will be required.  Routine body washing with soap will not be useful after 30 minutes of exposure, as your system will already be producing antibodies.  Hot water seems to help the oil absorb into the skin, so use only cold water early on.  After all the irritant has absorbed, however, hot water baths are actually recommended by some to relieve itching.

Cleansers that remove resin or oil such as Fels-Naptha soap or Tecnu Poison Oak and Ivy Cleanser are more effective than regular detergent and can be used even several hours after exposure. Rubbing alcohol is another reasonable option and easily carried as hand sanitizers or prep pads; it is, however, very drying to the skin.

The good news is that, even if you choose not to treat the rash, it will go away by itself over 2-3 weeks. The bad news is that it could be so itchy as to make you absolutely miserable. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) at 25-50 mg dosages 4 times a day will be helpful in relieving the itching. It’s important to know that the 50mg dosage will make you drowsy. This may be an added benefit at night to help you sleep, but not if you are in any situation that requires alertness. Unfortunately, calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream, old standbys, will probably not be very effective.

Severe rashes have been treated with the prescription Medrol dose pack, (a type of steroid known as Prednisone).  Prednisone is a strong anti-inflammatory drug and will be more effective in preventing the inflammatory reaction that your antibodies will cause. This medicine would be a useful addition to any medical supply list if obtainable.

Some astringent solutions such as Domeboro have been reported to give relief from the itching. The active ingredient is aluminum acetate, which is similar to the aluminum chlorohydrate in many antiperspirants.

There are several alternative treatments for poison ivy, oak and sumac:

  • Cleansing the irritated area with apple cider vinegar
  • Essential oils mixed with Aloe Vera gel, such as tea tree, lemon, lavender, peppermint, geranium, and chamomile.
  • Baking soda paste
  • Epsom salt baths.
  • Jewel weed (mash and apply)
  • Chamomile tea bag compresses

For those who prefer drinking their tea: Passion flower, skullcap, and chamomile are all thought to be soothing.

Click here to read the original article

By  on June 17, 2013

This article can also be viewed here:  www.survivallife.com

Herbal Medicine Kit – Cuts & Scrapes Pt. 3

“Earaches and bellyaches, colic we tend
Hoping our kindness and herbs they will mend”

Welcome back…

…to another posting of the Herbal Medicine Kit. Today we are looking at deeper wounds requiring a Poultice and Wound-healing Tea. We will look more in-depth at Plantain, Astragulus and Baptisia

Let’s get to it…

Deeper Wounds & Infections

Deep Gashing Wound

Infected cuts and scrapes sometimes call for internal as well as external action, especially if an infection is more than skin deep. Indicators are wounds that take longer to heal than seems reasonable and infections that seem to spread, traveling through the bloodstream and reappearing in new areas. When an infection travels from the location of the original wound and takes hold elsewhere, there is usually an accompanying fever. If this happens to you or your loved one, this means you have a spreading systemic infection and you MUST see a doctor immediately!

Skin-Healing Poultice

Click HERE to print

Wound-Healing Tea

Click HERE to print

Plantain

Plantain

A perennial “weed” that can be found almost anywhere in North America and much of Europe. You probably have some in your backyard! Plantain is thought to be indigenous to Eurasia. It will grow in sun to shade, and in almost any soil – plantain is very adaptable. Plantain spreads by seeds.

There are over 200 species in the plantain family, and they are found worldwide. Many have herbal uses. Plantago major is the most common one in North America, but Plantago lanceolata can also be found. Both have the same medicinal uses, and are very similar in appearance. Plantago major has wide rounded leaves, with a flowering spike covered with small nubbly seeds; Plantago lanceolata has longer, slender leaves, and a mostly bare flowering stem, with a conelike cluster of flowers on the top.

(Please note that plantain – the starchy, banana-like fruit, is completely different and not related to the plantain “weed” we are talking about!)

Plantain is edible – harvest the young, tender leaves for use in a salad, or steamed and used as a spinach substitute. The leaves do get tough quickly, so make sure to harvest only the youngest leaves. The immature flower stalks may be eaten raw or cooked. If you’re really adventuresome, you can harvest the seeds. They are said to have a nutty flavor and may be parched and added to a variety of foods or ground into flour. The leaves, seeds and roots can all be made into an herbal tea.

Plantain was brought to the US and also to New Zealand by European settlers who valued it, for it’s culinary and medicinal properties. The settlers seemed to leave the plant wherever they went, thus earning it the name “White Man’s Foot’ or “Englishman’s Foot” by the natives of both countries.

Plantain has been used medicinally by Europeans for centuries. Herbals dating from the 1500′s and 1600′s are full of recipes and uses for plantain. It was considered to be almost a panacea – a cure-all, and a quick search shows that is has historically been recommended as a treatment for just about everything, up to and including dog bites, ulcers, ringworm, jaundice, epilepsy, liver obstructions, and hemorrhoids! Plantain was so commonly known it is even found referenced in works by both Chaucer and Shakespeare.

