Herbal First Aid Kit Essentials
Many people keep a first aid kit handy but if you use medicinal herbs you should think about outfitting your own herbal first aid kit with herbs and natural medicines. By doing so you can have just what you need on hand in any emergency.
Well before the medical mainstream became chemical pills, isolated compounds, or a needle in the arm, men and women used plants to cure illnesses of all kinds. These plants often grew in or around their homes, although some were brought in from far away and traded.
Modern science has isolated the chemicals in many plants and uses them, both natural and man-made, to make single action medications. This can sometimes cause unwanted side effects in certain people. The chemicals that make a plant so desirable in natural healing remedies usually work hand in hand with the other compounds present in the plant.
For those interested in building their own herbal kit, here is a list of common herbs and their uses organized for easy reference.
Cuts and Scratches
Plantain grows wild in yards nearly everywhere. There are two types of plantain- broad leaf and snake-leaf (or narrow). Children can identify the narrow leafed version by the rounded heads that 'pop' from the stem if held just right and pressure applied. To use for cuts and scratches, crush the leaves from either plant and place directly on the wound. The astringent juice from the plant helps kill germs and heal the wound.
Shepherd's Purse is another plant that grows in yards and waste places. You can easily identify the plant bu it's tiny heart shaped 'leaves' growing around the stem. These leaves are actually seed pods. The juice from Shepherd's Purse stops bleeding and is perfect for minor cuts and scrapes. Crush the plant and place directly to the cut or scrape.
Aloe isn't just for burns. The thick gel inside of the aloe plant can sooth cuts and help heal them. Keep one growing in your kitchen.
Cayenne stops bleeding almost immediately.
Aloe is known as the burn plant. Just crack open a leaf and rub the juice from inside the leaves to any burn.
Plantain is useful not only for cuts, but for burns, too. Crush the leaves as in preparing to care for a cut and apply. Wrap in loose gauze to keep in place.
Witch Hazel grows wild in North America and the UK, plus other nearby countries (Germany and more.). It has been used for centuries as an astringent. The bark and leaves can be crushed to release the juices and applied to burns. If wild witch hazel is not available, then use the bottled version found in most drug stores. Health food stores sometimes carry good, organic bottles with no added alcohol.
Lavender is wonderful for insect bites. Brew a strong tea of the flowers and apply to the bite. Lavender is a hardy plant and should be grown in every herb garden.
Echinacea is well known for its' ability to boost the immune system, but wash can also be made from the flowers. Brew the same as for tea, then wash the bite or sting. It helps soothe itching.
Witch Hazel is another multi-purpose plant. Rub onto the bite often to reduce itching and help heal faster.
While this is not an herb, Adolph's Meat Tenderizer is the best thing to soothe fire ant bites. Just make a paste and dab it on the bite.
Ginger root when dried and made into a tea is great for pain. Use 1 tsp of chopped ginger in 1 cup of boiling water, then sweeten with honey. Drink several times a day to relieve pain and the tea will also help with upset stomach.
Oregano can be used just as ginger root. Use one teaspoon of the fresh or dried leaves to a cup of boiling water. Use honey for a sweetener or agave. Oregano is very easy to grow in the garden and if you cook a lot of Italian dishes, it is invaluable!
Green tea is perfect for sore, stiff muscles. Brew according to the package instructions and drink often. Green tea is full of compounds that are great for the entire body.
Cloves or clove oil will deaden toothache pain immediately. Hold a whole clove in the cavity of the painful tooth or carefully rub the oil on the gum surrounding it and put a drop inside the cavity.
Coughs, Colds, and Flu
Elder flowers and berries made into a tea with mint helps loosen chest congestion and speed healing. Use one teaspoon of flowers, one teaspoon of dried berries, and mint to taste steeped in a cup of hot water. Sweeten with any sweetener. Drink three times a day or when symptoms are worst.
Mints help open the nose, throat, and chest. Catnip, spearmint, and peppermint are all very useful. Chew the raw leaves, make a tea from the leaves, or add to other teas.
Garlic is a natural antibiotic. Old fashioned chicken soup made with a generous amount of garlic really does work.
Tinctures, Teas, and Capsules
You can keep these natural healing herbs on hand as tinctures, teas, or capsules. It really doesn't matter. Different people have different preferences.
All in all tinctures stay fresh longer than dried herbs in capsules or teas but it is totally up to you. Any of these herbs can be purchased at your local health r natural foods store. Keep them updated and stored properly so that they are fresh and potent when you need them.