Every Wise Woman

Real Food, Real Health, Real Birth

Essential Elements for Natural First Aid

Stocking your natural medicine cabinet will provide effective (and often swift) relief to everyday ailments as well as keep you prepared for emergency first aid situations.  Today we will look at essential remedies/treatments for acute injuries, wounds, trauma and respiratory distress.  In future posts I will delve into other areas of illness and share remedies for particular ailments.

The following is my first aid "quick list;" for detailed information on each herb/treatment, look for upcoming posts (and/or read through the links provided below).  In this list I have highlighted the most common uses of each herb and some of the primary bodily influences...this is not to be taken as an exhaustive reference.  Herbs are potent and multi-faceted medicines with numerous constituents and healing properties.  Any dosing information provided is based on my personal experience and opinion consolidated from my studies; I urge you to look at the book and website recommendations in my Library and Links sections for further information.

[Internal medicinal herbs are best used in tincture form.  Powdered herbs and teas are fine, but tinctures work faster and are more potent.*  When dosing for babies and small children, use 1/4 to 1/2 the adult dose...use your judgment based upon size of child.]

Cayenne (powder and tincture)

  • shock, bleeding, stroke, heart attack
  • antibacterial, antiseptic, blood thinner, cardiovascular tonic, hemostatic, stimulant, vulnerary
  • apply externally to wounds (powder); powerful wound cleanser and anti-hemmorhagic 
  • internal dosage 1/4 to 1/2 tsp powder in warm water or 5-10 drops strong tincture (as needed)

Plantain (powder and salve, fresh/dried leaves)

  • stings, bites, rash, swelling, burns
  • anti-inflammatory, astringent, antiseptic, demulcent, emollient, styptic
  • apply powder to cuts for styptic action; salve to any skin ailment/wound 
  • chew fresh leaves and apply where needed (especially good for drawing out poisons); soak fresh or dried leaves in hot water and apply directly (works quite well for burns)
Comfrey (oil, salve, powder, fresh/dried leaves)
  • burns, wounds, sprains, fractures
  • astringent, cell proliferant, demulcent, styptic, vulnerary
  • this fabulous healer isn't nicknamed "knitbone" for nothing!  Broken bones mend quickly when comfrey is applied (I can personally attest to this in repeated uses)
  • apply fresh or reconstituted dried leaves directly to wound; wrap around break or sprain
  • apply powder to cuts for styptic action; salve to any wound/bruise/break/sprain
Arnica (ointment, salve, homeopathic pellets)
  • bruises, trauma, sore muscles
  • anti-clotting agent, vulnerary
  • extraordinary for bumps and bruises; take homeopathic internally; use ointment/salve on bruise
  • its anti-clotting action is what makes arnica a potent bruise healer (it breaks down the bruise); but because of this action, be careful using arnica straight on bleeding wounds
Calendula (oil, salve, lotion)
  • scrapes, cuts, skin irritations, injuries
  • analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, styptic
  • one of the best antiseptics available; promotes healing of wounds; relieves pain
  • apply locally as needed
[I am currently in the process of preparing for sale a batch of my Super Salve, which contains the above-mentioned herbs and many more, plus essential oils.  It is truly "first aid in a tin."  Check back in the near future for an announcement of the product.]
Burdock root (powder, tincture)
  • poisoning, swelling, burns, sores
  • bacteriocide, blood purifier, demulcent, laxative, hepatic
  • an excellent blood cleanser, liver and kidney purifier, detoxifier; antidote for acute poisoning
  • reduces swelling around joints, supports pituitary gland
  • works in complement with charcoal (see below) 
  • to neutralize poisons/toxins internally take 1 tsp. powder in warm water (or 1 dropper-full tincture)
Red Clover (tincture)
  • nervous conditions, spasms, toxins, hives, bronchitis/whooping cough
  • anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-cancer, anti-spasmodic, blood purifier, sedative, expectorant
  • excellent for calming children, wonderful for coughs, reduces swelling and toxicity
  • 1 dropper-full tincture mixed in warm water
Lobelia (tincture)
  • asthma, coughs, congestion, poisoning, convulsions, migraines, seizures
  • anti-spasmodic, astringent, diaphoretic, emetic, expectorant, nervine, sedative
  • dilates bronchial tubes, helping asthma and coughs; relaxant to nervous system
  • 1 dropper full in warm water as needed
  • large amounts cause vomiting; this can be used to eliminate poisons...drink a lot of water with lobelia if using as emetic
Mullein (tincture)
  • excellent complement to lobelia; wonderful for respiratory ailments, lung spasms, pain relief
  • anodyne, anti-spasmodic, anti-tussive, demulcent, emollient, expectorant, vulnerary
  • clears lungs and lymphatic system, relieves swelling, moves mucus, soothes inflammation
  • 1 dropper full in warm water as needed; combination tincture with lobelia quite useful
Activated Charcoal (powder)
  • works through adsorption...binds toxins to surface of charcoal
  • remedy par excellence for treating toxicity, nausea and diarrhea
  • to use internally, mix 1 tsp. powder in water and drink (adjust amount as needed)
  • to draw out poisons from bites/stings, mix paste with powder and water and apply to wound
Bentonite Clay (especially Pascalite)
  • draws out toxins, detoxifier
  • perfect to use with charcoal to draw out toxins from skin
  • works wonderfully on wounds that become infected...will draw out even deep pus and infection
  • mix with water to make "mud" and apply as needed...freshen hourly to treat infections
  • can use for soaking in "foot bath" to detoxify; 1/2 cup clay in a few gallons of warm water
Bach's Rescue Remedy (flower essence tincture)
  • excellent remedy to restore emotional calm, combat panic, fear, prevent shock
  • 10 drops/adult, 5 drops/child; directly under tongue; use as needed
Lavender Essential Oil
  • a universal oil; one of the best medicines in the EO world
  • burns, wounds, bites, bruising, cramps, pain, upset, hysteria, nausea, insomnia
  • analgesic, anti-fungal, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, regenerative, sedative
  • rub a few drops straight onto wound, bruises, burns, etc (lavender oil is one of the only EOs gentle enough to use without dilution); rub over any cramping area; just apply where/as needed
  • smell oil for calming; rub under nose, on throat, around chest, shoulders; put a few drops on tissue; breathe right out of bottle if necessary 
Tea Tree Oil
  • wounds, potential infection, rash, burns, respiratory problems, fungal infections
  • analgesic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, antiseptic, antiviral, decongestant, immune stimulant, tissue regenerator 
  • (FYI trivia: tea tree is such a potent germicide and antiseptic that the Australian army and navy carried it in their regulation first aid kits during WW2)
  • tea tree oil also may be applied straight to skin without burning it; use as needed, similar to lavender recommendations above
[Difference between lavender and tea tree?  As EOs, like herbs, are multifunctional, the differences often are miniscule.  I grab for my lavender when there is hysteria to deal with or a sprained ankle, cramp pain, etc.  I reach for the tea tree when someone gets a puncture or gash and I'm concerned about cleaning out the wound to ward off infection.  Either oil works well for burns (sunburns, first- and second-degree burns); they work quite well together.  Both oils work as antiseptics.  So why have both?  Hmmm...Good question.  In my experience, tea tree is slightly more effective as a germicide and anti-infectious agent and lavender is more analgesic.  They both promote cell renewal and are excellent for first aid treatment.  EOs share properties but are also unique; each circumstance may call for the special properties of a particular oil...even the smell may affect the patient uniquely.  Many oils are complementary and work synergistically (they are more potent together).  If you can buy and keep both, it would make your kit and your ability to heal more complete.]
Eucalyptus Oil
  • asthma, fever, migraines, sinus problems, respiratory problems, viruses
  • analgesic, anti-bacterial, anti-catarrhal, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, expectorant
  • to use for asthma, sinus/lung problems, dilute and rub on nose, chest, throat, back; also beneficial to breathe in oil by steam inhalation (boil water, pour into bowl on table, put in 3-5 eucalyptus drops, bend over bowl with head/bowl covered with towel, breathe for 5 minutes or as long as you can stand heat...the EOs will begin to dissipate the moment they hit the hot water, so be prepared to get over the bowl and start inhaling as soon as drops go in)

