How To Grow Your Own Antibacterial Bandages

October 1, 2013

Bandaids, Herbal Medicine

As I work on turning this one acre homestead into a self-sustaining Garden of Eden, I have two requirements for every single plant I consider putting in the ground: they must be either edible or medicinal. Preferably both.

Why? Because frankly I don’t have money or space to waste on frivolous landscaping. Everything from the plants to the animals must have a purpose.

More and more people are beginning to see the benefit of having a garden and growing your own food, but growing your own medicine could be equally as vital to your well being. What would you do if you couldn’t get the medical supplies or help you needed for a very long time? How would you manage?

As I plan my medicinal garden, I choose what to grow by studying different medical emergency scenarios and learning which plants I would be able to use if it ever came down to that.

One day as I was doctoring up one of my kiddos, the thought crossed my mind, “What if I couldn’t get any more of these band-aids? What could I use?” This question prompted me to delve into my herbal books and scour the internet for an answer. And I found a good one.

Young Wooly Lamb's Ear settling down for the winter.

Young Wooly Lamb’s Ear settling down for the winter.

Wooly Lamb’s Ear.

It’s one of my favorites because it’s medicinal AND edible.

A Natural Antibacterial Bandage

Wooly Lamb’s Ear, botanical name Stachys byzantina, has been used for centuries as a wound dressing on battlefields. Not only do the soft, fuzzy leaves absorb blood and help it to clot more quickly, they also contain antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties. All of these factors make this plant a really great alternative to store-bought bandages (especially since many of them are made in China!).

Other Medicinal Uses

Wooly Lamb’s Ear actually has many medicinal uses. You can heat a few bruised leaves in a pot of simmering water, and use the cooled infusion as an eyewash to treat pinkeye and sties.

Drink a tea made from young, dried Wooly Lamb’s Ear leaves to help with fevers, diarrhea, sore mouth and throat, internal bleeding, and weaknesses of the liver and heart. (~Wikipedia)

You can bruise the leaves so that the juices are released, and put them on bee stings or other insect bites to help reduce the swelling. The same effect can be seen when used for treating hemorrhoids, or for postpartum recovery.

Wooly Lamb's Ear

 

Still More Uses

As if Wooly Lamb’s Ear isn’t awesome enough, the list of uses continues.

Being soft and super absorbent, Lamb’s Ear leaves can be used as menstrual pads, or in place of cotton balls. It can even be used as toilet paper!

You can eat it as well. Enjoy young, tender leaves fresh in a salad, or gently steamed as greens.

 Are you growing Lamb’s Ear yet?

If you don’t have any of this important medicinal plant growing around your home yet, get some. If you can’t find any plants locally, buy some seeds and grow them yourself. It’s super easy, and much cheaper that way anyways. Lamb’s Ear make a gorgeous landscaping border, and grows well in containers. Plant as much as you have room for, ’cause it’ll come in handy when your stash of tp runs out!

Wooly Lamb's Ear leaves

How To Grow Your Own Antibacterial Bandages (Wooly Lamb’s Ear) From Seed

Starting your own plants from seed really is easy. Here’s how…

1. Fill a well-draining container with Seed Starting Mix.  A yogurt cup with holes poked in the bottom works nicely.

2. Wet the soil thoroughly. If you’re on city water, use filtered water for your plants. The chemicals in treated water can inhibit plant growth.

3. Plant 1-2 seeds per small container (thinning out the weakest seedling), or plant seeds about 6″ apart in a larger pot, burying them 1/4″ deep.

4. Keep the soil moist and the containers out of direct light until the seedlings germinate. As soon as you see the tops of the plants emerging, put them somewhere where they can get at least 6 hours of sunlight daily, or under a grow light. It helps to set the cups/pots in a shallow tray of water to keep the soil from drying out.

5. When the plants have at least three sets of leaves, they’re ready to be transplanted to a semi-shady place in your yard. Space them 12″ apart. They will multiply readily in good soil.

If you haven’t started thinking about growing some medicinal herbs, Wooly Lamb’s Ear is a perfect one to begin with. And in my opinion, you can never have enough!

