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Naturally Treating Brown Recluse Spider Bites

Written by Print 

Brown recluse spiders migrate into homes in the autumn, where warmer climates may be found. These spiders reside in places with regular human movement, but they are not usually aggressive. They are known to bite when they feel threatened or trapped. Bites often occur when a spider is trapped between a piece of clothing and the human body. It is believed that they enjoy human dwellings because their nocturnal lifestyle benefits from artificial light.

Brown recluse venom contains at least 9 distinct poisons; making it similar to rattlesnake venom. It effects blood vessels in the bite area to potentially cause massive tissue destruction. The result can be horrific. A bite that is left untreated may require an amputation of the limb, and it can lead to death. The bites cause kidney failure in some people.

Avoiding Brown Recluse Bites

Since bites often occur whilst people are sleeping, it is not always possible to avoid them. We recommend that bedding be fully checked before going to sleep, and that clothing be violently shaken before it is worn. These little devils love the insides of shoes, so beat your shoes together, and inspect the insides of them before wearing them. Keep all dresser drawers tightly closed, because they will hide in the underwear too. We normally recommend against the use of chemicals (especially poisons), but it is wise to spray a long-lasting insecticide around windows and doors in the autumn. Please take all precautions, including wearing splash-resistant goggles, and a respirator, if you do.

How To Know If You Have Been Bitten

A brown recluse victim is not always aware that he has been bitten; at least not immediately, when treatments would be the most beneficial. Sometimes the bites immediately cause extreme pain, but in other cases, there is no sensation at all. There may be visible fang pits at the bite site, but this is not always true either. Sometimes there is itching at the bite site, or a generalized fever. The general rule is that there are no general rules for brown recluse spider bites in the early stage. Some victims do not realize that they have been bitten until several days have passed.

Between one and three days after being bitten, an untreated brown recluse spider bite is likely to form one or more blisters. The bite site may become bluish colored at this time, and it may begin forming a crater.

Seeking Emergency Medical Care

A brown recluse spider bite could easily be considered an emergency condition, so a hospital visit may be essential to ensure that the victim is stabilized. Be forewarned that there is very little that orthodox medicine can do to stop the regional damage that is caused by a bite. Doctors typically give antibiotics and anti-histamines in the hope that regionalized damage can be somewhat minimized. These are truly desperate measures that yield very little success. Therefore, we recommend that you follow our alternative treatment recommendations.

Self Treatment - Stage 1

If you have been bitten by this spider (or any other spider), the first thing that you should do is apply activated charcoal directly to the wound. This is something that should always be kept in the medicine cabinet for poison emergencies. You can find it inside capsules sold at health food stores, or you can buy it in the aquarium department of a grocery store. Either way, the charcoal must be finely ground before it is used. Apply a thick paste to the bite area that is made from the fine charcoal powder and water. Tape the charcoal and water mixture to the bite, and leave for four hours. Using it again, or for longer periods is unlikely to help.

We also recommend orally consuming a teaspoon of dampened charcoal powder, in order to get a tiny amount of charcoal into the blood. Please read the article about activated charcoal usage, or proceed at your own risk. It is best to have it made ahead of time in preparation for any poison emergency, and the sooner that it is used, the better.

Take massive amounts of echinacea supplements until the bite wound completely disappears. Echinacea was used by the American Indians to heal snake bites, which is believed to be where the term "snake oil" originated. Some reports indicate that echinacea is very effective for treating venomous spider bites.

Six days after a brown recluse bite. Click to enlarge.

Self Treatment - Stage 2

After the first few hours, charcoal will no longer be useful. Purchase bentonite clay powder from a health food store, and mix it with enough water to form a paste. Apply this paste onto the wound, and cover it with medical tape. Use colloidal silver instead of water if it is available. This paste should be left on the skin for at least two hours, several times a day. The skin should be washed before the clay is applied to remove any oils. A mild hand soap should be adequate. Avoid moisturizing soaps and lotions.

