Make your Own Herbal First Aid Kit

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Mom's Home Herbal

It irritates me when people want to run to the doctor for every little cough, sneeze, sniffle or fever. I know I shouldn’t be impatient, since I was in that place once. I remember taking my oldest daughter, who is now 15, to the doctor for ear infections, fevers, and sometimes just plain fussiness. I remember the fear and insecurity that came with that, not being able to get a hold of a doctor over the weekend and my poor little baby suffering the whole time while she waited for me to take her to a doctor.

It’s like night and day – once helpless, dependent, and full of worries and fears; now empowered and confident. It is such a comforting feeling to know that for most family illnesses and health emergencies, I have the tools and know-how to take care of them myself! No waiting on a doctor over the weekend or dealing with a screaming child for an hour or more in an emergency room or doctors office waiting room full of sick people. If you have not yet educated yourself on simple herbal remedies for basic family health care, I strongly encourage you to do so – it is one of the best things I have ever done!

To make a family herbal first aid kit, the first thing that you will want to do is take inventory of your family’s health. Are you in basically good health, or do you catch every bug that goes around? What are your most common illnesses? Do you have an extremely clumsy kid? (Zee is very clumsy, and I have gotten calls from the school twice this year about bruises, one of which DCFS sent a social worker to investigate my husband and me at our home!) There are a few things that every family with small children should be prepared for – here is a basic list of some of the most common things that people go to the doctor for that can easily be treated at home:

  • ear infections
  • colds
  • stomach flu
  • pink eye
  • parasites
  • headlice
  • staph infections
  • yeast infections
  • warts
  • strep throat
  • chicken pox

And a few basics, usually treated with over the counter medicines:

  • indigestion
  • diarrhea
  • bug bites
  • sunburn
  • cuts
  • scrapes
  • bruises

All of these can be treated at home naturally without commercially prepared medicines, and would all but completely remove any need for a doctors visit, with the exception of real medical emergencies like broken bones or other traumatic injuries.

The ideal would be to have a small travel size kit with just the basics for the car, and a larger one that is kept in a safe place at home in a container like a large fishing tackle box with plenty of room for ace bandages, and supplies like a capsulator and a mortar and pestle, etc.

The following is a fairly comprehensive list of things that would be good to keep on hand and their uses (chose the items that are most relevant to your family. You can also add other items that you feel your family needs – if you feel the list is missing something important, please leave a comment!):

Tinctures – Note: If you dislike the alcohol used in tinctures, you can reduce its presence somewhat by placing the drops in a half cup of hot, boiled water and allowing it to sit for 15 minutes, or you can look for glycerites (glycerine based extracts).

Arnica:
Apply immediately after an injury and continue every couple hours for the first day. Can be combined with a few drops of Hypericum.
Use on sore and cramped muscles, or for strained or sprained muscles or tendons, or bumps and bruises.

  • Decreases pain
  • Prevents swelling and bruising

Cayenne:

  • Use five to ten drops diluted in two ounces of water to help with frostbite and hypothermia
  • Put a couple of drops under the tongue to revives someone who is in shock or trauma. Cayenne taken this way has also been known to stop heart attacks.
  • Put directly on wound externally to coagulate blood and stop the bleeding

Valerian:

  • 30 to 60 drops
    • Relieves intestinal and menstrual cramps
    • Relives headaches and general aches or pains
    • Brings sleep to an exhausted person
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon up to 3 times daily relives anxiety

Echinacea:

The dosage ranges from 30 to 60 drops, the higher ranges used for fevers and acute situations. Echinacea stimulates the immune system and can be used with fevers, poisoning, or any type of internal infection.

  • Add 1 dropperful of echinacea extract to 1?2 cup of water as an antiseptic wash.
  • Use as an antibiotic and antibacterial
  • Use for poisonous insect and snake bites
    • 60 drops every 15 minutes until symptoms subside.
  • Use as a preventative and supportive herb for the flu or common cold
  • For toothaches, it can be massaged into the surrounding gums and teeth.

