This article was part of this month’s Natural Healing Newsletter. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
HERBAL FIRST AID: WHAT TO HAVE ON HAND FOR MINOR EMERGENCIES
By Terry Cochran, Atlanta Natural Health Examiner
I just returned from visiting my 80-year-old mother. She had tripped on a curb and banged herself up. After making sure that she had not broken anything, only herbal first aid was needed. Therefore, I am reminded that maybe not everyone would know what natural items work fine for small emergencies. A little herbal first aid goes a long way for minor cuts, scrapes, bruises, insect bites, etc.
What should you have on hand? First and foremost, calendula cream, lotion or salve. I used an infusion of calendula in olive oil for scrapes and kept the injuries moistened (do not forget, an ice pack will go far to reduce swelling). Calendula is made from the pot marigold. This unseemly little flower is outstanding for healing skin. It acts as a bacterial antiseptic and astringent. Cleanse a wound thoroughly before applying calendula; it heals a cut on the surface of the skin rather quickly! Never take it internally. Salves containing comfrey root and calendula are best.
Comfrey root contains a plant chemical called allantoin. This remarkable chemical becomes a mucilage when the root is boiled and can be used as a coating to heal skin. It heals skin rapidly, so make sure cuts are well cleaned to avoid sealing in an infection.
Arnica is wonderful for bruises. It’s a flower often infused in oil or liniment. Never use it on abraded or cut skin, but applying arnica cream, lotion or salve to bruises will help them to disburse without clots. For sprains, simply infuse a bandage in arnica and wrap! Do not take this herb internally.
Aloe Vera is well known for use on burns. Keep a plant around the house and aloe gel in your items for travel. It is fine for use on sunburns, daily moisturizing, and cuts/scrapes. Dried aloe powder is used as a laxative and helps the liver.
Ipecac is a natural remedy used for the past few centuries for food poisoning. Syrup of ipecac is all-natural. Just a teaspoon of it will work within 10-20 minutes. It is emetic, which means it will cause vomiting, but will purge the poisons. Never use it for caustic poisoning, because that could damage the esophagus.
Ginger is amazing for nausea. Have ginger powder, crystallized ginger, ginger candy, or even ginger ale on hand for queasy tummies. It tastes spicy and sweet all together, so you will have few complaints! If your patient does not like ginger, try cinnamon.
Poison ivy is the number one problem I hear about each summer. The simple calamine lotion is natural and effective. So is bathing in oatmeal and powdered milk! For your first aid kit, carry jewelweed soap. Jewelweed, or “Touch-me-Not”, a weed common in the south, has a juice in its stem that soothes poison ivy! Soap made with jewelweed can be ordered online and is a “must-have” for every outdoor trip. If you gather it in the wild, remember that poison ivy and jewelweed are companion plants. That means they often grow near each other!
Bites from insects or snakes are often a problem. Even non-poisonous snakebites can become inflamed quickly. Tincture of Echinacea should be a part of your first aid kit. Just a teaspoon of it every two hours after the bite, even for venomous bites on extremities (arms/legs). It can buy you precious time while you seek medical attention.
So many other herbs are great for a complete first aid kit. These are the most recommended. Take the time to research natural products available for your first aid kit. Books and information on the subject can be found primarily through the American Botanical Council.