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DIY Natural First Aid for Gardeners and Everyone

Everyone is going to have a mishap or two while tending the garden:
insect bites, cuts, rashes, sunburn and bruises.

Use mother nature and some other aids to help you heal!

Bee Stings or Insect Bites Bruises Chiggers
Cuts & Wounds Heat Exhaustion Insect Repellant Mosquitoes
Muscle Strains & Pains Poison Oak or Ivy Rashes
Rough Dry Skin Snakebites Splinters Sunburn


  • Disclaimer: These remedies do not take the place of professional medical attention in serious situations


Bee Stings or Insect Bites:

Carefully scrape the stinger out with your fingernail or a credit card. Pulling on the stinger will only inject more venom. The number one gardeners friend for insect bites is pure Neem oil! Just rub a small amount of Neem on the area as often as needed: it draws out the venom, pain and swelling. Some of us react very badly to wasp and bee bites with extreme swelling and pain that lasts for days. Neem has been a miracle for us. After applying it all symptoms are usually gone within hours or much less! Try our Supreme Neem Oil

Other aids are mixing straight apple cider vinegar with baking soda to make a paste and applying to the bitten area.

Use an ointment containing the herb comfrey as a soothing salve.

Apply tea tree essential oil directly to the insect bite.

A slice of onion has been known to immediately remove pain when applied to insect bites.

Wasp venom is on the alkaline side. To counteract the venom rub some onion juice or vinegar on the bite. Split the leaf of a leek and apply the inside surface to your skin.

Yellow-jackets are attracted to food and garbage containers, and anyone nearby may experience an unpredictable attack by an individual insect. Yellow-jacket nests are located in crevasses or burrows, and someone disturbing a nest is likely to be attacked by groups of 10 insects or more.

Homemade Yellow Jacket Trap:

Cut the top off a 2 liter plastic pop bottle. Make the cut just at the top of the straight sides.
Invert the cut off top into the bottom portion and staple it into place.
Pour a sweet smelling liquid into the funnel top to get about 2 inches of liquid in the bottom of your trap. Carbonated pop seems to work well but try something different in each one to determine what your wasps prefer.

Place your traps in a wide circle 30 to 50 feet away from the area you want to be "wasp free". Try to place some of your traps in their flight path. If you get a few with a fly swatter, put the bodies in the top of the trap. The dead ones give off an alarm scent that will attract others. Empty your traps as needed and refill with your bait. You can dump the carcasses into the compost pile.

Ant bites and bee stings are more acidic in nature. For these you want to neutralize the effect of the venom with a paste of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) and very cold water.

Apply straight lemon juice or rub the affected area with a lemon slice.

A clay or mud paste can also be used to draw out the venom and is usually on hand!

Use a wet tea bag as a poultice: the tannic acid in tea helps with swelling. Black tea is the most effective.

Meat tenderizers contain enzymes when applied as a paste also draw out the venom and swelling.

Put a slice of cucumber over the area, this is especially effective for ant bites!

A poultice using winter or summer savory leaves helps with bites and stings.

To reduce swelling put on a drop of lavender or eucalyptus oil.


Note: Comfrey should not be used by pregnant women.
Comfrey AKA bruisewort and knitbone leaves can be used as poultice for its' remarkable
healing properties on bruises. Use the comfrey leaves between two warm damp cloths as
a cover over the bruised tissue. Recharge with fresh comfrey leaves every hour or so.

You can purchase a comfrey based ointment and smooth directly onto the bruise.

Use a cloth soaked in vinegar and cold water as a compress.

Immediately apply distilled witch hazel to the injured area using sterile cotton. Witch hazel
will stop swelling in a remarkable hurry.

Use fennel or hyssop leaves in a compress to reduce swelling. Another alternative is to use calendula petals. Calendula is commonly known as "pot marigold."


When you have been "chigged" take a shower first then try these:

Rub pure castor oil on your skin. Pure odorless castor oil is available at pharmacies.

Grow the herb pennyroyal (a member of the mint family) and use the leaves by crushing them in your hands then rubbing it on your skin.

Apply a poultice of cooked and cooled oatmeal.

To ease the pain and itching of chigger bites, rub with a moist aspirin tablet.

Cuts & Wounds:

Clean very thoroughly getting all dirt out. Have on hand a salve containing the ingredients:
calendula, comfrey and goldenseal to apply topically for speedy healing.
Rubbing on some vitamin E oil helps healing too!