Topical bentonite clay has yielded some amazing results for victims of brown recluse bites. Internal use of bentonite clay is not advised. For best results, mix a small amount of echinacea with the bentonite clay powder. The clay will typically remain useful for about a week, but every bite will be different. Continue for a couple of weeks.

Brown recluse spider bites usually take 6-8 weeks to heal, but this treatment method should speed the process dramatically, and reduce suffering in the meantime. Hopefully it will help victims eliminate, or at least reduce the crater scars that these spiders have become infamous for causing.

Be Prepared

You may not be able to get bentonite clay from local retailers, so every family that has a possibility of being bitten by brown recluse spiders should purchase it as soon as possible, and keep it ready in storage. Once bitten, a person may not be able to obtain it from online sources in time to be useful. Seriously, order it now, along with the activated carbon.


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Comments (54)
  • Mark Schaft

    Or.. you can move to a habitable region. :lol:

  • Anonymous

    That was not funny. My son died of Brown Recluse bite. We didnt have the money to move up north so we were forced to live in this animal invested south. The most dangerous animals are in the country,i didnt appreciate the remark

  • Sarah C. Corriher (H.W. Researcher)

    I'm sorry to hear about your son. I'm sure that Mark didn't mean any offense, but he's from England and thus probably didn't know that they can be deadly.

  • anonymous 2

    I live pretty far north. Northern Indiana to be exact near Michigan sate line.We have them here too. Ex was bitten by one. He ended up being ok becase he caught it in time. I did meet a man that had his leg amputated though and there was a little girl not far from here that died from a brown recluse bite. Not to mention I just found one in my house this morning. Sorry to here about your son. I can't even begin to imagine how you must feel.

  • C. Thomas Corriher (Managing Editor)

    You mean like that little island that's part of France? You know.... the one where if the sun comes out (like it does once every 14 years) people start screaming "it's the end"!

  • Mark Schaft

    It's better than being owned by China. ;) Also, our homes don't collapse for 50mph "hurricanes". Someday, I'll get into your site and change your banner to a big crown.

  • bil

    i had great success with gnc activated charcoal capsules, opened up, made into a paste, saran-wrapped over bite sites. made a useless visit to baytown tx san jacinto methodist hospital, gave them a bunch of $ for a shot and prescription clindamycin? and no help. but the charcoal knocked the soreness and swelling out in about 48 hours.

  • RKeane

    I was bitten by a brown recluse and did the following:
    Go the a local health food store and purchase a high dose echinacea and buy a large bottle. I then took 4 pills right away and 2 pills every hour. I also did ice/heat therapy - every hour - heat for 3 min., cold for 3, heat for 3, cold for 3, heat for 3, and cold for 10 min.
    My brown bite was 5 inch diameter on Friday and was totally gone by the following tuesday. I have told many friends and they have also had great results. My suggestion is to find a naturalpath doctor and seek treatment. The gross pictures that I see on the internet and sadly even worse situations do not need to happen. The echinacea is the trick.

  • Lynn D.

    I have never been bitten by a recluse but I did live in house for 3 years that was literally infested with the things....(ick). I got pest control people to spray but it didn't do anything but flush some of them out of their hiding spots and reduce my checking account considerably. After enduring this situation for 2 years I finally went to Walmart and bought about 2 dozen of the cheap glue pads made to catch mice and placed one or two under every piece of furniture, beds, sinks, etc. and you would not BELIEVE how many spiders I caught! Evidently they love to crawl around underneath furniture, sinks and in attics. After about two weeks some of the pads were completely covered with the things and some of them had obviously dropped from the ceiling and landed in the center of the pads with their legs perfectly spread around them because there was no way they could have crawled to the center of these highly sticky pads! (Yuck) We were fortunate enough to sell this house after 3 years and by the time we packed up to move, I only found one spider in a shoe up in the attic after going through everything with a fine tooth comb, so the glue pads help reduce their populations enormously and they are CHEAP! Also the above advice is all excellent, about shaking your clothes before wearing them and checking your shoes. Also, Bentonite clay is wonderful. I haven't cured a spider bite with it but my pet iguana got dry gangrene on his tail and it was literally eating it's way up the length of his tail, killing the flesh as it went. I amputated the diseased end of his tail (about 2 inches) and made a paste of bentonite clay and water and used surgical tape and first aid bandages to attach it to the wound and after one week, his tail was in the healing process! If I had taken him to a vet, it would have cost at least $400 and they would have given him antibiotics that would have taken months to work. Bentonite clay is great stuff. And the activated charcoal is good too but you become immune to it's effects after a few day. Hope the info about the glue pads helps someone, somewhere with recluses! I know how awful it is to live with those creepy things!

