Foragers Level 1: Herbal First Aid

Herbal First Aid

Instructor – Katelyn Jarkowiec of Hey Thanks Herbal Co

Our guide today, Katelyn, gave us lots of opportunities to explore with all of our senses the plentiful medicine around us at Fox Haven.  She also shared from her personal experiences using herbal medicine in her own first aid situations.


The first plant we met today was plantain.  We found plentiful patches of this herb, often mistakenly identified as a common weed by those who don’t know about its superpowers.  Apparently, the leaf veins can even be used as sutures, although that is one application I hopefully won’t be trying any time soon.




Katelyn noted plantain can easily be used as a poultice, when hiking or working outdoors, to draw out dirt, infection, or splinters.  After tasting a leaf, we agreed it has a slightly drying astringent effect on our tongue, related to its famous drawing action.  Plantain infusion/tea is also known to be soothing for digestive inflammation and coughs.  We gathered some to include in the salve to make during class.





Violet was waiting for us nearby.  Our taste test noticed that violet was more mucilaginous and cooling than plantain.  Violet can lend its cooling hand for summer sunburns, eczema, or bug bites. It can also be infused in cold water as a cooling drink during hot spells.  It’s also helpful for scratchy dry throats or a cough.  Katelyn noted that violet leaves can sometimes be confused with ground ivy, especially during summer when Violet isn’t blooming with purple flowers.  To improve our identification, we compared Ground Ivy’s (left) more scalloped edges and round shape with Violet’s (right) heart shape and the slight inward curl of new leaves.



Yarrow was our third foraged plant for our salve.  Although the wild Yarrow we found was a bit past its prime, It’s fern-like leaves were still full of life.  A taste of the leaves found it slightly bitter and with a hint of fennel from its volatile oils.  Katelyn taught us about the amazing hemostatic qualities of Yarrow.  It is able to clot blood in first aid, yet can also helps blood flow to bring on delayed menstruation. I’m excited to use some of my own foraged Yarrow leaf to make a styptic powder for the first time!



Katelyn also pointed out Queen Anne’s Lace growing near the Yarrow since these two can sometimes be confused.  We found key diferences such as Queen Anne’s ‘hairy leg’ stems and the unique seed balls forming from spent flower clusters.





Herbal First Aid Salve

Finally, our foraging basket was full of violet, plantain, and yarrow leaves and we were ready to create a ‘Heal-All’ salve.

The plant leaves were cut up and added to sunflower oil in the top level of the double boiler then kept at a low heat, not going over 110° F,  for about 45 minutes.




While we waited for the plants to infuse the oil with their medicinal qualities, Katelyn introduced us to Mugwort.

Mugwort can be used as a calming nervine in tincture form or put under your pillow at night to induce lucid dreaming.  Katelyn noted she often takes Mugwort along when traveling or during times of seasonal changes for support during transitions and especially as a digestive aid.



Katelyn also inspired me with a list of possible Mugwort salve applications including warming, anti-spasmodic, stiffness aid, and it can be used for sleep or dreams.  As you can probably imagine, I can’t wait to create a Mugwort salve.

Herbal First Aid Kit

Katelyn also shared her personal first aid kit with us.  It was overflowing with amazing preparations such as calming tinctures, allergy-fighting tinctures, sprays, blood clotting powders, and salves for rashes.

Her Goldenrod-infused oil rollerball for headaches sounds like a wonderful idea as Goldenrod starts to show up and share its medicine over the next few weeks.

After the plants infused the oil for about 45 minutes, Katelyn added beeswax into the oil to let it melt and mix together to form the thicker salve consistency.

Then, it was ready to pour into tins.  After a few minutes setting up, the salve started to harden.  We each took one home to our own growing herbal first aid kits.


Happy Foraging, everyone!








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