The Natural First Aid Kit
We should all have a first aid kit to hand in the home and whilst travelling so that we are equipped to deal with unexpected accidents and mishaps and the plant world provides us with a marvellous medicine chest. You might also be surprised to learn that your kitchen cupboards are a veritable pharmacy too!
Obviously any serious accident should be referred to a medical professional, and if symptoms fail to improve or continue to worsen you should seek medical advice.
A natural first aid kit should contain the following items:
- Bach Rescue Remedy for the immediate relief of the shock or hysteria that often occurs with an accident. Any on-going anxiety can be treated with Lemon balm (Melissa) teabags or capsules.
- Chamomile tea or capsules to treat nausea, vomiting, Spanish tummy or restlessness. Stomach upsets can also be treated with grated apple left to turn brown and mixed with a little honey. The pectin in apples helps to regulate the digestive system and improves nutrient absorption. ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away!’
- Ginger capsules for travel sickness.
- Peppermint or Fennel tea for indigestion.
- Raspberry leaf tea or Cinnamon capsules for diarrhoea. Flat coke is an excellent and easily obtained remedy for rehydration if you are suffering from diarrhoea (the artificial sweeteners in ‘diet’ coke may cause or exacerbate diarrhoea). Pepsi is so-called because it was originally marketed as a digestive remedy.
- Drugs such as Immodium are very effective at treating looseness, but in doing so may prolong any intestinal infection. If you are travelling abroad, particularly to hot countries or less developed parts of the world, it is a good idea to start a course of probiotics a fortnight before you depart and to continue taking them during your holiday and for a fortnight after you return. Probiotics discourage the proliferation of harmful bacteria and yeasts in the gut, and help to relieve both diarrhoea and constipation.
- Slippery elm powder for drawing splinters. A poultice made from a piece of yeasty brown bread soaked in warm milk is also effective.
- Lavender oil for headaches (apply to the temples). Or put a few drops in the bath or on your pillowcase to induce restful sleep.
- Citronella oil is an excellent insect repellent. Dilute with sweet almond oil (use 5-10 ml citronella to 90-95 ml sweet almond oil).
- Clove oil applied with a cotton but provides temporary relief for toothache (unsuitable for children).
- Distilled witch hazel is useful for nosebleeds and to treat blisters. It can also be applied to a cotton wool compress for irritated eyes. A cold teabag (regular tea of chamomile) can also reduce eye inflammation.
- Echinacea or Calendula tincture or ointment for disinfecting wounds and to treat cuts and grazes.
- Echinacea capsules or tincture for the treatment of acute infections such as colds and flu.
- Aloe Vera gel for burns, sunburn (natural yoghurt is great for cooling sunburn too!). Cold tea may also be applied to burns and scalds – its high tannin content helps to reduce ‘weeping’ wounds.
- Arnica ointment or gel for bruises and sprains.
- Vinegar or lemon juice for wasp stings.
- Bicarbonate of Soda for bee or ant stings. Dissolve a teaspoonful in a glass of warm water to relieve the discomfort of cystitis.
- Sage tea makes an excellent gargle for a sore throat, and the leaves can be chewed to relieve toothache. It also aids the digestion of rich, heavy food.
Your first aid kit should also include disposable gloves, cotton wool, cotton buds, sterile dressings, plasters, scissors, tweezers, thermometer. Put everything in a waterproof and airtight container and store in an easily accessible location.