  • Katrina

    So wait... do these things live in the Chicago area?

  • Luke  - nitroglycerin patch

    "Burton[61] described his 10 years of experience with applying nitroglycerin patches to the bite site area. His experiences indicate that necrosis and ulceration can be aborted if the nitroglycerin patch is applied within 48 hours of the time the patient was bitten. He promoted the use of a 0.1-mg/h patch and speculated that the nitroglycerin patches prevented necrosis through reversal of blood vessel spasm."

  • C. Thomas Corriher (Managing Editor)

    That's fascinating. I searched using the suggestions above and found:

    "METHODS: Over a 5-year period, family physicians enrolled consecutive patients with suspected brown recluse spider bites. Usual care was provided based on physician preferences. Topical nitroglycerine patches and vitamin C tablets were provided at no cost for those who wished to use them. Baseline data were collected, and patients were followed-up weekly until healing occurred. Outcome measures included time to healing and occurrence of scarring. Regression methods were used to evaluate the impact of the 4 main treatment approaches (corticosteroids, dapsone, topical nitroglycerine, and high-dose vitamin C) after controlling for bite severity and other predictors.

    "RESULTS: Two hundred and sixty-two patients were enrolled; outcomes were available for 189. The median healing time was 17 days. Only 21% had permanent scarring. One hundred seventy-four received a single treatment modality. Among this group, 12 different modalities were used. After controlling for other variables, predictors of more rapid healing included lower severity level, less erythema, and less necrosis at time of presentation, younger age, no diabetes, and earlier medical attention. Systemic corticosteroids and dapsone were associated with slower healing. Predictors of scarring were higher severity, presence of necrosis, and diabetes. Dapsone was associated with an increased probability of scarring."

    The source was:

    Management of brown recluse spider bites in primary care. Mold JW, Thompson DM. Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, USA

    Despite these findings, they somehow still managed to conclude that the alternative therapies were useless, which is how the "science" generally works nowadays -- if they wish to keep their grants.

    "We found no evidence that commonly used treatment approaches reduced healing time or the likelihood of scarring in suspected brown recluse spider bites."

    Incredible, isn't it? This is definitely worth more attention, and study.

  • Anonymous

    do the brown recluses live in sc? meaning south carolina?

  • Carrie  - struggling in SC

    Yes! We live in upstate SC and my husband & I have been bitten so many times in our sleep since April that I have lost count. The bites are so typical brown recluse that we are certain that is what they are. But we are sooo frustrated that we cannot find any in our room. We have seen them alive outside, but we've sprayed our room, used the glue traps, searched everywhere & nothing to be found inside. The only thing that seems to ward them off at night is to drench our bed in peppermint spray before we get into it. Yuck but worth it.

  • Anonymous

    My brother was bite by a brown recluse spider on the lower leg. The tissue around the skin started to get eaten away and was about the size of a quarter, with a larger red area around that. The veins in his leg were turning purple. It looked like a turn for the worst. We made a paste of activated charcoal and Dr. Shulze's Intestinal Formula Number 2 (which has bentonite clay in it) and lathered it on his leg. Then we wrapped his leg with plastic food wrap to keep it in place. The pain went away and he even went to soccer practice. It took a little over a week, but by changing the paste every eight hrs or so the leg healed. He doesn't even have a scar!