Once you have it, don’t stop there! There are so many medicinal herbs you can be growing no matter where you live. Check out Grow Your Own Antibiotics for more great suggestions.

About Kendra Lynne

I'm a homeschooling, homesteading mama of four, doing everything I can to help my family live more self-sufficiently on our one country acre here in the Bible Belt South. Although my husband and I grew up as city kids, in 2008 we started feeling the urge to begin pulling ourselves out of the "system" and learning how to provide for our most basic needs. Boy, were we in for a learning curve!! It's been a journey, but we've come a long way. I've been sharing about it all on my website, New Life on a Homestead, and am excited to bring the preparedness aspect of this lifestyle to all of you here as well! Be sure to check out my *NEW* Canning DVD: At Home Canning For Beginners and Beyond

View all posts by Kendra Lynne

58 comments on “How To Grow Your Own Antibacterial Bandages

  1. This is one of the best posts I’ve seen written on a medicinal herb. Very informative with the different information about the purposes and exactly how to use it. I love your view on the vegetation you plant-to make them useful.

    • Thanks, Missy Homemaker! :) I love learning about different plants and how to use them. I’m hoping to add many more articles like this as I’m able.

    • Siinew on said:

      Seriously? LOL, this is the “one of the best articles on a medicinal herb” you’ve ever read?! You don’t get out much I’m guessing… or out much even on the internet. This article is horrible. There is so much better out there. Google “antibacterial herbs” or visit one of half a dozen REAL herbalists out there – Kiva Rose, Sevensong, Stephen Buhner, Sam Coffman, Charles Garcia, and on and on, who actually USE antibacterial herbs in clinical environments and aren’t using something as weak and ineffective as lamb’s ear. There are hundreds, if not thousands of good anti-bacterial herbs depending on what it is you’re trying to deal with, and lamb’s ear ain’t even in the top 200.

      • Siinew,

        You’re absolutely right. There are definitely many more herbs out there which have more antibacterial properties than Lamb’s Ear. The article was basically a profile of the Wooly Lamb’s Ear plant, and the many uses for it- mainly as a bandage in an emergency situation. I’ve heard from lots of people who have it growing, but never knew of its medicinal qualities. It’s always fun to learn something new and useful ;)

        • Stephanie Penglase on said:

          Teach us your ways oh great leader!

          I don’t remember her ever claiming to be a master herbalist at all.

          It depends on your region what is best to use. And I distinctly remember Rosemary Gladstar boasting on the benefits of Wooly lambs ear.

        • Cherrilyn on said:

          Kendra that was a great response to Siinew. Love how you handled that. On another note, I found this article exceptional and very informative. Thank you & looking forward to your next article.

      • Deb Hoaglund on said:

        Instead of being a sarcastic ASS…You should congratulate someone on the knowledge they share…Then offer your own great knowledge. There is no reason for you to be so hateful!

      • patty sullivan on said:

        Why be so mean??I am just stating to learn a little about herbs and their medicinal qualities and I liked the article about Lamb’s ear.I happened to have it in my yard already,so I will have it if I needed it.Because I don’t have all the others yet.So thank you Kendra Lynne,and as far as Siinew,you are the one that needs to learn something,and that is to be nice.

      • What a horrible response to a well meaning and informative article. You should be ashamed Siinew

      • Lois Carver on said:

        I must say I enjoy your information on fuzzy sheep ear.
        Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us. Good luck.

      • Nancy on said:

        Instead making a worthless comment condemning someone, if you have such lofty knowledge that is better than this – STATE IT! I hate it when people just criticize others but don’t state what is “better.”

      • Since you seem to have all the answers then why don’t you enlighten us and tell us what those are?

  2. I tried using it as toilet paper years ago. It’s not great. We used chopped up bits of dried loofah sponge in a once only use and drop down the composting loo. Worked better than loo paper when we spent 6 months without spending a dollar.

  3. Jeanne Walsh on said:

    I’d like to know if you know of anything that has done any good for psoriasis? Also Cholesterol? Also have you a facebook page? Thank you.

