Thursday, May 20, 2010

Charcoal and stings/bites

So wouldn't you know but I just finished a post on charcoal and it's general benefits, and I go out on a walk and get stung by an ant. So now, I'm immobile with my foot in a pan of charcoal water.

For those back in Canada, this situation may sound pretty funny. So what, I got bit by an ant. That usually doesn't cause too much concern. In Australia all the animals got a make-over and nothing is quite the same as anywhere else in the world.

This ant, for example, we believe it to be what the children all call a "jumper ant." I was warned about these when we first arrived here. Apparently, in true Aussie style, the "Jack jumper ant" is it's real name. Here's some tid-bits from Wikipedia.

The Jack jumper ant is a 1 - 1.2 cm long ant, relative to the "bull ant" (also been warned of these) and is native to Australia, especially Tasmania. They are territorial and are carnivorous (they apparently like my foot). Their sting is compared to wasps, bees and fire ants (although I've never had the pleasure, save for a tiny wasp). Apparently their sting is supposed to be quite powerful as they will even hunt wasps, although I'm not all that impressed - maybe because of the charcoal.

Their sting causes swelling (which was noted when I got home from my "walk" - the second part was a hobble - and took my sock off) and reddening. Wikipedia says that fever and a formation of a blister will occur, with increasing heart rate and dropped blood pressure. I'm not sure how general this information is, but I do know that after having my foot soaked in this charcoal bath for half an hour the swelling is already quite down - still stings a bit if I think about it though. No other side effects though. About 3% of the time, the bites cause allergic reactions in people resulting in death (like bee sting allergies). Therefore, there are more deaths due to "jumper ants" in Tasmania than spiders, snakes, wasps and sharks combined. This may sound impressive, but remember there aren't all that many people here, and there also is only one poisonous snake, and not that many shark incidences as the main land. Another site mentions that this is 1 death every four years, although severe illness occurs for many others.

So after I got stung, my husband and I returned home right away, it did hurt. Somehow the ant got in my shoe and bit me right under my strap, he was still sitting there when I took my shoe off to remove the "thorn" I thought wedged it's way in. It did get increasingly more painful on the hobble home. Immediately upon returning home my husband prepared a charcoal bath for my foot to soak in. Remember from my previous post that charcoal absorbs things. I don't measure anything, we just dumped a bunch of charcoal in enough water to cover my foot. And here I am. If I wanted to get up and around then I could make (or have someone else make) a charcoal poultice to put on the bite.

To make a poultice for a wound, bite, over your liver or kidney or other organ etc, mix 2 tablespoons each of ground flax seed or slippery elm bark (available at health food stores) (to hold water and keep the charcoal moist - charcoal must be wet to work) and charcoal (powder) in a small pot. Add 5-6 tablespoons water and bring to a boil and stir until toothpaste consistency. Spread evening on a clean cloth (even use a band-aid or paper towel if you have nothing else). The cloth should be appropriate for your application. You may not need to use all the recipe or you may need to double it, etc. Spread another piece of cloth over that, and cover with plastic wrap to keep poultice moist and your clothes clean. Leave on for a couple hours or overnight, depending on the desired use.

There are variations of the poultice recipe and whatever works for you is fine. Just remember, the charcoal needs to stay wet to be active. The charcoal absorbs odors and toxins, so if your placing the poultice on your liver, and the poultice starts to stink - this is a sign that you need a new poultice. Keep using the poultice until the foul odors are gone, or the swelling is gone, whatever fits your usage. And again, take some time to do your own research into charcoal and it's usages. I'm sure you'll be impressed.

Update: my foot is done soaking now, I've had it out of the water for a while. There is faint redness and you can see a small hole where the ant got a chunk of my skin. It's very hard to tell if the skin is raised and I can't feel any bump with my finger - I don't want to irritate it though just in case. But if it does start getting worse I know what to do!

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