  • Carnivalmouse  - brown recluse bites

    OUCH! i have been bitten by these nasty spiders 3 times in the past 4 years! The first bite nearly killed me...,Dr. said I was about 8 hours away from death! And this occured while under a specialists care! The second time I was bitten, I didn't realize it untill the next day! and I went to the ER, the dr. drew a circle around the red area and said if the reddness grows past the line she drew on me then I needed to immediatly return to the ER. Well about 2-3 hours after I returned home the reddness was passing the line she drew, I was reading up on snake and spider bites from various online sources when it occured to me that snake bites can do simular things to someone as spider bites do; they have kits that are very affective for snake bites, these kits have a pump that sucks out a great deal of the poison, right! Why don't we do anything like this for spider bites? I got a crazy idea to attempt my own spider bite to speak! I got a clean hand towl, pillow case, and I layered several layers of toilet paper,(paper towels or kleenex will work also), then I got my husband to assist me....I got our canister vacume cleaner out and put the pillow case over the end of the nozzel, I layered the tissue paper over the site of the bite and to keep it there I layed the (thin)handtowel over it, held it in place while my husband turned on the vacume and placed the nozzel directly over the center of the site of the bite. We kept it on for about 5 min then checked the tissue HAD ACCUMULATED A DECENT SIZED SPOT OF YELLOWISH AND LIGHT GREENISH PUSSY TYPE FLUID! We then put clean tissue over the bite area and repeated these actions. Same thing ...we kept it up untill the tissue remained clear of fluid and dry. We noticed immediatly that the reddness and dark spot had lightened and shrunk. We repeated this several times a day untill the area was nearly normal in appearance. I kept the area clean and covered, and also applied bactine to the bite several times a day. AMAZINGLY...THIS ACTUALLY WORKED BETTER THAN ANYTHING I HAVE EVER SEEN WHEN IT COMES TO A POISIONOUS SPIDER BITE! Believe it or not...there are many people here in NM who are bitten by these spiders all year long! I have seen some really horrible things because of the amount of tissue damage their poision can cause quickly and eaisily! The last time I was bitten, I realized immediatily...I saw it happen! So It was eaisily taken care of and healed within 3-4 days. I have to admit it was a strange sensation using a vacume cleaner to pull out the infection and poison...I felt it movig literally moving thru my body tissue towards the area that the vacume was pulling on my skin; the site of the puncture from the bite! Also an interesting fact that is good to know about ALL SPIDERS....insectisides do not have much, if any, of an affect on spiders! Using them lessons the food abundance the spiders eat, and this can lesson the amount of spiders around your home. What I have found actually makes them run out of the home is a mix of lemon oil and water. Spiders taste buds are on their feet, (simple description of a more complicated explanitation). Spiders despise lemon oil so much that if you manage to actually spray one with it you will see a spider trying to escape whithout touching the area sprayed with the lemon sorta looks like a cat walking with tape on its paws crossed by forest animals running from a rapidly approaching fire! The mixture will last about 2 weeks and then you'll need to spray again. Be sure to spray a perimiter aroun your house, baseboards, closets, trim, and any areas prone to hide a reclusive arachnid! (I sray my bedding, mattresses and around my bed also! 1 of the 3 times I was bit was in my sleep!) I no longer have to many spider sightings nor do I see evidence of their exsistance since I began using the lemon oil and water mixture!

  • joe  - atomizer

    That's interesting. I sometimes use an atomizer to spray lemon essential oil in my room bec I like the smell, how it purifies things, and bec it has even been shown to improve mental functioning. Spraying lemon oil with an atomizer would be perfect for getting b.r. out of the house.