    • I have not yet had an opportunity to experiment with treating psoriasis or cholesterol with herbs. I wish I knew what to tell you that would help! I know there are answers out there, just keep searching the web and trying different things. I’d love to have you join me on facebook:

      https://www.facebook.com/pages/New-Life-On-A-Homestead/185860924762507?ref=tn_tnmn

    • Steven on said:

      Many skin issues are from your liver not being able to process the toxins that most take into their bodies on a daily basis.

      Treat the liver and you may allow your skin condition to improve or be resolved.

      Burdock, Yellow Dock Dandelion and any other liver target herbs should help. Also take in some organic alfalfa and/or oat straw to get some great micro nutrients going. Might even help your cholesterol issues as well!

  4. What a great article! I love growing this herb but haven’t planted it since we moved to UT. Thanks for the reminder! We shared this with our FB readers at homesteadlady.com.

  5. As a person devoted to learning more about medicinal herbs and uses, as I am taking correspondence course for “Certified Traditional Naturopath”, love this post..As I learn new info, I order the plants for my garden and use accordingly..Thanks again..

    • I’d love to know if you learn anything else about Wooly Lamb’s Ear in your classes, Twana! :)

    • Caroline on said:

      Hello Twana,
      I am curious about your ‘certified Traditional Natoropath’ course you are taking. Can you tell me where I can look it up as I am interested myself. Knowledge is a powerful thing and especially when it comes from nature and especially at this time we are living in. Thank you so much. God Bless..

      • Carolyn on said:

        I got my doctorate in traditional naturopathic through Trinity School of Natural Health. Most states don’t recognize it, so I just tell people I have studied Naturopathy.

  6. Jack Lewis on said:

    Companion plants aren’t always edible or medicinal, but very useful in keeping pests away, for instance. My favourite is marigold with tomatoes, although I accept that you can use marigold flowers in salads. Others just help their ‘companion’ with no direct benefit to you.

    • Hi Jack,

      Actually, Pot Marigold (also called Calendula) is great for skin irritations, such as eczema. Many medicinal and culinary herbs also make fantastic companion plants. Since we don’t have a lot of space here, and my time is limited, I try to make the most of what I plant. What I use as companion plants usually have dual purpose :) Happy gardening!

  7. Charles on said:

    Great article. Love my Lamb’s Ears. Especially because deer HATE them and won’t munch them or pull them up. Rabbits leave them alone and they spread nicely but not aggressively. I’ll be adding more to my herb garden based on your article. Well done!

  8. Greta Hollis on said:

    I would love to have emails and/or FB posts from you!! I have Wooly Lambs Ear and didn’t know it had any of these uses! I’m so excited!!

  9. P Elder on said:

    I really enjoyed your article and look forward to using this. But I was a little confused on why/how this replaces band-aids. Thanks for teaching us! Keep up your important good work!

    • You could use Wooly Lamb’s Ear as a bandage during times when you might need a band-aid but you’re out of them, and you can’t get to the store right away. You’d just have to wrap something around to tie the leaves on the wound. Hope that helps!

  10. Those would tickle the whole way down if you ate them. :) Just kidding; the young leaves are probably not as furry.

  11. Jackie on said:

    Thanks for sharing about lambs ear, Kendra
    I’ve been curious about it and other medicinal a.

  12. For psoriasis. sunlight works very well for many people. get a good dark tan.Go to Florida in January and bake in the sun. Coal Tar also helps many people. messy too. Father had extensive psoriasis and sunlight did better than any meds ever did. All available if modern medications are not available. Often better and safer than modern meds.

  13. I have had lamb’s ear growing in a little corner for my kids to play with, they love the stuff for their dirt kitchen in the backyard. I have always wondering if there was a use for the stuff besides being a remedy to stinging nettle. Now I have found it – thanks so much for the information. I am always looking for ways to make my own everything and I love the idea of using these for bandages.

  14. Is this the same as Verbascum thapsis? Common name Lamb’s Ear

    • This Wooly Lamb’s Ear is Stachys byzantina.

    • Heather on said:

      Verbascum thapsis is mullein, not lamb’s ear. Mullein is also a very useful herb, but, except for TP and wound dressing, the uses are different. The leaves, smoked, are awesome for coughs, the flowers, made into oil, are good for earaches, and, IIRC, there are other uses, as well.