Plantain is usually plentiful and can be easily harvested anytime from early spring until frost. Please do be careful where you harvest it – roadsides are notoriously dirty and dusty, and ditches are often sprayed with herbicides. Leave a spot in your backyard where you allow it to grow, and you can harvest your own all growing season! If your neighbors think you are crazy, let them know that plantain is a food source for some friendly wildlife such as butterfly caterpillars, and that the seeds are a food source for many varieties of birds.

Plantain is very high in beta carotene (A) and calcium. It also provides ascorbic acid (C), and vitamin K. Among the more notable chemicals found in plantain are allantion, apigenin, aucubin, baicalein, linoleic acid, oleanolic acid, sorbitol, and tannin. Together these constituents are thought to give plantain mild anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antihemorrhagic, and expectorant actions. Acubin has been reported in the Journal Of Toxicology as a powerful anti-toxin. Allantoin has been proved to promote wound healing, speed up cell regeneration, and have skin-softening effects.

Modern medical research is proving to uphold many of the historical uses of plantain – especially as a wound healer, and as a treament for lung conditions such as bronchitis or asthma. Medicinally, plantain is astringent, demulcent, emollient, cooling, vulnerary, expectorant, antimicrobial, antiviral, antitoxin, and diuretic. Plantain is approved by the German Commission E (a sort of German “FDA” that studies and regulates herbs and herbal uses) for internal use to ease coughs and mucous membrane irritation associated with upper respiratory tract infections as well as topical use for skin inflammations. Two Bulgarian clinical trials have suggested that plantain may be effective in the treatment of chronic bronchitis.

How much is usually taken? The German Commission E officially recommends using 1/4-1/2 teaspoon (1-3 grams) of the leaf daily in the form of tea made by steeping the herb in 1 cup (250 ml) of hot water for 10-15 minutes (making three cups (750 ml ) per day). The fresh leaves can be applied directly three or four times per day to minor injuries, dermatitis, and insect stings. Syrups or tinctures, approximately 1/2 teaspoon (2-3 ml) three times per day, can also be used, particularly to treat a cough. Finally, 1/2-1 1/4 teaspoons (2-6 grams) of the fresh plant can be juiced and taken in three evenly divided oral administrations throughout the day. Of course as with all herbal medicines, you are your own best doctor – listen to your body and pay attention to it’s interaction with the herb, and you will undoubtedly figure out your own best uses and dosages.

Plantain is not associated with any common side effects and is thought to be safe for children Plantain is classed as “able to be safely consumed when used appropriately” by the American Herbal Retailers Association. Some preliminary research does show, however, that some allergy sufferers may have a reaction to plantain pollen, so if you feel this may be a problem for you, you may want to only use the plantain leaves for your herbal preparations.

One of plantain’s most common uses is as a poultice for stings, bites, scrapes and rashes. The simplest way to harness plantain’s healing powers is to crush a few fresh leaves, and apply to the affected area. Replace fresh leaves as necessary. The fresh plantain “juice” takes the pain away and seems to work wonders at staunching blood flow and closing wound edges. It’s also wonderfully refreshing and soothing to sunburn.

Plantain infusion (tea) can also be used as a soothing wash for sunburn, windburn, rashes, or wounds. To make a plantain infusion, simply add a small handful of fresh plantain leaves to a cup or two of water, and bring to a gentle boil. Turn off heat, and let steep, then strain out the leaves. The infusion is best when fresh, although it can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days.

*Courtesy of Prairieland Herbs

Astragulas

Astragalus

Astragalus root is commonly used as an herbal remedy in China, Mongolia and other Asian countries. The roots of the astragalus plant are dried and aged for at least three years before they are used to prepare extracts, powdered capsules and medicinal teas. Historically, astragalus was used to promote longevity and speed recovery from illnesses, although it’s now viewed as an immune system booster, antioxidant and mild antimicrobial.

The common name “yellow leader” refers to the yellow interior of the root, and the fact that this is one of the superior tonic roots in traditional Chinese medicine. A typical member of the pea family, astragalus has finely divided leaves, small pealike flowers and seed pods, and a sprawling, vinelike stature. Astragalus membranaceous, the species used medicinally, grows up to 6 feet tall and has an appearance similar to licorice, another member of the large Astragalus genus. Some herbalists believe that the North American milk vetch, A. americus has many of the same properties and may even be a wild, medicinal Astragalus.

Immune Boosting
Astragalus root may boost the immune system in multiple ways, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The evidence suggests that astragalus extract contains compounds, such as polysaccharides, which stimulate specialized immunity cells called natural killer cells, monocytes and lymphocytes. This root may trigger the release of strong antiviral and anticancer substances named interleukin-2 and interferon, although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration stresses that more research is needed before any medical claims can be made. Other compounds in astragalus root called saponins display mild antiseptic properties especially against pathogenic bacteria, helping to prevent the immune system from being overworked.