  • Anonymous  - niki

    wow i live in scotland and had heard of these spiders. I remember the lessons at school about it clearly as my friend had a pet tarantula at the time so this fascinated us. It was made clear that the bites left sores and no antibody existed however we were lead to believe they were rarely fatal??

    I was also lead to believe they were a lot larger.

    Guess the lecturer didn't feel the need to educate us properly since we dont have them here!!

  • Random  - there up north

    these spiders are up north but nobody ever gets bit. just dont be stupid and try to catch one with ur hands

  • Margaret Campbell  - nasty spiders is an understatement

    We have been trying to no avail for the last 4 days to get some help my 3.5 yr old has been bit, the doctors here did not believe me and kept telling me to wait and see because these bites are very rare. Her arm has erupted in several spots, I don't know if the clay I have is the right stuff it is Grey Clay by A.Vogel, I put in on last night and again this morning, Hosp Staff are starting to believe me and have now put her on an Antibiotic. The Clay seems to be receding the inflamed. A staff member at the hosp told me to check out your site. Can anyone tell me if I have the right clay and where do I get my hands on the other stuff?Or what should I be asking for exactly?
    Thank-you for anyone that can help.
    P.S. Please excuse the grammar and probably the spelling to I am a very distressed Mom.

  • Margaret Campbell  - Brown Recluse Bite

    Thank-you to all who are responsible for these posts and remedies it looks like we have been able to get this under control, we did not have the Benoite clay until yesterday but in 2 applications it has made a huge difference, I cannot express enough how much this site has meant to me. We used grey clay to start and it did help but not to the extent of the Benoite. It scares me to think what we as a people would do if those in power take these types of holistic sites and eye opening information away from us.

  • C. Thomas Corriher (Managing Editor)

    It always warms our hearts to read reports of our research having saved someone. This is especially true for the case of children. The long chain of events that led to you gaining information about how to save your child from severe permanent scarring probably originated from God's grace upon us, so take time to give a thankful toast to him over a meal emphasizing his life-giving bounty.

    I can't help but snicker over the fact that The Health Wyze Report is now officially doctor recommended! Of course, doctors and nurses have never been our enemies. They are merely slaves to the broken and corrupt system, and they must use only the tools that they are allowed to use, regardless of the consequences. Although, some of them are quite brainwashed. On the other hand, we are deeply hated by the pharmaceutical industry, and this includes pharmacists (chemists).

  • Anonymous

    these things drive me up the wall, finding them at work and in my house all the time. something that helps reduce their numbers is FREQUENT cleaning. if u find one the size of a penny or so, then they have been there for awhile. They do move at night, and sleep during the day. I have heard the Citrus smells drives them away, so i put a scent spray thing in my bedroom and havnt had an issue with them since but i have been keeping the house cleaner so one of the twos got to be working. I did find one bite my knee, it swelled up, redness growing. so i drew lines on myself to watch the progression. It blistered up similar to a pimple, so i popped it which in turn seemed to be my body naturally rejecting the venom cause it pussed out, and i cleaned out the hole really well and next day swelling all gone, just a small black/purple spot no bigger then a pen mark, is all that remains. and today as i was cleaning i found a corner that one had set up home and i quickly captured it in a vile, nasty little bugger, hes been attacking the glass so much that his venom is pooling in the bottom of the vile. any ideas what to do with it? other then just kill it, like is it worth sending to someone so they can study or just kill it off, with the good ol fashion flush :)

  • Sarah C. Corriher (H.W. Researcher)

    Just kill it. There are far too many of these insects already, and labs will often just breed their own. Do be careful when killing him not to get bitten yourself.

  • Duane Gregory  - Found a brown recluse in Santa Clara California!

    My Wife found a brown recluse in our kids room in between the two window panes that slide. I thought that I have seen a recluse before and have taken pictures, but found out that they were not. This time after comparing the picture and ones online, it was the real deal! Thank the Lord, I chased it out then squished it.
    So yes, they are in Northern California.

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