Apply pure honey directly to the open wound! Honey has been proven to act as a natural
antibiotic and can keep the wound sterile by killing off many infectious bacteria.

A poultice of organically grown mashed garlic applied directly to the wound has the same
properties as using honey. Use a leaf of soft lambs ear to hold it in place. Garlic is widely
known for its' antibiotic properties.

An infusion of lady's mantle applied as a compress will stop bleeding.

Fresh leaves or flowers from the common white flowering yarrow act like a styptic pencil to stop wounds from bleeding. Just crush between your fingers and apply to the cut.

Make a tea from spearmint or peppermint leaves, cool and apply.

Heat Exhaustion:

If you feel dizzy and/or stop sweating you are in trouble. Quit all activity and get out of the
sun fast. Drink cool, not cold water with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in it. The vinegar helps to replace electrolytes and minerals like sports drinks do.

Drinking raspberry or peppermint teas produces a natural cooling effect on your overheated system.

Tea made from sorrel (Rumex acetosa) is said to provide tremendous relief from overheating. Drink 3 cups a day to help. Very high in vitamin C too.

Take a cool bath. A cold bath could cool you down too fast and really tax or stop your heart.

Insect repellant:

Here again pure Neem oil is highly recommended as a topically applied insect repellant. Try our Supreme Neem Oil

  • Neem Insect Repellant and Skin Softener
    6 ounces of almond oil
    2 ounces of aloe vera gel
    3 ounces of Neem oil
    a few drops of ylang-ylang or whatever aromatic oil you prefer
    Blend all these ingredients together, put in a lotion dispenser, apply to exposed skin
    as needed. If you have been sweating a lot you may need to reapply after awhile. 
    Works like a charm!

Splash some mint tea on your skin to repel ants and ticks.

Chamomile tea is another option. Steep 2 tablespoons of chamomile blossoms in 8 ounces of water, let cool, strain and splash on your skin before going out.

Again: Grow the herb pennyroyal (a member of the mint family) and use the leaves by crushing them in your hands then rubbing it on your skin. Pennyroyal is poisonous to cats.

Some essential oils that work well against biting insects (mosquitoes, flies, ticks, fleas) are:

Cinnamon oil (mosquitoes), lemon eucalyptus or regular eucalyptus oil (mosquitoes, ticks, and lice), citronella oil (mosquitoes and biting flies), castor oil (mosquitoes), orange oil (fleas), rose geranium (ticks and lice)

Safe carrier oils and alcohols include:

Olive oil, sunflower oil, witch hazel, vodka.

Homemade Essential Oil Insect Repellent Spray

2 ounces distilled or boiled water
1.5 ounces witch hazel or vodka
30 drops citronella essential oil
25 drops peppermint essential oil
15 drops tea tree essential oil
1 teaspoon of jojoba oil* (optional, if you add this, add only 1 ounce of vodka or witch hazel

Using a 4 oz clean spray bottle fill with water, add the witch hazel or vodka then about 50 to 75 total drops of your various essential oils. Shake well. Spray onto exposed skin and/or clothing, avoiding eyes and mucous membranes. Reapply every 2 hours, or as needed. Store in a dark bottle, away from heat or sunlight.

**For the best results, please make sure you are using therapeutic grade oils. Please do your research if you plan to use this on a pregnant woman, young children. Lavender and tea tree oils are the only essential oils that can be applied directly to the skin, all others should always be diluted. This mixture could also be sprayed on your dog’s collar to help keep pests off of him/her, but please do not use on cats, as many essential oils are toxic to cats.**


Why are they attracted to you?

They’re attracted to carbon dioxide which you produce larger quantities of when you’re hot or when you’re exercising.

They’re attracted to lactic acid which you release more of when you exercise.

They’re attracted to the chemicals in your perspiration.

Repelling and treating bites

The previously listed neem oil lotion works to repel mosquitoes.

Soak bites in salt water or apply a paste of salt mixed into lard or cold cream.

Basil plants will repel mosquitoes.

Crush parsley and mix with apple cider vinegar. Rub the mixture on your skin.

Taking 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar mixed with 6 ounces of water everyday will help to keep mosquitoes from biting you.

Put toothpaste on the bite.

Some other options are taking garlic oil capsules and vitamin B complex supplements daily.

Cut the leaves and stems of catmint and rosemary, then place in a container and cover with a cup of boiling water. Steep for an hour, cool and use the herbal tea as a repellent spray.

Again topical applications of oils of citronella, tea tree oil and eucalyptus may be used.

