Date: March 2009
From: Wendy Everett
Location: Far North Queensland, Australia
We have a large block of land of 36 acres and our driveway is 300 mtrs long, after the recent downpour this wet season it washed a lot of our driveway away, so my husband started to clear the road and the sides along the road. Both my Husband and I know there are 'stinging trees' along that particular strip of bush so He was on the lookout for them. I warned he better wear long pants but he doesn't like them in the heat to work in.
Needless to say a stinging tree bit him (we believe they actually attack people) it was so little it couldn't be seen amongst the shrub. Now if you experience a stinging tree it is unbearable pain for at least a week and thereafter in hot water for a few months, no sleep can be had the first 3 or more nights...anyway he was “got” around the knee and upper leg so we packed that area in thick clay and wrapped it in plastic and left it on overnight. There was some discomfort overnight but nothing like would have normally been felt.
In the morning we washed it off and did another clay poultice the same for the day time and by that night it could not be felt. One more poultice for that night and on awakening the next morning it was completely gone bar some itching a little.
He was amazed as he has been “got” by these trees before and has suffered for days and weeks. He is now a Clay Disciple.
Thank you so much for everything.
- Wendy Everett, March 2009
Australian Stinging Trees & Shrubs: Dendrocnides
Stinging Trees Fruit
Many indigenous animals may eat the fruit
without experiencing discomfort
Stinging Nettle Hairs / Needles
Nettle Hairs - Made from Silica
Tiny silica hairs cover the fruit, stems, and leaves of the various species of stinging trees and shrubs located in the rain forests of Southeast Queensland, Australia. Upon contact, the tips of these tiny tubes break off, and a bulb located at the base of the nettle releases neurotoxins, literally pumping them into the skin. Acetylcholine, Histamine, and Serotonin (5-Hydroxytriptamine) are known components of the neurotoxins.
While there have been reports of death being caused by stinging trees, only one human fatality has been confirmed. The neurotoxin is known to effect humans, horses and dogs, which are not indigenous to Australia.
How bad is the sting itself?
There is one report of a military officer actually shooting himself to try to end the pain. Another individual needed to be restrained in bed for three weeks.
The silicon hairs are so tiny that, once the hairs are embedded in the body, the skin can quickly close over them.
How can clay help?
It is likely that the clay can directly draw out the nuerotoxins at the injection site. Furthermore, due to an unknown mechanism, clay can also help to actually prevent or reduce the metabolic response at the location ( inlcuding actions such as pain and swelling ). Furthermore, the clay will act to open up the skin around the needles, and assist in the easy and painless extraction of the tiny hairs.
Did You Know...?
"What is the evolutionary significance of plant toxins and animal anti-toxin behaviour? From a plant's evolutionary perspective, a seed should be high in nutrients to support germination and seedling growth; the ripe fruit around the seed should also be nutrient-rich and attractive to animals, encouraging them to pluck and eat the fruit and disperse the seed. On the other hand, the seed itself should be repulsive to animal consumers, inducing them to regurgitate or defaecate it, and the unripe fruit should be repulsive, lest animals harvest it before the seed is viable. From an animal's evolutionary perspective, an ability to defeat the plant's toxin defences would enable it to obtain the nutrients in the seed as well as those in the ripe fruit, and to outcompete other animal consumers by harvesting the fruit while it is unripe and still unpalatable to them.
"Any textbook of animal biology describes the resulting evolutionary arms race, in which plants evolve increasingly potent toxins (such as strychnine and quinine), and animals evolve increasingly potent means of detoxification. While enzymatic detoxification has previously received the most attention, the work of Gilardi et al.10 and the wide distribution of geophagy among animal herbivores suggest an additional important means of detoxification by adsorption on ingested soil minerals."
- Jared M. Diamond, Department of Physiology, University of California Medical School, Los Angeles
Read more about indigenous habits and instinctual use of edible clay minerals in our bentonite articles section.