Spiders in my bed is nothing new. In fact, it is rather commonplace. I have been startled awake by something creeping up my leg more times than I care to remember. I have been bit by wolf spiders plenty of times.
I know – you shake your head in disbelief but I assure you, this is all true. I blamed it on having an attic access in our bedroom. It’s sort of a gateway for spiders and once they get into our room, its playtime! (Of course there is my theory about the spiders trying to warn us about the mold…which is formulated after we left the house).
We don’t just have spiders in bed with us. No, they roam about like they own the join both inside and out. I’ve tried every natural solution out there (read more about my attempts here) but the spiders just love me. They want to get up close and personal. At one point, I had to resort to chemicals because the black widow population was getting a bit scary but honestly, I’ve learned to accept my eight-legged housemates. Reluctantly.
Things had actually been going well for quite some time. The spiders were still hanging around but it seemed like after blackwidowgate, many of them moved on, or just stayed out of sight. And then…
I must have angered the spider-gods, if there is such a thing.
Or maybe it was just bad luck. Whatever the case, my luck with kind and loving spiders wore out.
It was a Wednesday morning and I woke up with my leg in major, major pain. My calf was on fire and the muscle felt like it was being ripped a part. I turned on the light, lifted my pajama bottom, and stared in disbelieve. What the heck had happened to the back of my calf?
It was ugly. Bright red, swollen, shiny, and flaming hot. I went to get out of bed and could barely walk my calf muscle hurt so bad. I took a closer look and saw a small hole that was oozing some clearish fluid.
I started in with bentonite clay poultices as well as taking this clay internally. I soaked my leg in Epson salts. I limped around feeling worse and worse. I knew that things weren’t looking good but I kept trying to get the toxins out myself. I added in some castor oil packs that evening since they worked so well when my tail blew up. (Read about that here!)
The next morning things were worse. I couldn’t bare any weight on that leg. The red area has grown to completely cover my entire lower leg. It was more swollen, throbbing, and literally so hot it hurt to touch.
I decided a trip to the doctor was in order. I know when to utilize the wonders of modern medicine and since overall I was feeling pretty cruddy, I knew that things could go from bad to worse quickly.
The consensus was that I was definitely had a poisonous spider bite and was having an extreme reaction at the bite site.
Nothing shocking there. The issue was that since I didn’t know for sure what species the assailant was, all we could do was…wait for it…use some natural remedies to draw out the toxins. My doctor said, and I quote, “there is nothing synthetic out there that will draw out the poison like clay and salt.”
I did agree to a steroid shot because the inflammation was out of control. This was the fastest way to handle the swelling and at that point, I was desperate for some relief.
Now, I went home concerned because the clay and salt soaks didn’t seem to work the day before. The clay was soothing but I just didn’t feel like it was drawing things out. So I did some asking and some research and decided to try alternating between activated charcoal packs and fresh plantain poultices.
Guess what? Those two remedies worked for me! I was thrilled. It wasn’t instant but 24 hours later and my lower leg was no worse than it had been. Throughout the course of the next 12 hours, the redness began to lesson and the fiery heat began to cool enough to give me some hope.
How I Treated a Poisonous Spider Bite Naturally
So let me tell you exactly what I did. I won’t promise that it will work for you but I can at least share how I did things in the event you find yourself in a similar situation and want some options. A spider bite can be dangerous so again, please don’t hesitate to get medical help.
Activated Charcoal Packs
Activated charcoal is known to reduce inflammation and absorb poison from your skin caused by infection, chemicals, or insect bites and stings. It was a no-brainer to give it a try.
For me, this worked very quickly. I could almost feel it drawing the toxins from the spider bite to the surface. I simply added 2 teaspoons of this activated charcoal powder to a wee bit of pretty warm water. I got it wet enough to be able to soak a gauze pad like this one. Once the gauze pad was soaked, I placed it over the bite and then covered it with four additional larger pads like these. You want to tape it at the top, bottom, and along the sides so it doesn’t leak. The black won’t permanently stain but its one more thing to clean up!
I left the activated charcoal pack on for 2 hours then removed it, let it air out for 30 minutes and moved on to a plantain poultice.
Plantain is the #1 herb used for blood poisoning. It works quickly when time is of the essence. A plantain poultice can draw out venom before it has a chance to do real damage.
Ideally you need fresh plantain but in a pinch, you can use dried plantain. Grab a small handful of fresh plantain, wash it, then chew it up. Yes, chew it up. Your saliva enzymes activate a lot of the goodness in the leaves. Plus you will swallow a bit of the juice which his good too. If that grosses you out then put it in a coffee or spice grinder (be sure it is totally clean) and get it mashed up.
