Be prepared with natural remedies
Making your own herbal first aid kit doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Having just a few natural remedies assembled and ready to go is a great way to find relief for those minor first aid events that come along.
by Michelle Van Doren
Despite our best attempts to live a healthy and natural lifestyle, sometimes we are faced with the inevitable – cuts, scrapes, sunburns, insect bites, and other minor injuries. We can turn to conventional store-bought remedies, or we can make our own. Herbal remedies are extremely effective, simple to make, and easy to use. Being prepared and making your own herbal first aid kit is one way to take care of yourself.
By using natural remedies, we are connecting ourselves to the wisdom of past generations who relied on herbal medicine. It is empowering to know we can take care of ourselves with simple homemade treatments using plants. Once you have the basics assembled, you can create multiple first aid kits – one for home, one for travel, and one for the car.
There are many advantages to making your own herbal first aid kit.
- Cost effective – the remedies I suggest are available locally or by internet, and are typically effective in small amounts, so a little goes a long way.
- Better for you – pharmaceutical remedies often have added ingredients including artificial colors, flavors, and fillers.
- Better for the environment – these herbal remedies are made with minimal processing and use all-natural ingredients.
These five herbs have a long history of use, are effective, and safe. When it comes to first aid, simple is best. Fortunately, many herbal remedies offer more than one benefit, and can be used for multiple purposes in your herbal first aid kit.
There are so many healing herbs, but I chose these five to include in a simple first aid kit because they are extremely effective, abundant and easy to find, easy to grow, and have a long safety record.
Plantain (Plantago major)
Use for insect bites, bee stings, splinter removal, cooling for inflammation, helps in wound healing.
Plantain is a common weed in many lawns and can be collected fresh and the leaves dried (be sure you collect from an area that is free of chemicals.) Store dried, crushed leaves in a labeled zip lock bag. To use: Combine with enough water to create a paste to be applied to the treatment area.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Historically used as a powerful styptic (stops bleeding) for cuts, scrapes, and nose bleeds, antiseptic for wounds, wound healing, pain relief, and fever reduction.
Yarrow can be used fresh or dried. I keep some dried whole leaves and some dried and ground into a powder to be applied to cuts and scrapes to stop the bleeding. A strong yarrow tea using 1 teaspoon of leaves and flowers with 1 cup of water can be taken for fevers.
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
High in allantoin, research shows comfrey is effective at promoting tissue growth and is great at preventing or treating scar tissue.
Easy to grow, the leaves can be used fresh or dried to make a poultice or infused in olive oil to make a healing salve. Because comfrey causes such rapid healing, it should not be used on deep wounds or wounds with a suspected infection since the infection can be sealed within the wound. It should also not be used internally.
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea)
Studies show Echinacea is stimulating to the immune system.
Can be used internally as a tea or tincture, or applied directly to the skin to help prevent infections.
soothing and cooling, useful for minor burns, including sunburn.
Use either fresh from a leaf, or bottled, for treating burns and sunburns. Ensure that you’re using true aloe vera if you’re plucking a leaf off a plant, especially if you’re ingesting it. Some aloe species can make you ill.
How to use the Herbs
- Cuts, scrapes, bruises – apply yarrow to stop the bleeding. Grind fresh or dried yarrow leaves and add a small amount of water to create a paste. Apply directly to the wound and replace as needed every few minutes until the bleeding stops. After cleaning the wound, apply plantain poultice and cover with a bandage to promote healing.
- Insect bites – apply fresh or dried plantain leaves ground with a small amount of water. Plantain provides rapid inflammation and itch relief.
- Splinters – apply a plantain poultice and cover. Replace the poultice when it becomes dry. Plantain has a strong “drawing” effect and will help ease the removal of the splinter.
- Sunburn – aloe vera gel, either fresh from a leaf, or bottled, can be applied to directly to burns for cooling relief.
Other Supplies for Your Kit
Everything you need from below is in this kit.
- Medical tape
- Bandages in multiple sizes
Michelle Van Doren and her family recently made big changes, leaving a city home and city salary behind to create a homestead on 2.5 acres in the mountains. She says that it was exciting, scary, and stressful, but so worth it! Her blog focuses on the struggles and uncertainty of their journey from the Washington, DC suburbs to their small home in the country. Find Michelle over at Seeking Joyful Simplicity.
Disclaimer – The remedies suggested here are for minor first aid and not meant to replace the advice and treatment of a qualified health care professional. Always use common sense when treating injuries and illness.