Herbal Insect Bite Relief

Let's revisit two of my all time favorite, easy to grow, easy to use backyard herbs. Comfrey & PlantainI'm not a certified herbalist, I'm just a girl with a garden. So trust me, if I can grow and use these two herbs so can you.

my backyard comfrey

This is a simple recipe using comfrey and plantain to make a poultice or paste to relieve itchy insect bites


Bug Bite Paste


  • 1 tsp Powdered Herb & Clay Mix (see below)
  • 1 tsp raw apple cider vinegar (regular would probably work fine also, this happens to be what I have)
  • 5 drops tea tree oil

Preparation & Usage

  • Mix three ingredients together. I find a chopstick works well. You may notice a slight fizzing which I assume is the vinegar reacting with the clay.
  • Apply to affected skin. As the paste dries it will start to flake off the skin. It looks like dried mud but cleans up easy. 
  • You should notice relief fairly soon after application. We've never had to re-apply, either the bites weren't that bad or the kids didn't notice it any more. You should be able to re-apply as often as necessary but watch for irritation or rash in case of sensitive skin.
  • The quantities I've given make enough paste to thoroughly cover a large area of bites. We always have more than we need for a single application. 

green paste on foot


I'm not exactly sure which component of this recipe is most effective at relieving the itch. Is it the herbs? Maybe the clay? The apple cider vinegar? Or the tea tree oil? You may have success with just one of these ingredients or various combinations of them.

Experiment mixing your own proportions according to what you have available. None of these ingredients are harmful to skin though I wouldn't recommend applying this paste to an open sore. 

During the summer it's great to use fresh herbs on your skin, especially chewed up plantain which has relieved our family of bee sting and mosquito bite itches. However, I find this dried herb and clay mix to yield a better consistency for applying to the skin. Also, this mix will store well for years in a dark cupboard and be handy whenever you need it.

Powdered Herb & Clay Mix

  1. Harvest a handful or two of comfrey and plantain leaves, roughly equal amounts of each.
  2. Wash well and hang from ceiling to dry (can't be too humid), use oven at low temperature or dehydrator. 
  3. When herbs are completely dry, pulverize the herbs in the blender till they are a fine green powder. 
  4. To 1 part of dried herbs add 1/2 part bentonite clay. Better to add less to begin with and use more later if needed for individual applications. 
  5. Label jar and store in cupboard.

If you are new to herbs and want to learn more I recommend Making Herbs Simple DVD set. These videos teach simple recipes with easy to understand instructions - how to find and identify herbs in the wild, drying and storing herbs, and how to prepare tinctures and poultices.

What natural remedies do you use to relieve insect bites?

Looking to buy dried herbs to prepare your own herbal remedies?

I recommend either Mountain Rose Herbs or the Bulk Herb Store. I am an affiliate for both.

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  • Francesca

    Francesca on July 26, 2010, 8:39 p.m.

    I've read about comfrey somewhere before, but I'm not sure what plant it is. I just googled it, and it's apparently native of Europe, but I've never come across it, and even its botanical name - symphytum - is totally new to me. A mystery plant, and it would be so useful!


  • debbie

    debbie on July 28, 2010, 12:49 p.m.

    all right - i've been looking for something like this, and now i've got the powders all mixed up (plants picked, washed, dried, pounded, clay mixed in) and i'm just waiting, perversely, for someone to start itching...thanks so much for this! our giant comfrey plant has been waiting for me to stumble across the right concoction to suit its purpose...


    • renee

      renee on July 29, 2010, 1:15 a.m.

      Debbie, I hope it works for you. Just tonight we used it on my daughter's bites and she said it didn't help! Of course after I blogged that it did.

      It's worked for me and other children. So let's hope it works for yours!


      • renee

        renee on July 29, 2010, 1:34 a.m.

        This just in... we washed it off, added more water, spread it over a larger area and no more itch, no more sting. Let's hope it stays that way.


  • renee

    renee on July 29, 2010, 2:39 a.m.

    I've just dried more plantain from my yard after reading this article at the Bulk Herb Store. 

    More to read at The Bulk Herb Store:

    Simple Green Salve

    Plantain to the Rescue


  • Lisa

    Lisa on July 29, 2010, 4:18 a.m.

    I would be interested in the herbal DVD. I have had my eye on it sometime now. Is it still available? How do I proceed? Lisa


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