Having a well-stocked first-aid kit on hand is one of those grown-up things we know we should do, but often put off. Instead of buying a pre-assembled kit from a store, why not build your own first-aid kit with natural remedies? Your kit should include cotton balls, Q-Tips, Band-Aids, tweezers, and a small spritz bottle of rubbing alcohol. But what green items could our kit have?
I have a couple of small round tins of a Burt’s Bees product called Wise Woman Comfrey Comfort Salve. One lives in my purse; the other is in the medicine cabinet. Rebranded as Dr. Burt’s Res-Q Ointment, it’s wonderful for bruises, scrapes, stings and minor burns. It contains sweet almond oil, olive oil, beeswax, cocoa butter, wheat germ oil, vitamin E oil, lavender oil, and comfrey leaf and root extracts.
One of the most important ingredients at play here is the comfrey. Comfrey leaves and roots are highly valued as an external remedy for sprains, swellings, bruises, severe cuts, boils, abscesses, and gangrenous and ill-conditioned ulcers. The whole plant, beaten and applied hot as a poultice, is excellent for soothing pain in any tender, inflamed, or suppurating part. It is an effective astringent for any kind of inflammatory swelling. I always keep a tiny zip pouch in my purse with a half-teaspoon of ground comfrey root. Mixed with saliva and applied directly to a wound as a poultice, it will stop bleeding almost immediately.
Soap and water is the best way to clean a minor wound. However, if you don’t have access to them, a small container of rubbing alcohol will help stave off infection. Make it hydrogen peroxide if you have small children who can’t take the sting.
Tea Tree Oil is naturally antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial. Use it as you would use an antibacterial cream, i.e. massage a thin layer onto the area. Described as having a fresh, camphor-like scent, tea tree oil contains 98 different compounds and six chemotypes, which are oils with complex chemical compositions.
Clove Oil is a natural numbing agent. It has been used for centuries to treat oral pain. While most commonly used for toothaches, it also can be used on the skin to alleviate painful cuts and bruises. The oil is extracted from the bud, leaf and stem of the plant; and possesses antiseptic, analgesic, antibacterial and local anesthetic properties.
Honey contains natural antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, and has been used for thousands of years to treat a number of ailments. It has an osmotic effect, meaning water is drawn to the sugars and little remains available for microorganisms to grow, so it is a poor environment for bacteria. With naturally occurring hydrogen peroxide, honey never rots when kept sealed. In fact, jars of perfectly preserved honey have been found sealed in Egyptian tombs. Apply honey to cuts, scrapes, stings and burns. If possible, use pure medicinal honey such as Manuka honey from New Zealand.
Pure Aloe Vera Gel is a perfect sting-free cooling and healing agent for all sorts of burns and abrasions. It keeps forever, too.
Lavender Essential Oil has a very calming scent. It can be used to alleviate allergy symptoms as well as headaches (including sinus headaches). Another natural product for headaches is Bach’s Rescue Remedy. It’s totally natural and contains five of the 38 Bach Flower Essences®: Rock Rose for terror and panic, Impatiens for irritation and impatience, Clematis for inattentiveness, Star of Bethlehem for shock, and Cherry Plum for irrational thoughts.
Speaking of shock, I always keep these items in my trunk in case I run across a car accident: Pedialyte for dehydration, a space blanket for shivering, and a couple of flares.
For stomach upset and nausea, Umeboshi Plum is the most revolting condiment you’ll never want to be without. Umeboshi are sour, salted, fermented plums, either whole or in a paste. They’re purplish in color, very salty tasting, and I practically have to hold my nose while gulping it down. But the effect is immediate and extraordinary. If you have an upset stomach, gas, acid reflux, or nausea, umeboshi plum works better and faster than Alka-Seltzer or Pepto-Bismol. It also fights bacteria growth and aids digestion, and was prized by samurai for aiding battle fatigue. It’s full of vitamins and minerals, and is considered a good hangover cure, too.
Bentonite Clay is great for drawing out impurities. Bug bites, especially spider bites, can leave behind a small boil or infection. Mix a bit of bentonite clay with water to make a poultice and leave on the area to dry. The poultice will draw out infections. It can also help heal skin rashes and sooth large insect bites. It also makes a great facial mask for deep pore cleansing, or can be used in a bath for toxin removal.