witches' first aid kit
BUILDING RESISTANCE Daily stresses, changes in climate, exposure to illness, disrupted schedules and sleep habits put your body through unfamiliar stresses to your resistance. Start several days before a trip with echinacea and astragalus. Pack a bottle of echinacea tincture and some slices of astragalus root These are immune-system stimulants for increasing resistance, astragalus can decrease the incidence and duration of the common cold. Don't take these daily at home- if you don't take breaks, they won't work as well.
INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL ANTIBIOTIC, Echinacea tincture provides temporary boost to the immune system. Good in case a cold threatens. Antidotes poison.
ADAPTOGENS like ginseng, to increase endurance and resistance. Used in China to normalize various body functions, like blood pressure, blood sugar, energy and to increase strength and stamina (increasing Yang). Eleuthero ginseng has also been shown to protect the liver, which is important if overindulging in unusually rich foods and beverages. Milk thistle for unaccustomed pollutants. Seed extract protects the liver from damage and aids in the regenerative of liver cells damaged by toxins and disease such as hepatitis.
HERBS FOR THE STOMACH Ginger for motion sickness, stomach complaints, indigestion, nausea, ulcers, gas, menstrual cramps. Peppermint is a good digestive, which reduces gastric acidity and increases stomach-emptying speed. Alternatives: fennel and peppermint. Include non-herbal antacids, too. To manage diarrhea, use plants high in tannins. These are antibacterial & form a protective coating on the intestines. Raspberry leaf provides a very mild remedy. (Slippery elm tea too, but is an endangered plant!). Blackberry and strawberry root and leaf will relieve diarrhea and reduce internal hemorrhaging. (root is preferred for its greater astringency: simmer root for 20-40 minutes or steep leaf for tea for 10-30 minutes). Other astringents include: bistort root, white oak bark. Barberry and Goldenseal have astringent & antimicrobial effects. Japanese research finds goldenseal extract is very effective against intestinal bacteria; Barberry effective against parasites of gastrointestinal infections. One of the oldest anti-diarrheals is guava leaves. It's a good idea to also carry something for absorbing bacterial toxins, like pectin or kaolin-pectin compounds. A few bites of peeled green apple--high in pectin--can be substituted in a pinch. Bentonite clay or charcoal tablets for diarrhea, assist with detoxification, in case of poisoning. (charcoal:take 4 every hour. Bentonite clay: take 1 teaspoon in water, 3-4 times per day). For constipation. Try senna or cascara sagrada, both stimulant laxatives. (only used for temporary relief when needed.) Pitted fruits are also effective.
FIRST AID Aloe vera for minor burns, including sunburn, chapped skin. Witch hazel for scratches, scrapes,shaving irritation, burns and insect bites. Tea tree oil is a potent antiseptic, treats athelete's foot and other fungal skin conditions. Relief from bruises where the skin is unbroken, applied topically in tincture form: Tienchi ginseng, hyssop, myrrh gum, prickly ash bark, cayenne, calendula, comfrey and arnica. Obtain a 'dit dat jao' from a Chinese herbalist. Helichrysum italicum (curry) essential oil. Tincture combination, jao, or essential oil immediately may prevent the bruise from forming. *Do not use these remedies on the eyes or mucous membranes and wash thoroughly after use.
MUSCLE ACHES AND PAINS liniment for external use: Arnica tincture, or one of the creams or rubs, for bruises, strains and sprains (some people are sensitive to arnica. Do not use arnica on broken skin) . Witch hazel and St. John's Wort tinctures in combination with essential oils of camphor, eucalyptus, rosemary and clove bud.
FAST ACTING, ANTI-INFLAMMATORY, PAIN-KILLERS Meadowsweet tincture or aspirin. Willow bark tea works well. Thyme essential oil. Two drops in 4 ounces of water for mouthwash for toothache or sore throat. Same recipe used externally for crabs, lice & all external parasites. Two drops placed in recently boiled water, inhale the steam for cold, flu, or bronchitis. Echinacea is helpful when it comes to snakebite. Cayenne , a proven styptic, applied externally to stop bleeding. Also warms cold feet, sprinkled inside your boots. Alternative styptics: comfrey and yarrow. Use caution using comfrey.
INSECT REPELLANT Essential oils of lavender, citronella, eucalyptus, cedarwood, lemon grass suspended in a base of water and alcohol, are pleasant smelling to humans and noxious to bugs. The combinations work better than the single oils. Note that eating sugar and sweets increases your attraction to many insects! (Caution, contrary to popular belief, pennyroyal essential oil can be toxic even in moderate doses, especially in pregnant women. It is powerful and can effect people and pets in the vicinity of the user.)
ANTI-MICROBIAL HEALING SALVE A comfrey based salve, with inctured combinations seem to work best and are applied directly to the skin. Use plantain, grindelia, St. John's wort, calendula and echinacea, to soothe, accelerate healing and disinfect. Essential oils of lavender and rosemary strengthen the effects. Use for any breaks in the skin and for burns. *(Do not use initially on puncture wounds, use an antiseptic such as echinacea tincture instead)
POISON IVY AND POISON OAK Liniment for external use. Jewelweed (impatiens) neutralizes the Rhus toxin and works well. Use fresh or tinctured, Other remedies include grindelia, with echinacea, calendula and white oak bark.
JET LAG Judicious use of stimulants tea, ginseng, ephedra and sedatives valerian, chamomile, hops or kava-kava for the first few days. Light-therapy can help to reset your body's production of the natural sedative, melatonin. A half hour in early- to mid- afternoon sun for the first few days of travel.