Antioxidant
Antioxidants are beneficial to health because they eliminate or neutralize free radicals, which are end products of oxidation that harm a variety of tissues, especially the insides of arteries. The saponins, flavonoids and triterpenes in astragalus root extract are strong antioxidants and may help to slow the deterioration of tissues, which is the primary cause of aging and a significant cause of many degenerative diseases such as arthritis, kidney failure and congestive heart failure.

Adaptogen
Astragalus root is also classified as an adaptogen, which means it helps the body resist the harmful effect of stress and fatigue by stimulating the production and secretion of cortisol from the adrenal glands and by balancing other endocrine hormones. It may help to keep you from feeling rundown, although you shouldn’t rely on it solely for this purpose. Adaptogens, which also include ginseng root and licorice root, may also enhance libido and give you an extra boost while working out.

Anti-Aging
Anti-aging potential has been the claim to fame of astragalus for centuries, and there now seems to be some biochemical understanding of how it may contribute to well-being and longevity. Compounds in the roots called astragalosides and cycloastragenols activate telomerase enzymes, which help to prevent the protective ends of chromosomes, called telomeres, from degrading. The degradation of telomeres negatively affects cell division and contributes to tissue aging. Astragalus protects the telomeres from degradation and may also stimulate telomere renewal. Although intriguing, much more human research is needed before astragalus can be touted as a fountain of youth.

Dosage
Some adaptogens are recommended only for short-term use, but astragalus is commonly recommended for many months at a time by practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine. Typical dosages of astragalus root extract range from 200 up to 500 milligrams three times a day, but consult with a health professional familiar with herbal remedies before starting supplementation. The dried root in the form of tea, encapsulated or as an extract. Powder is mildly sweet and may be sprinkled on food or whipped into a shake or smoothie. Most authorities on traditional Chinese medicine recommend taking 9-15 grams (3 to 5 tablespoons) of the whole herb per day as a decoction, made by boiling the ground, dried root in water for a few minutes and then brewing the tea. May also be taken in capsule or extract form.

*Some content courtesy of The Nest & Annie’s

Baptisia

Baptisia Tinctoria

Baptisia tinctoria, also known as horsefly weed, is a plant with light-colored flowers and seed pods. It generally grows in warm regions of North America. The plant’s name is a combination of each of the Latin and Greek words for “dye.” The extract from the flowers and seed pods of baptisia tinctoria were historically used as a garment dye because they would change to a dark blue color when exposed to air. The extract’s most common modern use is as an herbal medicine.

The flowers and seed pods of the plant can both be used for medicinal purposes. For use as a tea, the flowers can be dried out and boiled with water. The seed pods can also be steamed to release their natural oils, then combined with alcohol for a mixture known as a tincture. Tinctures can be diluted in water and drunk. The oil from the seed pods can also be added into capsules or mixed with creams for topical application.

One of the possible uses for baptisia tinctoria is as a laxative, a substance that helps the body produce bowel movements. A person may need to use the medicine as a laxative to help treat constipation, a condition in which solid waste becomes backed up in the digestive system and makes regular bowel movements difficult or painful. Taking the herbal capsules orally may help loosen any backed up waste in the intestines so a person can have regular bowel movements. The herb can also work as an emetic, meaning it promotes vomiting. This use can help treat nausea or rid the body of toxins.
Tea made from baptisia tinctoria may be promoted by herbalists as a treatment for respiratory infections. It may be consumed to help soothe sore throats or chest colds. The tea may also be used as treatment for respiratory inflammation pain due to tonsillitis or laryngitis.

Baptisia tinctoria oil may also be implemented as a possible herbal treatment for various aches. It can be mixed with warm water, then used to soak a cloth known as a poultice. The poultice can be pressed against the outside of the jaw for toothaches or applied to other painful areas of the body, such as sprained ankles. The oil mixture can also simply be used as an antiseptic wash for cleaning cuts and scrapes, as herbalists believe it has antibacterial properties.

Some people may experience side effects if they are allergic to the herb. Signs of an allergic reaction generally include itching, vomiting, or diarrhea after applying or consuming. Pregnant or breastfeeding women are typically not advised to use the herb because it is not known how it affects infants or children.

Recap: Today we looked at several herbs; Plantain, Astratulus and learned a little on the controversial herb Baptisia or Wild Indigo. Since this herb is so controversial I highly suggest before using consult your naturopath, doctor or herbalist. We also made a Skin healing Poultice (with Printable) and a Wound Healing Tea!

Looking ahead: Next week we will take a look at Fainting & Dizziness. We will be talking about the lovely herb Lavender and making Lavender smelling salts and a Lavender Compress.

Reminder: Get your Lavender!!

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Disclaimer
Nothing in this post is to be construed as medical advice, simply a sharing of things that have worked for me & my family. If you have any symptoms of serious illness, taking medication, pregnant or nursing, or have never worked with herbal materials before, please consider consulting a medical professional before use. I am unable to offer advise for your particular medical situation; please ask your doctor, nurse practitioner or naturopath for further guidance.
The statements made here have not been approved by the Food & Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. This notice is required by the Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act.

 This article can be viewed here:  www.modernhomesteaders.net