We love summer, but summer means bugs. Now, most of them I can deal with, but then there are the biting varieties. Gnats, mosquitoes, no-see-ums, and their ilk.
While prevention is the best option, sometimes we forget to apply our homemade bug spray, or we’re just out and about without it. I’m kind of a mosquito ninja, so I can usually fight them off pretty well, but occasionally one sneaks through my defenses.
When this happens, I always look for plantain. Plantain is one of those “weeds” that is actually super useful, and can be found all over. It’s great for things like small cuts and scrapes, but also one of the best natural remedies for bug bites and stings.
If one of us does get a bite or sting and I can find some plantain, I usually just chew up a leaf and slap it on the skin. But the kids aren’t always totally excited about this method (although they have been coming around to it lately, and sometimes even do it themselves, so, progress…).
So if the idea of chewing on leaves and putting the resulting slimy mess on your arm or leg makes you a little squeamish, there’s a less-messy alternative that’ll still let you capture the itch-fighting power of plantain: the simple tincture. Tinctures are a great way to extract beneficial compounds from plants, and I create them frequently for a wide variety of uses.
Plantain Tincture for Homemade Bug Bite Relief
A tincture is very simple to put together. All you really need is the plant material and a high-proof alcohol (I typically use a plain vodka so there aren’t any other flavors in the final product).
Harvest the leaves (plantain is great, but you can also use jewelweed or chickweed if you can’t find plantain – or a combination of all three!) – unless you’re making a huge batch, you probably won’t need more than a couple.
Make sure the leaves are dry and clean, and chop them into small pieces. Put the pieces in a small jar, and cover with the alcohol. Rough rule of thumb is about 1/3 plant, 2/3 alcohol, but I generally just make sure everything is completely covered, with a little extra on top.
Keep it handy when you’re out and about, and the next time you get bit, put a few drops on the bite and let your new homemade bug bite relief spray work its magic!