Before having kids, I never realized that spiders could bite. Tarantulas and black widows, for sure, but the common spider? It may be because children react more to bites and stings than adults so they are more noticeable. A spider’s bite is generally harder than a mosquito’s and often come in clusters. Whether the poor spider gets blamed for all these kind of bites, may be the case, but the reaction is often the same…intense itching and swelling.
I noticed the bites on my two year old, Eli, about noon, by 5 pm the area under his right eye was beginning to look red and slightly swollen. He had a bite on his cheek as well as on his swelling hands and feet.
By the morning Eli looked liked he had gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. My first reaction may have been to whip out the children’s Benadryl. Benadryl, also known as diphenhydramine, an antihistamine used to relieve symptoms of allergies and the common cold. The medication works by blocking histamine that the body makes during an allergic reaction. Dosage is based on the child’s weight, but they do not recommend giving it to children under two without contacting the child’s pediatrician. As with all pharmaceuticals there are common side effects such as drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness and if your kid is lucky enough to have the gene CYP2D6 they may be bouncing off the walls. So I went a different route and bought some Apis Mellifica, a homeopathic medicine specifically for insect bites. You can pick this up at Mana Foods, Down to Earth, Hawaiian Moons or the Dragon’s Den.
However, when I got home I met a friend who told me about Plantain, not the banana, but a common weed found everywhere on Maui. According to her this weed was great for healing bites. The herb has a long history of use as an alternative medicine. One Native American name for plantain translates to “life medicine” which may not be far from the truth. The chemical analysis of ‘Plantgo Major’ (Latin name) reveals the ingredient glycoside Aucubin – a powerful anti-toxin.
So I found the common weed in my driveway, minced it up and put it over the bite, holding it in place by a band-aid. It was amazing! In less than an hour the swelling had already began to subside and by the next morning Eli was pretty as a picture again. I totally recommend googling Plantain, if you have the time, as the healing properties are endless. A good website is ‘Alternative Nature online Herbal’, and for plantain specifically the web page is http://www.altnature.com/gallery/plantain.htm
Image Credit: mauimama