SOUP & The Rattlesnake Bite!
Back in April/2017, Sam Coffman was doing a 10 day First Aid Course at Eden Hot Springs. My students were apart of this course and Voyage Botanica (My School) was hosting the event.
Soup is a mixed breed female which just had delivered 5 puppies about 8 weeks before the event. Soup is a lovely dog from The Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. My dog "Mansa" comes from this litter!
Soup was at Eden Hot Springs during this event and on day #1, she was struck by a rattlesnake, right above her right eye.
Her face and head were swollen at least 2 times normal.
I was there when she got struck.
Between Sam and myself, with the assistance of a few others this is what we did ..Immediately, within a few minutes, we washed her wound with lots of Echinacea extract, lots of it!
Between washing her wound with Echincaea we applied prickly pear pads on the open area. On each pad I mixed some Red Dock Powder (Rumex hymenosepalus) to increase the drawing power. In between changing the pads, we washed the wound with Echinacea. We also tried to get Soup to take as much as she could internally.
In addition to the Red Dock Powder on the Prickly Pear Pads (gel side on wound), I also put Echinacea extract, along with Indian Root Extract
( Aristolochia watsonii) and mixed it into the pads gel. Indian Root has a history for being used for snake bites in Mexico.
To be honest, head or neck bites from a rattlesnake are pretty much fatal. I knew we would do everything in our power and skill set to help her. We used everything in our herbal first aid kits that was applicable, but still I knew her chances were slim. Echinacea has a remarkable history for such situations, but never have I heard it working on head bites with any success.
Between dousing the wound and getting Soup to take both the alcohol and glycerin extracts internally of Echinacea Root, we probably used 4 ounces in the first 2 days. After day #2 we really did not give her that much of anything. By day #4 she was playing with her two puppies - Mansa and Osha like nothing had ever happened.
The Rattle Snake was caught by my friend Leo and myself, and I relocated it a few miles away.
The photos are amazing. The first photo was of Soup on day #1. The second photo is about 4 days later.
It is a pretty remarkable recovery from a rattlesnake bite in just 4 days !!
* I know in my first aid kit I had both species present, both Echinacea angustifolia and E. purpurea, and I used all mine up. I can't recall what species Sam Coffman was using? (Sam has since confirmed he used Echinacea angustifolia}.
I do know and I feel strongly that Echinacea angustifolia makes a better venomous critters medicine than other species. Most of the history of its use as a Rattlesnake bite medicine is for the root of Echinacea angustifolia.
* At this point in my research and first hand use of Prickly Pear Pads, I mostly use Opuntia ficus-indica, Luther Burbank Spineless varieties. However, I have used other species of Opuntia with similar success.
* Keep in mind not all venomous creatures, like Rattlesnakes deliver all their venom into a bite. Sometimes it is a dry bite, sometimes 20% venom, sometimes all of it! In this case there was a fair amount. The wound had visible yellow glue like venom seeping out, which I carefully wiped away, making sure not to get any on my hand. I know about this because when I was younger I collected venomous snakes like the Eastern Diamond Back, Coral Snake, and others, collecting venom with my father for the research trade.
In this case, Soup's head was twice normal in size, which is a classic symptom of some venom being present in the body.
A (Very) long but great early writing on the use of Echinacea for venomous bites and Septicemia.
USING PRICKLY PEAR PADS (Opuntia spp.) to treat wounds!
Prickly Pear pad - use cold running water and a stick or brush and knock off the little hairs before using as a medicine.
Slice the Prickly Pear Pad up into slices, cut big enough for use or to cover infected area.
Slice the cut pieces of the Prickly Pear Pad open to expose the gel of the insides. Mash the gel up a bit before use.
You can scrape the gel of the Prickly Pear Pad and just use that or leave on the outer skin. Either way works.
The scraped Prickly Pear Pad Gel, directly put on the wound and ready for bandage.
Or you can - The gel or gooey side is touching the wound. Now you are ready to wrap with bandage. If would is serious, change every 1/2 hour.
Wrapped and held in place by gauze bandage.
