The outdoor season is finally here and if you've got free-roaming kids that constantly present with grazed knees and elbows, burns, stings and bumps or perhaps you are a keen gardener or DIY'er then you will with guarantee benefit from the healing powers of comfrey and plantain. The beauty of these two herbs is that they are abundant and grow wild in many climates and conditions. You really don't have to look far this time of year to find plantain as it is as abundant as dandelions and you'll most likely find it in the lawn just outside your door or in grassy fields, in city parks, in hedgerows and on verges, between pavers, in a crack in the concrete or as a 'weed' in your veggie garden and flower beds.
Comfrey is a bit more selective with regard to growing areas and you might have to look a bit harder to find it in the wild but once it has found an area it likes it grows profusely. Comfrey likes shady or partly shady damp areas in grassy ditches and near riverbanks. And if all attempts fail or you simply prefer to buy certified organic herbs then both herbs can easily be purchased online - usually as dried plant material. Comfrey was once commonly known as knitbone (symphytum officinale) because of its amazing ability to heal broken bones and 'knit' them back together. The botanical name Symphytum means 'to unite'. Thus comfrey is excellent to use topically on sprains, pulled muscles, swellings, bruises, minor cuts and scratches and a 'must' in any first aid kit. Common Plantain (Plantago major) or narrow leaf plantain (Plantago lanceolata) are closely related, grow in the same places and share their medicinal and therapeutic properties. Plantain is the herb to use for soothing stings and mosquito bites and it is (nearly) always close at hand. It is also amazingly quick at stopping blod flow from minor cuts, grazes and shaving cuts and encourages repair of damaged tissue.
Together these two herbs make a potent pair, invaluable in the first aid kit and it is so easy to make your own healing and effective first aid balm using these two inconspicuous yet powerful herbs. If you are like me and like to forage your own herbs then hang them to dry in a dark ventilated place for 24 hours before use... or even longer if you have got the time and patience. This allows for most of the moisture to evaporate from the plants before infusing them.
So here's what you do: Comfrey & Plantain First Aid Healing Balm: 1 cup dry plantain leaves 1 cup dry comfrey leaves 250ml organic Olive Oil 75g sheasmør * (optional) 20g beeswax (use candelilla or carnauba wax to make it vegan) 40 drops essential oil (optional - Lavender, Rosemary,Tea tree, Grapefruit, Orange, Lemon are all good choices) 1 capsule of vitamin E (only the oil) or 8 drops of Rosemary extract (helps to prolong shelf life by retarding oxidation of the balm) * if not using shea butter then increase beeswax/plant wax to 25g or 30g if you like a firmer balm. How to make: Firstly, make an infusion with the dried leaves and olive oil. You can do this in a couple of ways - the long way and the short way. I used option 1 (the short way).
option 1 (the short way) Infuse herbs using a double boiler. Roughly chop leaves, put in glas bowl and cover with oil, making sure that all plant material is covered. Place the glass bowl inside a saucepan filled with water (double boiler) and gently heat and let simmer for 5 hours. The water doesn't need to boil and bubble aggressively, better to let it simmer gently. You don't want the oil to be too hot to touch. As the herbs infuse the oil will become deep green. option 2 (the long way) Mix leaves and oil in a sealable glass jar, making sure that all plant material is covered, leave it to infuse for 6 weeks in a cool dark place.
Once you have you infused oil ready you need to separate it from the plant material. Do this by straining the oil through a cheese cloth over a glass bowl or jug. Make sure to squeeze the cloth well to get all the oil out. If necessary, strain the oil a second time if little bits of plant material slipped through the first strain. Discard the plant material when finished. And now you're ready to make the balm! 1: Melt the beeswax/plant wax in double boiler 2: Gently warm the infused oil in double boiler until it is warm to touch (approx. 40 ℃) 3: Add shea butter (if using) 4: Add bees wax (or plant wax) 5: Stir well and add essential oils if using 6: Let the mixture cool in the fridge for about 20 mins, then pour into jars. I filled 5 x 50ml aluminium jars but glass jars work just as well. 7: Date and label and leave to set.
And Voila! You've made your own super healing and effective chemical free first aid balm. Come grazed knees, cuts, stings and bruises - you can deal with it! With much love 🌿 Sol