Jackass Bitters leaves

The topic for this month will be on using a couple medicinal plants found in Belize and other tropical areas of the Americas.

While using my machete to remove some coconuts from a tree, I accidentally stabbed my left thumb with the machete. Nothing serious, but I still bled a lot before I got back to the house, cleaned it up and applied some medicine to prevent an infection.

My usual go-to treatements for this type of thing is hydrogen peroxide applied immediately folowed by Triple Antibiotic ointment 2 or 3 times a day until it’s healed. What would one do if in the bush and no access to modern antibiotics?

This time I did something different, I applied an herbal “Wound Powder” that I learned from Rosita Arvigo last year. I had already made the Wound Powder so all I had to do was sprinkle it over the cut and cover it with a bandage. It worked well.

Now that I have a working camera I thought it would be a great time to make some more and take photos of the steps required to make it.

Wound Powder, How to Make It

Step One

First gather some leaves from the Jackass Bitters plant (Neurolaena lobata, aka manu do lagarto tres puntas, three points, kayabin, k’a’mank) and the Polly Red Head tree. (Hamelia patens, aka firebush, hummingbird bush, scarlet bush, 1x Canaan, Guardian of the Forest)

Jackass Bitters leavesPolly Red Head Tree

Note that a leaf from the Polly Red Head sapling that’s growing in my yard is about 1/6 the size of a Jackass Bitters leaf. I wanted equal amounts of each, so I gathered 6 times more of the Polly Red Head leaves.

Step Two

Allow the leaves to dry out, at least overnight or an hour or two in a dehydrator.

Dried Polly Red Head and Jackass Bitters leaves

Step 3

Crush all of the leaves into a dry frying pan or skillet. Do not include any oil or water in the pan. Crush the leaves into very small pieces and remove any long stems.

Crushed Dried leaves

Step 4

Scorch the crushed leaves over low to medium heat, stirring to break up the leaves into even smaller pieces iwth a stirring tool as they are heated. I used a wooden spoon.

dried leaves scorched in a pan, stirring with a wooden spoon

Step 5

The result will be a coarse dark brown or black ash.

black ash in skillet

Step 6

Sift the coarse ash by pushing it through a fine strainer.

sifting ash through strainer

Step 7

The fine sifted ash is the Wound Powder. Store it in a glass jar, or at least where it won’t get wet from rain or humidity. So long as it stays dry and protected, it’s shelf life is unlimited.

sifted powder ready to store

Up north in the States, yarrow has a similar use with wounds, except I normally used fresh yarrlw and I masticate it to break it up to deliver it’s juices to my own wounds. Finding fresh yarrow isn’t always easy. Maybe I should have tried using dried yarrow, so I have no experience in using that form.

Wound Powder – How to Use it

Using wound powder definately has a great advantage over using fresh yarrow. THe powder form is easier to store and apply. When I stabbed my thumb, this is how I applied it.

powder applied to stab wound

Of course the powder falls off, so I had to cover it with a bandage.

machete injury covered with bandage

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