Elderberry:

  • Take 1 dropperful four times a day until symptoms subside.
    • Stops or Prevents cold or flu
    • Speeds up recovery from cold or flu

Grindelia:

Can be applied externally to cool and soothe hot, irritated skin rashes or sunburn, and itchy bites:

  • For exposure to poison oak/ivy/sumac, immediately wash the affected area
  • thoroughly with soap and cool water, or sponge with alcohol to remove the oily resin.
  • If a rash occurs, spray with grindelia extract several times a day.
    • Relieves poison ivy

Taken internally:

  • Expels mucus obstruction in the bronchioles
  • May be useful for some types of asthma and respiratory congestion

1:1:1 Milk thistle, burdock, & kelp combination:

  • Take before and after dental x-rays and after taking Tylenol or Advil.
    • Leaches heavy metals and radiation toxicity from the thyroid, blood, and liver.

Quassia:

  • Take three to five droppersful every six hours.
  • To treat suspected bad water, add 30 drops to each quart of water.
    • Use as an antimicrobial
    • Used for bacterial diarrhea, dysentery, and giardia

Usnea:

  • Take three to five droppersful every six hours.
  • To treat suspected bad water, add 30 drops to each quart of water.
    • Has antibiotic properties
    • Use for colds, flu, bronchitis, urinary tract infections, & sore throat
    • Useful for some fungal infections

Syrup of Ipecac:

  • Apply immediately after an injury and continue every couple hours for the first day.
    • Promotes vomiting
    • Decreases pain
    • Prevents swelling and bruising

5 Flower Rescue Remedy:

  • Apply immediately after an injury and continue every couple hours for the first day.
    • Use for emotional trauma for all ages
    • Decreases pain
    • Prevents swelling and bruising

Meadowsweet:

  • Use a couple of drops directly under the tongue.
    • Use as a fast acting, anti-inflammatory
    • Pain relief

Hypericum (St. John’s Wort):

  • Used externally or internally. Hypericum has pain-soothing, anti-inflammatory, and tissue healing properties.
    • On burns
    • Puncture wounds
    • Sores
    • Boils
    • On insect and animal bites
    • Use specifically on wounds with sharp, shooting pains, and puncture wounds.
    • Useful for bruises
    • Neuralgias
    • Muscle strains
    • Spasms
    • Muscle aches.
    • Add a few drops in water for a pain-relieving mouthwash for gums that are sore from flossing or dental work

Urtica Urens:

  • • Apply topically to burns or hives. Can be used with Hypericum for painful burns. For
  • chemical burns flush with water immediately for 20 minutes before treating.
  • o Rapid pain relief
  • o Prevents vesicles, inflammation, and scarring in 1st and 2nd degree burns
  • o Promotes tissue healing
  • o Can be applied to old burns to bring about more complete healing
  • o Soothes hives

Calendula:

  • • Apply topically to cuts or scrapes
  • o Aids healing
  • Eleuthero Standardized Extract:
  • • Use a couple of drops directly under the tongue.
  • o Prevents Jet Lag (used by Soviet cosmonauts to help them adjust to space
  • travel)

Witch Hazel Extract:

  • Excellent base for diluting essential oils or for a variety of simple, topical herbal firstaid  remedies. Do not take it internally.
    • Use as a mild astringent, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory
    • Useful for insect bites and skin irritations.
    • Apply to gauze and place over blister to dry it up

Bug Bite and Itch Relief Combination – Apply Tincture combination directly to the skin. Note: Juice from the plantain is mildly effective and it grows throughout this region (just crumple or chew the leaves and rub onto the skin). This combination provides relief from insect bites and general itching:

  • Witch hazel
  • Plantain
  • Grindelia
  • Comfrey
  • Lavendar Oil (enhances any tincture combination)
  • St. John’s Wort

Powdered Herbs
Slippery elm capsules:

  • Take Capsules or mix into juice
    • Used for food poisoning
    • Decrease toxic absorption
    • Soothe mucous membranes
    • Settles an upset stomach

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale):
The root can be dried and made into a powder that has strong anti-cancer properties.

  • Cures Some Cancers
    • Dig root, shake off excess soil, DO NOT WASH! Chop it into little pieces and dry it at no more than 100° until it is brittle. Grind into powder and take ½ tsp 2 – 3 times a day in juice.
  • Eat leaves in salad or use as a diuretic

Ginger root capsules:

  • Take two capsules
    • Use for motion sickness or morning sickness
    • Take for nausea caused by flu or bad food
    • Use to relieve gas
    • For nausea, take 1 to 2 capsules of dried ginger every 15 minutes
    • To prevent motion sickness, take 6 to 8 capsules of powdered ginger about 45 minutes before departing
    • To calm a queasy stomach, chew on a piece of crystallized ginger.

