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Brown Recluse Spider Bite Recovery

BACKGROUND: In March, 2003, I visited my parents in Lincoln, Arkansas. It was a family reunion, all of the bedrooms were full, so I slept in the living room. The house is primarily heated by a single wood stove in that room, making it much hotter than the bedrooms. I slept on the floor right in front of the door to escape the heat. Wood was brought into a box next to the stove from outside stacks that had sat uncovered for 1 or 2 years. This appears to be an ideal way to get a brown recluse bite. It was likely brought in from the wood pile, got hot near the stove, and moved in the direction of the cool air from under the door. It may have enjoyed the “cover” of my beard, but then may have been trapped between my cheek and the floor. Doing what spiders do, it gave me a powerful bite to wake me up.

THE BITE: I did not actually see the spider, but became convinced it was a brown recluse from the many descriptions I read on many websites. I do remember waking up in the night with an extremely mild tingling sensation in my nose and an apparent loss of feeling there. I thought it very odd, but was so tired that I just moved to another position and went back to sleep.

THE SWELL: When I woke up in the morning, there was a very small dot in roughly the middle of my left cheek—probably the sight of the bite. My left cheek had begun to swell slightly. The tingling and lack of feeling was gone. I guessed that some common spider or insect had bitten me in the night and I continued with the day's plans—manual work outside and visiting the relatives. I am the sort of person that realizes many ailments get better on their own, so I often do not take any action when something hurts a little, but seems in no immediate danger.

Brown Recluse Sites and Articles
Ohio State University Fact Sheet on Brown Recluse Spider Necrotic Arachnidism in Australia – Scholarly medical article showing most medical treatment is ineffective. Abstract available free; full article formerly available free before, but now requires a fee. provides an herbal kit to treat a bite with good claims for healing time. Health Wyze Report on Brown Recluse Spider – Some good information, but their healing time was much longer than my experience with tree resin. Brown recluse spider traps – I have no experience with them, but they might be a non-toxic was to eliminate spiders. has many articles by searching on "brown recluse", but you must register first. has many articles by searching on "brown recluse", but you must register first.
Antivenom Research on Other Types of spiders
CSL Antivenom Handbook: Spiders – Short, but helpful to understand antivenom CSL Funnel Web Spider Antivenom CSL Red Back Spider Antivenom
Other Related Sites
Pruitt's Tree Resin – Tree Resin Available from this site. on – Spider Bites general article with pictures Pau De Arco – Herb with helpful anti-swelling properties

GETTING WORSE: As the day went on, the swelling increased and it began to hurt more. The area around my left eye began to swell which caused my left eye to begin to close. When I was a teenager, I had three bee stings on top of my head, and my forehead swelled up about half an inch. This also caused my eyes to partially swell shut. At that time I wondered if this bite were some kind of sting similar to a bee sting. By the end of the day I was convinced that this was something different than I had ever had before. Brown Recluse spiders, as well as hobo spiders and others were mentioned as possibilities—they are known to live in that area of Arkansas. Unfortunately, my parents did not have Internet access in their home. Since I had a flight home the next day, I decided to take my plane as scheduled and seek help back in Michigan where I lived. On the way home, the stewardess mentioned that she had been bitten by a Brown Recluse spider, and that it did seem similar to my experience. She also mentioned the Recurring Bite phenomena, which I was none to thrilled to hear.

On arriving home in Michigan, I began to search the Internet and found many helpful sites, including this one. This picture was taken that day, the second day since the bite.

SYMPTOMS OF BROWN RECLUSE: My Internet reading showed me that my symptoms were very similar to a serious brown recluse bite. The brown recluse venom is a poison that generally affects the area of the bite (not the whole system as with the Black Widow spider). The body tries to contain it, but the venom sometimes breaks out to other areas either right away or later, causing "recurring bites". The venom causes the breakdown of cell wall, resulting in tissue death-necrosis. At the center of the swelling, there was a hard patch of tissue forming that was losing feeling—apparently the part that normally dies. That part is marked in the photo, below:

