Herbal First Aid – for Yellow Jacket Stings

Better to be prepared – for life is full of surprises.

Last Saturday was no exception – our fabulous family hiking trip became quite the adventure, when we decided to try out a new loop off part of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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The trail was easy enough for the first 5 miles. There were several little stream crossings, LOTS of mud … fields of stinging nettle, tall grass and thorns. These were minor setbacks – we noted that shorts were not the best idea for future such expeditions. 😉

Incident #1

Shortly before lunch I collided with yellow jacket #1, flying solo. Grateful that I had thought to bring a few essential oils and my Healing Salve along – these were quickly applied and we continued down the trail.

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Over halfway through the hike we decided to bushwhack off the trail to the river below, and swim for a while. The trek down was slightly difficult, due to the slippery slope. The dirt was soft, there were a few “mudslide” areas … but we worked together to get everyone down.

The river was fabulous! So refreshing. We set aside our boots and packs and set to work building a dam. Great fun! Sam found a heart shaped rock. Several made their initials on the dam out of pebbles. We enjoyed the peaceful quiet of this wilderness setting – tucked away off the trail in a very secluded area.

The second half of the hike proved a little more difficult. The climb was steeper and a few were tired and sore. At times we split off into 2 groups.

Incident #2

Such was the case with yellow jacket encounter #2. This time it was an entire buzzing nest of them – the first 2 got past before we even noticed them, but the 3rd guy in line got attacked by a swarm of them. The rest of us following close behind quickly retreated back down the trail, looking for whatever “it” was that before-mentioned guy was screaming about and running from. I thought he had found a snake – but then I noticed the cloud of buzzing “things” beside the trail. The only way to get around them now was to bushwhack down off the trail, over some very large dead trees, and back up to the trail. The other sister ran back to find Dad and littlest brother, who had the first aid kit. The other small brother stayed behind and watched to tell me when I could resurface on the trail further up.

It’s a sick feeling, seeing someone in so much pain.

A boy trying so hard to be brave, and yet suffering so much in that moment. This was his first hiking trip with our family, and one of the more difficult hikes that he had encountered. Not a pleasant thing to go through.

Again I dug around for oils and salves. I only had 3 things with me – 3 products that I had grabbed the evening before, doubting that I would need them. It ALWAYS pays to be prepared. For you NEVER know what you might encounter.

Out came the Healing Salve, Frankincense Oil, and Clove Bud Oil.

The poor guy was feeling miserable. My one sting felt like fire after it happened – the pain shoots through in surges, coming and going. These were all over his legs. I dumped, poured, and slathered with my hands. Again and again. All over his legs. The other friend had one too – from trying to kill all the offending bees. More oils and salves. It’s not a cool feeling, having to use those things – having to deal with a situation like that. Knowing that there are more miles to hike despite the pain.

We hiked that last “neck of the woods” out to our van. I slathered those things all over his legs again. Thank God, there was almost NO swelling. They looked amazing. Very minimal faint bumps, like small mosquito bites. I could tell where the stings were, but they had not swelled like mine did {note to self, apply more and apply more often next time}. He said those oils helped with the pain. They were soothing. The next day I asked him again at church – he said they were fine, just a little itchy.

My story played out differently.

Everyone is different. My sting went crazy on the 2nd day. I guess I thought it was “taken care of” and so I checked it off my list … but then the increased swelling, dark blotchy red “rash” and itching. I’ve since been applying bentonite clay, activated charcoal, other various infused oils, salts, and essential oils. Slowly but surely it is working its way back down. There are no “tried and true methods” or “one fix for all” with healing.

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{Day 2, before it turned dark red. The salt soak made everything that was “spread out” consolidate into a tighter, smaller patch that is now healing nicely}.

Looking back?

Had I anticipated that yellow jackets would be the theme of this past week’s hiking trip, I would have chosen my “first aid kit” differently. I would have brought Itch B Gone Salve – with Jewelweed, or Bug Bite Salve – with Plantain. I would have added Peppermint Oil to my collection  {we joked about how “spicy” his legs were from the straight Clove I rubbed all over} and perhaps applied it in place of the Clove Bud for pain relief and swelling prevention. I might have set to work on my Black Drawing Salve {coming soon – still in the planning stages}.

And yet I was grateful that I had these 3 things with me. Because when it comes down the gentle, powerful plant – based products, it’s amazing what will work if you have it on hand. It’s incredible what will make a different for someone who is suffering – how it will prevent swelling, soothe pain, and work wonders for one person {even if it is not quite enough for someone else}.

Always better to be prepared than not. For you never know what you might encounter. 😉

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P.S. We had a fabulous trip despite these setbacks. I think everyone agreed that the pros outweigh the cons. It was a fun, happy day with family and friends. We finished off our 10 mile hike with pizza and ice cream on the way home. So blessed by sweet fellowship, team work, God’s beautiful creation, the peace and quiet of the mountainous areas we hiked through … and all the fun memories we made together despite the challenges we encountered along the way. ❤

P.P.S. A few pictures from our OTHER hike, 2 Saturdays ago. 😀

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{My favorite … not the best quality because these were all taken with the iPhone}. 😉

Stay tuned for another post – coming soon! Some of my favorite “first aid” essentials to keep on hand.

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