Put the mashed up plantain onto a small gauze pad and place it over the spider bite area. Secure a couple more gauze pads over the top of it with tape. Leave this in place for 2 hours. After 2 hours, remove it, let it air out for 30 minutes, then go back to another activated charcoal pack. You see the pattern? Activated charcoal, plantain. Repeat.
If using dried plantain, you need to reconstitute it. Basically, take 2 tablespoons of dried cut plantain leaves and about 1 cup of boiling distilled water. Pour the boiling water over the plantain, cover and steep 15 minutes. Strain and use the pulpy moistened plantain for your poultice, and drink the tea to neutralize any internal reactions and speed up the healing from within. This is my trusted source of dried plantain.
Epson Salt Soaks
I added 1 pound of Epson salt to a tub filled with water as hot as I could stand it. By tub filled, I mean fill halfway. I plopped in there upon waking and before bed. Not only does this detox the entire body through the sweat you will be releasing but it also goes right to the bite area, helping to release the venom. I also found that it was pretty soothing to the area. It stops itching for sure. It also gets magnesium into your system which helps restore electrolytes. As you will learn in a moment, this was important in my case. This is the ONLY brand I will ever use.
Betonite Clay (interally)
I was already taking clay internally and that is probably what helped me deal with this spider bite so well initially. I already had something in my system soaking up the venom from within. That’s what bentonite clay does. Soaks up toxins of all kinds.
Word of warning – never take clay internally near other medications. It soaks up EVERYTHING. So take it two hours before or after medication or supplements.
Anyway – I upped my clay to 1 tablespoon four times per day. I never did feel super ill from the bite (although I was sick with something else) so I would like to believe the clay worked. I reached for this bottle, my favorite since it is premixed.
My love affair with Morrocco Method goes beyond their hair-care products. While their Zen Detox is technically made for your hair and scalp, it actually was a key player in my nighttime spider bite arsenal. I knew it was a powerful super-hero for its ability to pull arsenic, aluminum, lead, mercury, copper, cadmium, nickel, tin, formaldehyde, industrial chemicals, radiation, residuals from a variety of household and commercial chemicals, pesticides/insecticides, pollutants, herbicides, and more out of your hair and scalp so naturally it can handle a little spider venom right?.
Zen detox is primarily a mixture of Kaolin and Montmorillonite clays, both of which are highly adsorbent — they draw out toxins from the skin like a magnet. I figured this would work best at night while I was sleeping and so right before bed, I slathered a bunch on the area, covered it up, and let it handle its business. When I woke up, my skin felt tight and a bit dehydrated which was actually a good thing! This meant that the Zen detox was pulling the bad stuff from the spider bite out. Learn more about Zen Detox here.
Castor Oil Packs
I have used castor oil packs to draw out all kinds of things. They works VERY well on boils, cysts, and abscesses. However, I personally had less luck with them for this particular situation. However, I did put one on after my morning soak and I left it on for about an hour. I followed it up with the activated charcoal mixture.
To make a castor oil pack, just get some gauze, soak it in castor oil, apply it to the area, cover it with a couple more pieces of gauze, and tape it securely. This will leak so it is best to not move around a whole lot. You can also wrap the area with plastic wrap to keep the leaks in. This is the brand I keep on hand.
I drank gallons of coconut water for several days. I was incredibly dehydrated which I later determined was my body’s way of trying to move the venom out of my system. What better way than through urine, sweet, and other body fluids? I literally could not drink enough. My lips were cracked, my throat parched. But at least I knew my body was doing what it was supposed to go. The reason I choose coconut water was because of its ability to rehydrate quickly and restore electrolytes. I talk more about this in my Dehydration Aid post.
Red Clover Tea
In addition to coconut water, I consumed lots of STRONG red clover tea. And by strong, I mean 1/3 of a mason jar filled with red clover covered in hot water for 8 hours. I drank 2 quarts per day. I get this brand of dried red clover.
Between the various poultices, packs, and soaks, I made sure to gently wipe the bite area with warm water to remove any lingering material from the previous application. I’m sure it wouldn’t have mattered if a little plantain mingled with the charcoal but I felt that it was best to let them do their work without interference or competition from another healing agent.
Have you ever dealt with a poisonous spider bite? How did you treat it?
Special Note – I wrote this spider bite post before Moldageddon happened so I am referencing the house we walked away from in this post. Just making sure that was clear.