I was recently bitten (5 times!!) by a Brown Recluse Spider. I have only come to know what these spider even exist in the last couple of years. This is catalog of that awareness, in it I will share the highlights of identifying this dangerous little spider a the natural cure for its poisonous bite should you (or someone you love!) be bitten.
I was first introduced to the Brown Recluse Spider, at a camp ground - when we were camping with some friends over Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Some of the Biblical Feasts of YHVH). When we met a family who made these kits and was starting to sell them. The mother proceeded to tell me about these spiders and how dangerous they were, their experience and how they came to start this small family business. I was intrigued, but we lived in PA at the time and the Brown Recluse are not very prevalent up there, so I chalked it up to "nice to know" and left it at that. I shared what I had learned with my husband and he reminded me that a friend ours from Oklahoma, was said to have been bitten by a brown recluse spider that went untreated and added to further complications which lead to his DEATH in the hospital while being treated! (How could I forget that??!!) Well, about three or four years later, YHVH (God) moved my family to Tennessee. I remembered, these two instances of the Brown Recluse. When we were camping here on the farm for our first 6 months rebuilt the house, we started seeing the Brown Recluse everywhere! I looked up the kits the lady who had developed them was selling several years ago and bought one, so that I might be prepared! It's major components were activated charcoal and a tincture of plantain, lobelia and echinacea tincture in a grain alcohol base. It comes with detailed instructions and there is lots of info on their site. I recommend having one on hand if you live the region of poisonous spider or snakes. I started my research and learned many things about Activated Charcoal. Since then "charcoal" has become a household word 'round here and made it to the top of my list of emergency/poison/sickness/survival remedies to have in stock and has been used for lots of things since then.
Now, back to real time - as I type I have 5 brown recluse bites on my legs right now!
I am not sure when it happened, but I suspect it was when I was on the field (with my children) clearing out our Wild Passion Fruit Patch and trellising them hoping to get fruit from them (i have seen them in our high grasses before) OR it happened in my sleep. I never saw the culprit and can only surmise it from the wound's development - which I had previously studied and "brushed up on" with a live example before my eyes!
Let me introduce you to the Brown Recluse Spider:
As you can see here by this picture, he is a very small spider, his body maybe a 1/4 inch and with legs added - you are looking a little over an inch big.
The best defining mark is the violin shaped marking on the front portion of the spider's body. (This is his back - NOT his belly, like a black widow's identifying hourglass mark.) They are quick and small and are called recluse for a reason; They like to hide and be left alone. They don't usually go looking for trouble - but if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, they will react defensively. I liken them to grumpy little hermits. :-)
My photos turned out pretty crumby, so I am not going to post them. Thankfully I caught my bites in their early stages of development.
All 5 of my bites were on my legs. One on my calf, one at my ankle, one behind my knee and the one on my inner thigh (that was a double bite). The one on my ankle swelled quickly and got a hardened ring around it as it blistered and a purple redness started to spread redness spread. The other two, had the very purple red under layer that started to spread quickly and small bumps on the surface. You could see a very small bite entrance (similar to any bug bit). In a nutshell, the poison from the spider's bite spreads quickly and eats the flesh away from the infected area. The site is very susceptible to infection and is usually treated with amputation and can lead to death in severe cases.
I instinctively started putting Activated Charcoal paste poultice on the bites and covered it with a bandage, even before I realized what they were. All but one, I put bentanite clay on it to start. The ones that I put charcoal on showed healing right away and it took me a day longer to identify the the 4th and 5th bites, because they were behind the knee. My DH saw those (thank you Yah!!). By this time I was confident what they were and was diligent to see their treatment through!! I didn't want to "play" with the bentanite clay any more, so I kept treating using a charcoal poultice. (This is simply taking activated carbon and mixing a little pit of water in it to make a wet paste and applying it to the bite. Then I covered it with a band aid each time.) I have done this a few times a day. Then I pulled out the kit I had bought and started using that. I think that the charcoal alone was doing the trick just fine, but I figured, "better safe than sorry". ;-) The tincture stung because of the alcohol. The instructions suggested diluting it more if that be the case. They also suggested doing it more frequently than I had been doing it, but I was making progress. I didn't fuss about it. I will continue treatment for one day after the symptoms subside to be sure I go all the poison out. I also noticed that when I was off my feet, it's healing progressed faster. I had a big day of canning and it had inflamed and started looking scary. It calmed back down in the night and the next day I decided I best stay off my feet. This also allowed to apply fresh treatment a couple more times and that is when the quickest healing progress too place. So that is definitely important. If it were anyone else, I would have insisted that the wound be elevated and the patient be still. ( And I would do that differently next time, if it were me!)