INEFFECTIVE TREATMENTS: My reading found all kinds of information about ineffective treatments. This was not encouraging as I was worried that I would soon lose my ability to read. I read about numerous antibiotics were used, but they only helped in the few cases where there were infections. Brown Recluse venom is toxic to microbes as well. Antihistamines are typically used to reduce swelling, but are apparently only marginally effective with brown recluse bites. Neither of these drugs stops the tissue death. Several doctors wrote that the medical community needed to do more to develop antivenom, as has been done for some common poisonous snakes. I remember one doctor that was bitten and treated himself with a "drawing salve" from a health-food store. Unfortunately, he did not comment on its effectiveness. I needed to find something relatively fast because my left eye had now swollen so much I could barely see out of it and my right cheek was beginning to swell also. I am opening my eyes as much as I can in this photo, the third day since the bite.

CONDITION WORSENS: I continued to drink a lot of water to help flush any "flushable" toxins out of my system and continued to read. I also took some Pau De Arco (Purple Lapacho), an herb that reduces swelling. The next day, the left eye swelling began to go down, but the right eye swelling was getting worse. A hard spot, where tissue death was likely had developed on my right side as well as my left. Both hard spots continued to grow harder. The skin on my cheeks and nose was very red, crusty and painful. This was either late on the third day or early on the fourth day since the bite:

EFFECTIVE TREATMENTS: I asked my church friends to pray about this and one who works as a massage therapist recommended tree resin as a possibility. It is supposed to have drawing properties. She recommended the Pure Natural No. 1 Tree Resin produced and sold by NATR, North American Tree Resins (was She happened to have some that I could use. I looked at NATR's web site and found a testimonial where someone had used it to draw the poison out of a snake bite. I covered my cheeks with the sticky tree resin. To me, it felt like some of the pain went away as soon as I put it on. However, this must be one of the stickiest substances in the world. Whatever touched my cheeks got sticky-sticky enough to get yet other things sticky, and on and on. I had known for some time that charcoal was a good absorber of numerous chemicals, and that powders tend to unstickify things. So, I liberally sprinkled the resin with powdered food-grade charcoal (available in capsules from any health-food store) until it was no longer sticky. I was pleased to find that I could even sleep without sticking to the pillow or sheets.

NATR apparently no longer operates, but their website and old phone number now goes to Pruitt's Tree Resin, 800-422-4716, 573-226-3039,

This picture is a little blurry, but it shows the tree resin and charcoal, as well as still partly swollen eyes. This is day four or five since the bite.

VERY SUCCESSFUL TREATMENT: I was pleased to find that much of the pain went away and the swelling continued to go down, though it was several days before my eyes would open all the way again. I thought I would have to reapply the treatment after a shower, but as it turned out, running water had little effect on it. It actually required quite a bit of scrubbing to get it off. I reapplied new tree resin and charcoal only when the old largely wore off. The hard spots on my cheeks were beginning to soften again and normal feeling was returning to them. I left the tree resin and charcoal on those spots for several days longer than the rest. I think this is the eighth or ninth day since the bite. There is still some swelling, but this is my normal amount of eye opening with no effort to make them go further. The right side of my face is still worse than my left.

RECURRING BITES: After a few more days, my face returned to normal and I stopped applying the resin and charcoal. However, over several months, I had two recurring bites. One was on the inside part of my upper arms; the other was on my thighs. The skin began to swell, look and feel just like it had on my face after the original bite. By that time, I had my own supply of NATR's tree resin and plenty of charcoal (one capsule is more than enough for one application). I was able to apply it right away and pain and hard tissue areas were greatly minimized. These recurring bites were gone in about 4 days. I believe I have some pictures of the recurring bites-I will post them if I find them. Just to show that I completely recovered, here is a picture taken over a year later:

SORRY FOR THE DELAY: During this process, I did pray to God, the Creator of all things, for healing. I believe that God does sometimes heal in ways that are miraculous-appear to have no physical explanation. At other times, I think He wants us to use our own minds to do what we can to help ourselves and others. I think this was one of those times. I am sorry that it took over 10 years to post this on the web site, but the pictures had been misplaced until now. I have no way of knowing if this will work for everyone, but it probably will work for some people. It was certainly an inexpensive, quicker than most, and minimal in discomfort.

May God help you to find a spiritual and physical solution to whatever presently afflicts you and your loved ones!