Scraped Prickly Pear Gel, Goldenseal powder and Red Dock Powder (Rumex hymenosepalus) - Ready to mix together and to be placed on staph wound or other serious infection. Even though the straight prickly pear gel is an amazing healing agent all by itself ... I often like to add herbal powders and extracts, all things that might be appropriate for whatever wound or bite I am trying to treat. Then put this mix in place and hold on with a gauze bandage .. not too tight.
SOME REMARKABLE USES OF THE PRICKLY PEAR CACTUS
ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PLANT MEDICINES - For FIRST AID
Especially for venomous bites, stings and super infections of the skin!
(My favorite Opuntia species is Luther Burbank’s Spineless Variety)
“Between 1907 and 1925, Luther Burbank introduced more than 60 varieties of spineless cacti. These were developed mostly from hybrids of varieties of the Indian fig (Opuntia ficus-indica) and the Mexican prickly pear (Opuntia tuna), and were offered in two main types: the fruiting varieties, grown for their variously colored and flavored prickly pears, and the forage varieties, grown for their edible pads (properly called thalli), which could be fed raw to livestock or cooked for human consumption.” lutherburbank.org
Many years ago, I was interviewed for Stephanie Marohn’s book - NATURAL MEDICINE FIRST AID REMEDIES - this is what I said then about Prickly Pear (page 51)
“For a boil at any stage, prickly pear cactus provides an excellent remedy, according to Michael Cottingham, a clinical herbalist from Silver City, New Mexico. As it is useful for many health ailments, he recommends growing it as a houseplant if your climate precludes growing it outside. It doesn’t harm the cactus to break off one of its pads.
A pad from the prickly pear is a powerful anti-inflammatory and hypotonic, which is a sucking and drawing substance, explains Cottingham. The nature of the cactus is to seek moisture, pull it in, and hold it. The pad acts on a boil as it does in nature, seeking out the weakest point on your skin, which is the boil, then drawing out and sucking up its fluid contents - the pus and inflammatory products.
To prepare the pad (spine laden varieties), knock off the prickles using a potholder or thick glove. Then use tongs to hold the pad over a flame (a burner on a gas stove is easiest, but a candle or a lighter will work) and burn off the spine of the pad. Hold the pad under cold running water to flush away burned parts and charred spines. Then cut it in half. Cut one of the pieces crosswise to expose the gooey inside of the pad. Make sure it’s not too hot, and then place one of the pieces, gooey side down, on your boil.
Use a fresh piece of pad every half-hour. Keep applying the pads until the inflammation and infection are gone. You can tailor the size of pad you break off the cactus to the size of the area you need to treat and cut into the appropriate sized pieces.
With the Luther Burbank variety, you only have small “glochids” to deal with, that is small hair like spines. These can be brushed off easily with a stick or brush, under cold running water. Easy!
This variety is also very easy to cultivate. If you live in colder climates, bring indoors for the cold times. I would venture to guess that this Opuntia could grow outdoors easily for at least 1/3 of the United States.
Easy to grow ... just place in soil as shown in this photo!
Or in a pot, so you can bring in for the winter in colder climates.
MANY, MANY USES:
Whenever I need to pull infection out of the body, and when this can be done topically, I love recommending these pads to people.
Successfully been used (first hand experience) in these situations:
Severe Mastitis, Brown Recluse bites, Black Widow bite, Rattlesnake bite (3 cases to date), Tooth Abscess, numerous types of boils, 2nd and almost 3rd degree types of burns, and other skin type of infections. Is an excellent vehicle and remedy for serious staph infections.
A remarkable and serious first aid medicine and is easy to grow.
I have used at least 20 different species of Prickly Pear (Opuntias) and would venture to say that they all could be used this way. I have used the ones from the American Southwest, and ones from Australia and Africa.
The nature of these cacti to pull or suck fluids is what makes them one of natures finest poultices.
Sometimes, I will mix in dry, powdered herbs into the gooey gel, or even ad some herbal extracts to the gel. In the case of rattlesnake bites, I use the prickly pear pads, with extracts of Echinacea, Indian Root, and Black Cohosh mixed in the gel. Changing the pad every 1/2 hour. Of course, keep in mind in all of these cases other herbal medicines where taken internally.
The more severe the infection, the more often you should change the pads.
Using these pads as food also provides other medicinal value. When eaten on a regular basis, Prickly Pear Pads have helped people control their Adult-Onset Diabetes.