Basil Mosquito Repellent

Place a handful of fresh basil leaves into a glass measuring cup.
Pour one-half cup of boiling water over the basil. Let the leaves steep for two to four hours.
Squeeze the basil leaves to get out as much of the liquid as possible.
Pour the infused liquid into a spray bottle and add one-half cup of vodka to the squirt bottle.
Shake gently to mix the contents. Apply this all-natural insect repellent by spraying it on all your exposed skin.

Muscle Strains:

Vigorous gardening can often give your body a real workout and it is easy to overdo it,
your enthusiasm resulting in sore muscles. For some relief try these:

Marigold Salve: Take 1 cup of marigold petals and mix it into 1/2 cup of petroleum jelly in a small pot. Cook it on low heat for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Strain the salve with
cheesecloth until it is clear. Store it in a plastic container or glass jar to rub on those
aching muscles when you need some relief. Super skin softener too.

Soak in the tub adding 10 to 15 drops of rosemary oil to the water.

Put a little grated ginger in the bathwater. Don't use more than a teaspoons' worth.
Ginger is excellent for soothing muscle and joint pain. It helps improve blood and
oxygen circulation to the injured area.

The slippery inner layer of bark from a weeping birch tree used as a poultice over the
sore muscles will bring pain relief. Be sure to use length wise strips from the tree trunk, if
you remove a circular strip around the tree trunk you will kill it.

Poison Oak & Ivy:

How to identify poison ivy: 

  • If you are not sure a plant is poison ivy do this:
    Carefully take a piece of white paper, fold it in half and capture a leaf in it. Don't get it on you!
    Crush the leaf in the paper. The plant juice on the paper will turn black within 4-5 minutes if the culprit is poison ivy!

Wet Epsom salts to make a paste and apply. 

Use some Fels Naptha soap to carefully wash the area. Fels Naptha soap can be found at grocery or health stores.

Carefully wash the affected area and apply Swedish Bitters to the skin.

Take a handful of plaintain leaves (the common "weed") and 16 ounces of water. Puree this in a food processor to make a slurry. Use cotton balls to swab it on the affected area.

Make and apply a paste of apple cider vinegar and baking soda.

Another jewel for rashes is jewelweed! Conveniently it often grows right beside poison ivy.

All you do is pick a some jewelweed, slit the stem and rub the juice on your skin.

Rashes & Sunburns:

Put 2 cups of apple cider vinegar in your bathwater and soak for awhile.

A cup of oatmeal in the bath also has very soothing properties for skin rashes.

Pure aloe vera gel topically applied can help heal a rash.

Ointments containing goldenseal are great for rashes.

For psoriasis or eczema: juice pressed from common chickweed will soothe the skin.

Rough, Dry Skin:

Milk bath: place in a square of fine gauze the following: 3 tablespoons of regular powdered milk
and 2-3 ounces of chamomile blossoms. Fold the cloth and contents into a little bag, tie the top
with string and add to the bath. The milk and blossoms help sooth rough skin.

Put blossoms from the linden tree in the bath to soften skin.

Refer back to the neem oil lotion for powerful skin and callus softening.
Supreme Neem Oil is great for moisturizing the skin.


To avoid receiving one (shudder!) rub garlic oil on your legs to repel them.

1. Calm bite victim.
2. Immobilize bite area with pressure bandage and splint.
3. Bring transport to patient where possible.
4. Do not clean the bite as identification of the snake can be made accurately from residue venom at bite site.

Splinters & Thorns:

For thorns use a piece of pantyhose to snag and pull them out. Works great for small thorns like those of cactus.

To get out a deeply embedded splinter apply a slice of fresh onion  or tomato. Another alternative is to apply some honey. Either way the splinter will be drawn to the skin surface. 

Apply ice to the area to numb the nerves and use the old sterile needle and tweezers.


Lavender oil has strong healing properties to it and will help heal sunburns.

  • Lavender & apple cider vinegar for sunburn:
    1/2 teaspoon of iodine
    10 drops of lavender oil
    3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
    6 tablespoons of olive oil
    Mix all the ingredients together very well. Pour into a clean glass bottle, cap it. Rub very gently onto sunburned skin as needed.
  • Smooth on plain yogurt containing live cultures.

Simply spray apple cider vinegar on a sunburn and get fast relief.

Use buttermilk as a sponge bath.

Take cucumbers, cut them up, mash them and apply for cooling relief.

Make a compress using sorrel leaves (Rumen acetosa).


Updated: 06/12/2015



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