Must Haves For An Herbal First Aid Kit
by Purple Herbal
Herbs have been used for thousands of years to help heal cuts, bruises, scrapes, insect stings, upset stomachs, sore throats and almost any other kind of ailment you can think of. The benefit of using natural and herbal products, over regular drug store bought ones, is that herbal products typically do not contain artificial ingredients or chemicals that could potentially aggravate certain injuries requiring first aid.
Besides, our skin absorbs whatever is put onto it. If you wouldn’t put it into your mouth, why would you put it on your skin?
When shopping for your herbal first aid kit, please be sure to check the label of the herbal product to make sure that it does not contain any artificial/chemically based ingredients. If you’re buying something from a natural foods store, the chances are good that you won’t have to worry about this. However, if you’re buying an herbal product from a drug or grocery store, carefully check the label to make sure you’re not being misled into thinking it’s a natural product, when the reality is it’s really full of chemicals.
In addition to the standard bandages, gauze, rubbing alcohol and medical tape here are the must haves for your herbal first aid kit:
Aloe vera gel. Aloe gel is one of the best skin healers and is gentle and safe enough for any skin type or condition. When the gel dries, it creates a protective antibacterial barrier between the cut, scrape, or burn and the air. You can find 100% natural aloe vera gel in fine grocery stores or health food stores. 100% gel is not the same thing as 100% aloe vera gel. Product labeling can be deceiving sometimes. Always check the ingredient list to make sure you know what you are buying.
Arnica gel or cream. Arnica is found natively in Switzerland. Mountain climbers of the past noticed that when they chewed this flower, their muscle fatigue was reduced. Indeed, arnica is a great treatment for any kind of bruising or muscle trauma. Arnica gel and cream should not be used on broken skin. Anytime something happens where you know you’re going to have a nasty bruise will benefit from arnica gel. I personally bruise quite easily, and always put arnica gel on my skin to lessen the severity and the amount of time I have a bruise. Works like a charm.
Arnica (homeopathic). I always have homeopathic arnica on hand (in my purse, medicine cabinet, travel bag) because you never know when some unexpected fall or injury will occur to you or someone you are with. Whether it’s banging your fingers in the car door, getting a bee sing, or your child falls at the playground, taking homeopathic arnica helps the body deal with the initial shock and trauma of such events. I’ve seen my daughter benefit from taking arnica after falling down while running or hitting her head on something. She calms down quicker and the injury itself is lessened.
Calendula/comfrey salve or ointment. Think of this as the herbal equivalent to neosporin. Except there’s no mineral oil or other petroleum based ingredients to worry about. Calendula and comfrey are both plants which are known for their skin healing properties. Use topically only. Comfrey and calendula can heal any skin injury. It can be applied to broken skin. Using calendula and comfrey salve also helps to prevent scarring.
Echinacea extract. Echinacea is known for its ability to improve our immune systems. The root extract or tincture taken daily has been shown to help people maintain better health. They don’t get sick as often and when they do it’s for a lesser period of time. Medical studies have shown that taking echinacea shortens the amount of time one has a cold. It’s good to take echinacea at the first signs of illness for a good dose of immune boosting. Continue to take echinacea as directed until the illness has subsided.
Rescue Remedy. This is something I carry with me everywhere in my purse. It’s helpful for situations that are stressful or get you nervous. Whether if it’s because you’ve just had a car accident or are extremely nervous before a job interview, rescue remedy can be taken before or during these events to help calm the nerves. The formula is a combination of different flower essences in homeopathic form. So, it’s safe to take with other medications. There are no side effects when taking this product.
Cayenne capsules . The whole point of a first aid kit is to have things in it that are going be of value in a potentially life threatening situation. Powdered cayenne pepper, contained in capsules or a small baggie, is one of the best things to put on a wound that won’t stop bleeding. Cayenne pepper powder opened onto a wound will help stop bleeding when nothing else will. Yes, it will burn for a little bit, but the pain is worth it in order to stop a potentially life threatening situation.
Ginger capsules or crystallized ginger. This well known anti-nausea herb is most beneficial for any kind of motion sickness or nausea. It’s peppery and spicy flavor denote the great stimulant properties it has on the circulation system. Grate ginger into boiling water to make a tea if you have the chills or the beginnings of a cold, as it will also help boost your body immune system.
Lavender oil. A great standby for almost any kind of ailment. Lavender oil can be applied directly undiluted to the skin and broken skin. It works as an antibacterial, viral, and fungal agent. Mixed into a carrier oil, like almond or olive oil, or put in a spray bottle mixed with water and sprayed into the air, lavender’s aroma-therapeutic qualities help to relax and calm the mind in stressful situations. A drop or two on the temples helps relieve headaches. A few drops mixed in bath water help clear the mind and sinuses when there is chest congestion.
Eucalyptus oil. The menthol in the eucalyptus makes this essential oil a must have for any kind of chest or sinus congestion. A few drops in the bath or a steam bowl help open the sinuses and induce easier breathing. Do not place eucalyptus oil directly on skin without diluting it first.
Tea tree oil. Just as versatile as lavender oil, tea tree oil can also be applied directly onto the skin. It works great as an antibacterial, fungal, and viral agent. So, it’s useful to put on skin injuries. It can also be mixed with some water and rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle to help disinfect household surfaces.
Jewelweed for poison oak or ivy. If you like to go camping or hiking, this is a must have in your travel first aid kit. Jewelweed has an amazing ability to reduce itching and clear up the rash of both poison oak and poison ivy very quickly. It used to be hard to find, but is now widely available at fine grocery and health food stores. I’ve mostly seen this in soap form.
Elderberry. Another great immune boosting herb. The berries made into a syrup are a most excellent cough and cold syrup. It helps clear infections quickly, and it tastes great. The deep purple color shows the high antioxidant properties of elder berries. They help deal with any kind of immune disorder.
Witch Hazel. Distilled from the bark of the tree of the same name, witch hazel is a great first aid skin tonic because it’s versatile, inexpensive, and easy to find. It easily cleans away bacteria and dirt on freshly broken skin. It also works to soothe sunburns and burns. The texture of skin is improved, making scar tissue less likely to form. It’s a must have for your first aid kit.
Chamomille tea bags. These work well if someone has a rash or inflammation of the skin. Wetting a chamomille tea bag releases the volatile oils in the chamomille that work to reduce inflammation and heal the skin. The tea bag could also be made into actual tea to help with nausea.
Peppermint tea bags. Make peppermint tea at the first sign of a cold/flu and to help ease headaches or nausea. The oils in peppermint help stimulate the circulation and the immune system. Peppermint easy to grow in your garden or in a container inside in full sun. Fresh mint is fantastic!
Clay. I recommend Redmond clay, because you can eat it to treat stomach disorders, as well as to treat skin injuries. Clay is a great thing to have if someone has a deep wound that has shards of glass, embedded dirt, stones, or other foreign objects in it. This kind of wound could potentially get seriously infected, so it needs constant attention. Apply the clay as a poultice, covered in plastic wrap, so that it can work constantly at drawing out the impurities and healing the wound. Do not let the clay dry before rinsing off. Have some clay premixed in an air tight container, so it is easily accessible.