Although I have not had this personal experience yet - research shows that charcoal can also draws out the toxin of the black widow spider bites and poisonous snake bites too. I have been informed by locals that only SOME of the hospitals in our region have black widow serum, so you need to know which one to go to (even though they are prevalent in our region!). I asked, what if you don't know what it was and they take you to the wrong hospital - and don't figure it out til you get their? The reply was, they try to get send for it, or transfer you there - whatever they find would be the quickest scenario at the time. Can you believe that?? From what I read there is no serum for the brown recluse bites.
If you research Brown Recluse bites - you will see how gruesome and dangerous they become if they go untreated. And I had 5 at once!!! Who gets bit 5 times at once? That is crazy!! However, I am very thankful that I became aware of my bites and that I had the materials and understanding to respond quickly. They are almost completely healed now I am thankful for the experience to know what to look for for the safety of others. Praise Yah!
And to top it all off, do you know what? One day prior to my bites my girlfriend emailed to tell me her son had been bitten by a Brown Recluse! She started treating his with crushed plantain leaves and coconut oil. Than started using the charcoal on it. Her experience was the same. She said she was gonna write it up for me to share on the blog because she thought people should know about this. Who knew that I would get bit (5 times!) the next day and have my own story to tell??? So if you are reading this...apparently Yah wants YOU to know!! :-)
Update: I wanted to include this comment from a reader ( Cindy) who had valuable information to share on the seriousness of this bite if it goes untreated quickly. (You can better see how much I have to thankful for, abd how valuable charcoal is in your emergency kit.):
"The more you move around the more the poison travels.Keep still and keep it elevated.Brown Recluse poison will kill off your kidney.That is how most die.Drink lots of clear fluids and watch your urine..and if you get any fever haul it to the hospital.We have known 4 people of dying from the bites..up to 2 weeks after the bites happened.Red streaks,swelling
chills nausea..go to the DR.
Praise God for the info on the charcoal..I believe you are on a great healing tract...but please be cautious and smart!! Your family needs you. "
I also want to include a link to where you can buy medical grade Charcoal and a book that will teach you all about it from a missionary doctor's experience serving in the third world. It can treat SO MUCH MORE than poison bites, so please get informed and use this affordable natural and very effective element in your emergency/ health care kit! It is one I will teach my children about and not be without in my own.
Also, here is a link to a very informative article on Brown Recluse bite effects from emedicinehealth.com
This post was shared at the Preparedness Challenge
Update: January 2013
I have had the opportunity to treat several more brown recluse bites since I wrote this post and I have modified my technique. This fall I helped a lady who's infection had and was continuing to advance very rapidly. It was eating away the flesh in the center and made it very hard to change the dressings with out taking her deteriorating skin with it. There were two things I learned that I will do as standard procedure whenever possible from now on - whenever possible.
1. In addition to the charcoal, I like to add about 1/4th part ground flax seed and then activated by hot hot water mixed and needed into a "dough". This has wonderful healing properties in itself - which I am not going to go into. But what I found was it's most valuable contribution was how it changed the texture of the dressing. When treating any wound it allows the dressing to come on and off much easier without sticking to the would. It's consistency is much like silly putty. This was very helpful when dressing the deteriorating skin of the advanced bites. But it also appreciated on all the skin. The charcoal can feel gritty when wiped off to change the dressing. The other very important benefit - is that it keeps the charcoal wetter longer. When the charcoal dries, it is no longer actively pulling. This slows the pull rate. Buy keeping it as moist as possible between the dressing changes, it not only requires less dressing changes, but it also is more effective because it is drawing without rest- that is IDEAL. It makes dressing changes so much easier, less painful and faster for the you and the victim. Lastly the other nifty thing about this method is that you can make a little batch of it ahead instead of having to prepare a poultice at each dressing change. This is very NICE! Especially if you are way from home. If can be stored in a little glass container - which always my preference. I know people who have used plastic pill bottles or zip lock bags..but with charcoals drawing power..i just don't trust it in plastic. But you want to keep it air tight. Then you can just pull your little hunk off the "dough" and use it.
2. The other thing I have added is fresh plantain leaves - whenever possible. I learned that by spreading the poultice onto a plantain leaf and then applying to the wound, it was much more tolerable to the victim. This eliminates the need to rub it on the wound. Then you just turn it upside down onto the wound gently. This can also be done with gauze. However, if you use the plantain leaf you have the added power of the plantain drawing and healing - even though it on top of the charcoal. It plentiful, it grows everywhere in the US and can be found in almost every yard!
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