When using essential oils, use only pure, unadulterated oils...the best you can afford; the oils are quite potent...think of them as the "blood" of the plant; they are stronger than dried herbs.  With essential oils remember that a little bit goes a long way.  Start with a few drops (from a pea size to a teaspoon's worth depending on area to be covered) and work up to more as needed.  In external applications, most oils need to be diluted so they do not burn the skin.  A general rule of thumb is to dilute 10 to 15 drops of EO in 1 Tb. carrier oil (such as jojoba or olive).  For babies, dilute 3 drops EO to 1 Tb. carrier; for small children (up to ~ age 6) use 3 drops EO to 1 tsp. carrier oil. 
Homeopathic Apis, Arnica, Aconite, Antimonium Tart

The study of homeopathy deserves thorough and separate attention.  I will not address that here, but cannot round out the first aid kit without mentioning my favorite and most-used "A" remedies. 

Apis: for hives, bug bites, bee stings, swelling (I use this for my son rather than Benadryl and it works wonders for his allergic hives)
Arnica: as mentioned above, this is the remedy for bumps and bruises, aches and pains
Aconite: excellent for shock, for the onset of colds/flus
Antimonium Tart.: a good remedy for asthma, especially if accompanied by rough coughing

To use homeopathics, it is easiest to keep the 30X or 30C potency on hand (these are the potencies sold most commonly); dose with three to five pellets given directly into the mouth by placing the pellets in the cap and dumping them under the tongue.  In homeopathy, it is not the size of the dose that is crucial, but rather how often the dose is given.  For acute conditions and emergencies, dose more often...every 15 minutes.  For less severe situations, dose every hour to three hours depending on symptoms.  The key to using homeopathy is to STOP dosing when you notice a positive change...when the symptoms begin to abate or change in a positive way.  If you notice no change/improvement after giving three to four doses, you are likely not using the correct remedy for the situation.  Stop and try another.  But that is a discussion for another day....

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It is difficult to "finish" a first aid kit primer; so many outstanding herbs and remedies exist and can/should be added to the repertoire.  The above represents a basic first aid regimen and is not to be taken as exhaustive.  There are many variations on this theme...as you study and practice, you may come up with a different or additional list of essentials.  Some useful quick reference guides are:

Pocket Guide to Herbal First Aid by Nancy Evelyn
The Pocket Herbal Reference by Rita Elkins

Comfort for the Burned and Wounded by John Keim

For more information on herbal first aid, check out the following websites:
First Aid Herbs
Brigitte Mars first aid
Herbal Reference List
Schulze's Top Ten
Herb Remedies

 

*To better understand tinctures and how to make them, see:
Herbaltini tinctures (I am not recommending this product, just pointing to the information)

 

EWWHerbals                                                                              "Every wise woman builds her house..."  Proverbs 14:1

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