  15. Lynn Burrow on said:

    How can we tell the difference between the two kinds of Lamb’s Ear? And do they have the same uses?
    Lynn B.

  16. Jane Campbell on said:

    Hi Kendra! This interests me because I grow Lamb’s Ears and also my family is allergic to normal bandaids. We have a hard time trying to find alternatives – will have to give this a go! Thank you.

    • Great! They should work really well, you’ll just have to find a way to fasten them to the wound. You can tie a piece of cloth around it if the adhesive in bandages and gauze tape irritates your skin.

  17. Cindy Scott on said:

    It grows like a weed around here and spreads into the sod. I’m glad it actually has a use. I was about to pull as much out as I could so I could plant more useful plants. Who would have thunk it?

  18. I’m so happy I found this article. I have Lamb’s Ear growing in our front flower bed but it’s mainly because it just loves our clay soil so I don’t have to do anything to keep it growing and it spreads on it’s own. My time and attention is devoted to our vegetable garden so I try to use things in the flower beds that I don’t have to maintain. I did not know of it’s many uses though and I am so pleased to find them! Thank you for the information.

  19. Great article!thanks for sharing

  20. Great information. I would like to add Lambs Ear is a favorite of the bees. We need to keep the bees happy. :)

  21. sobi on said:

    Growing one’s own hygienic paper is an excellent idea. I don’t know why it never crossed my mind. That is why I love all these prepping websites. I also learned about kitty litter as a substitute for plumbing in an emergency. It makes perfect sense and takes a certain anxiety out of the way.

    I do want to suggest that there are more reasons for growing a plant, and perhaps might be considered if a patch of ground lays unplanted, and one is tired of squash.

    One is for the ground itself, nitrogen producing roots and plant fibers to plow under, another is for soil balance, and the last one I suggest, but not final, is the eye, heart, and spirit. Those things matter. And they will matter a lot in TEOTWAWKI.

  22. Glenna on said:

    Good article. I was taught to use lamb’s ear many years ago by a friend of mine. My first encounter with it was after I had rope burned my hand pretty badly (the colt ran, I forgot to let go..sigh). My friend always kept a baggie full of leaves in the freezer. Lamb’s ear keeps very well when frozen. She took one and wrapped it on my burns, which were pretty deep and very painful. The relief was almost immediate, not sure if it was from plant or the fact that the leaf was cold. After two days of wrapping my fingers in gauze and lamb’s ear, the burns were almost completely healed. I’ve used it for many scrapes and scratches, burns and bites since. I love this stuff, and like my friend, always have a baggie in the freezer…

  23. Shannon on said:

    where can I purchase this an/or chomfrey?

  24. Patricia on said:

    Who knew? I have some growing in my lawn that keeps getting mowed. I think I will dig it up and plant it in a place where it can grow properly.

    I was saddened by your comments about frivolous landscaping and everything needing a purpose – i.e. it must be edible or medicinal.

    Our lives need beauty too. Spectacular, showy flowers such as peonies and dahlias, bring joy to us and soothe our souls.

    • Patricia,

      No need to be saddened! You’d be surprised by how many of the plants you’d think were simply for aesthetics are actually edible or medicinal (or both)! I grow peonies as well. They were handed down to me from my mother-in-law’s mother. They’re beautiful, and bring much joy. They’re also edible! :) Did you know that Dahlias are edible as well? There are many flowers that I grow for their beauty, which are also edible. There’s no reason your yard can’t be gorgeous and useful at the same time. :)

  25. A very good article that is plant specific. I know lambs ear as a native plant. It is almost always confined to more hydric locations (desert grassland here) in this region though.
    Nurseries offer it as a ground cover or bedding plant during the spring.
    This article gives me good reason to pick some up this coming spring.
    Keep up the good work.
    A good counterpoint set of articles would be plants to stay away from, especially “look a-likes” that could have the average laymen, city slicker, urbanite wandering out in the wilds doing the starving type thing, etc. puking their guts up or becoming buzzard meat real fast.
    One that comes to mind is Death Cammus vs wild onion. Another is yuccas vs saccuista.
    A few that come to mind are death cammus,

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