Botanical Treatments for Burns

First things first: I don’t recommend ever putting a salve on a fresh burn. It seems to hold the heat in and aggravate the burn. Once the heat is gone from the burn, salves can be very healing.

Second, don’t put ice on burns, especially severe burns, you run the risk of increasing tissue loss and increasing scar damage. A hospital once did this to my little sister’s hands when they were badly burned and it was a mess. Use cool or lukewarm water to help pull heat from the burn.

A very popular first defense for acute burns is Lavender essential oil, which is indeed quite effective in reducing pain, lessening the chance of infection and speeding healing. The downside is that you can’t make it yourself, everything then reeks of Lavender (ok for some, a bit much for others) and usually the relief is fairly temporary in more serious burns.

Perhaps my favorite and most often turned to treatment for any burn that hasn’t broken the skin (but fine for blistering) is Beebalm flower tincture. This stuff is amazing, it knocks the pain out better than the Lavender, lasts longer and often makes blisters disappear. If the skin’s broken, it’s going to sting of course so is far less desirable, but a cool tea compress or soak, or even a spit poultice will work great. It’s hard to chew up Beebalm flowers, they’re rather pokey and the kind here will light your mouth on fire so I just use leaves for spit poultices. Beebalm is very spicy in taste and has this amazing diffusive action that really MOVES the pain and heat, releases it even.

If you don’t have Beebalm flower tincture, try Evening Primrose or Rose tincture. Or Lavender, which is especially nice if it’s an elixir with a bit of honey or glycerine which are both soothing in their own right. Cool tea compresses work great of any of these plants too, especially once the acute screaming and dropping thing phase of the burn has passed. Spit poultices work good too. So many options! And perhaps most ideal for severe burns that require dressing is Beebalm flower and Rose petal honey, it’s the best thing I’ve used yet, and it’s very impressive.

For a sunburn, I prefer a diluted herbal vinegar wash or compress of any of the above herbs, with Rose and Beebalm coming in first for most effective treatment. I always keep Rose and/or Beebalm vinegar on hand for just such issues, which are very common here in the SW. This year, I aim to try a nice Alder leaf vinegar as well,  I expect good results.

Beebalm (or Evening Primrose or Rose or Lavender) can be taken internally to reduce anxiety and pain over the burn too.

A few other exemplary general burn herbs:

Cottonwood

Mugwort

Sage

Peach

Cherry

Elderflower

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