Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Herbal Burn Treatments

We had a great herbal first aid class on Sunday. But after everyone left, I realized that though I touched on some herbs that are great for treating burns, I hadn't really gone over my herbal burn treatment. This always seems to happen. There is so much I want to share in my classes, it is hard to fit it all in before we run out of time. Usually I will just let it go, but I really wanted to cover burns, because they can be so painful and herbs can be so great for easing that pain and helping them to heal up nicely.

Minor burns, first and second degree, can be easily treated at home if you are prepared. The first thing to do is cool the burn. This can be done by plunging the burned area into cool or cold water for a few minutes. If you have a bottle of aloe vera juice in your refrigerator, that's even better. Just pour the juice into a bowl and cool the burned area in the juice.

Once the burn is cool, I like to cover it completely with a good burn salve. This will keep the air away from the burn, keep it moist and get those burn healing and soothing herbs right in there to start their work. Put the salve on thick. 

Before I bandage a burned area I cover the area with a wilted plantain leaf. You can do this by picking a large plantain leaf (if you can find some that don't get mown down, they get quite large), putting it in a bowl and pouring boiling water over it. Allow it to soak for a couple minutes. They remove it and allow it to cool completely. When it is cool, wrap the leaf over the wound and then bandage it on. The plantain leaf will keep the bandage from sticking to the wound (which can be painful when pealed off and also undo some of the healing as it rips of newly forming skin), and helps in soothing the wound as well.

(I have recently learned, just last night on an herb walk with Rosanna King, that wilted burdock is even better to wrap a burn. It is very soothing and also pain-relieving. Just remove the stem and spine before wilting)

broad leaf plantain

By the time everything is wrapped up, there should be a great feeling of relief. Remove the bandage after 12 hours, now you can use a gauze pad to gently pat the wound if you need to remove dead material or loose skin. Do not rub! Any white, gooey stuff is new skin growing, so let it be. Then re-apply your burn salve, nice and thick, and wrap in another wilted and cooled leaf before bandaging. Repeat this process every 12 hours and your burn will heal up very quickly.

Third degree burns, or burns covering very large portions of the body need to be treat professionally do to the risk of infection and dehydration.

For very mild burns or light sunburn, I like to use a burn spray I make myself and keep in the refrigerator consisting of Aloe juice and lavender essential oil. This spray is so lovely and cooling, and really speeds the healing of sunburn.

When looking for a burn salve, or making your own, you want the salve to have some of the following herbs, known for there helpfulness in healing burns...

  • comfrey--cell regeneration
  • lobelia--soothes muscle soreness
  • marshmallow--soothing, anti-inflammatory
  • white oak bark--astringent, antiseptic
  • honey--anti-bacterial, detoxifier, prevents scarring
  • aloe vera--reduces pain, great burn healer
  • st. john's wort--excellent burn healer, nerve healer
  • wormwood--reduces pain, antiseptic
  • burdock--reduces pain, healing
One of the best burn salves I have found on the market is B&W salve, which is available in Amish natural food stores around here. I'm hoping to make my own burn salve this year though, so stay tuned.

I am grateful for Rachel Weaver's teaching about burns. This local healer has amazing experience and so much to share.


  1. Great post! It's very informative. Aloe vera seems to be really good for burns but have you also tried applying propolis before? They say it has a cooling effect too that is very helpful when treating burns.

    1. So many excellent natural burn remedies. I personally don't use propolis because I try use what is growing around me, or what I can find locally or inexpensively. But it makes sense that propolis would be healing for burns. Thanks for the comment.

  2. I use a natural antibacterial honey-based dressing when I need to treat a burn or other major cut or scrape. Its by a company Medihoney and is supposed to be 100% natural and speed up healing time.