Elderberry capsules:

  • Take capsules.
    • Stops or Prevents cold or flu
    • Speeds up recovery from cold or flu

4:1 Marshmallow-peppermint oil capsules:

  • Take capsules.
    • Reduces intestinal cramping

Blackberry and Strawberry Root and Leaf:

  • Take capsules
    • Reduces internal hemorrhaging.

Cayenne:

  • Open and apply externally
    • Stops bleeding
    • Warms cold feet (sprinkle inside your boots)

Cinnamon:

  • Take ¼ tsp 3 times daily
    • Regulates blood pressure

Goldenseal Powder:

  • Sprinkle onto cuts or wounds as antimicrobial or to stop bleeding. Do not takegoldenseal internally during pregnancy
    • A powerful antimicrobial
    • Warms cold feet (sprinkle inside your boots)
    • For diarrhea caused by infectious microorganisms, take 1 capsule of goldenseal three times daily for up to two weeks

Comfrey:
Alternative styptics: comfrey and yarrow. Comfrey is perhaps the finest internal antihemorrhage
there is.

Goldenseal:

  • Use Sparingly
    • Use as an antimicrobial, antibacterial

Myrrh:

  • Use Sparingly
    • Use as an antimicrobial, antibacterial

Bentonite Clay or Charcoal Tablets:

  • Take 1 teaspoon in water, 3-4 times per day. Drink a lot of water. Helpful herbs include blackberry root or leaf (root is preferred for its greater astringency: simmer root for 20-40 minutes or steep leaf for tea for 10-30 minutes). Similarly, use wild strawberry root or leaf. Cooked white rice works wonders at reducing diarrhea.
    • To relieve diarrhea
  • Of charcoal, take 4 every hours, of bentonite clay, take 1 teaspoon in water, 3-4 times per day, drink a lot of water.
    • To assist with detoxification, in case of poisoning.

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) Tea Bags:

  • Taken Internally 3 cups a day:
    • Mild sedative
    • Relives anxiety
    • Antispasmodic
    • Anti-inflammatory
    • Antibacterial
    • Promotes relaxation
    • Relieves indigestion
  • Applied externally
    • Soothes skin irritations

Laxative Tea Bags: Senna combined with cinnamon, fennel, licorice and ginger.
Peppermint Tea Bags: Soothes upset stomach & clears sinuses.

Essential Oils

Peppermint Oil

  • Rub a little on the temples
    • can help you stay awake
  • Take a few drops mixed in water
    • Settles an upset stomach

Tea Tree Oil

  • Use sparingly. For sensitive skin, dilute with equal parts olive oil.
    • Use for fungal infections
    • Good for infected pus-filled wounds or burns
    • Apply to cold sores and herpes lesions.
    • Use for earaches

Oregano Oil

  • Use sparingly. Dilute with olive oil.
    • Use for fungal infections
    • Use to get rid of cold sores
    • Used as a disinfectant or antimicrobial

Peppermint Oil

  • If you have sensitive skin, dilute with olive oil before applying. Taken internally, peppermint may aggravate heartburn.
    • Clears sinuses
  • Curbs itching from insect bites.
    • Soothes an upset stomach
    • To relieve headaches, massage 2 drops of diluted peppermint essential oil onto temples, forehead and neck. Keep away from eyes

Eucalyptus Oil

  • Dilute with oil or witch hazel extract before applying to skin; do not take internally.
    • A potent antibiotic and antiviral
  • Add a few drops to recently boiled water to use as a steam inhalation.
    • Use for treating colds, flus and sinus infections
  • Soak in a hot bath with 5 drops of eucalyptus essential oil.
    • Use to relieve pain from strains or sprains

Lavender Oil – lavender enhances properties of other essential oils

  • For most people, lavender essential oil can be applied directly to the skin. Do not take more than 1 to 2 drops internally.
    • Soothes wounds and burns
    • Has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties
  • Add 10 drops to a bath or on a cloth to inhale.
    • Relieves anxiety, insomnia, & headaches
    • Use as a sedative
    • Relives sunburn

Clove Oil

  • Dilute with olive oil before applying to skin.
    • Use as an antiseptic for cuts
    • Soothes toothaches

Thyme Oil

  • Take two drops in 4 ounces of water.
    • Use as mouthwash
    • Use as toothache
    • Relieves sore throats
  • Apply externally for:
    • Crabs
    • Lice
    • External parasites
  • Add two drops to recently boiled water & inhale the steam for:
    • Colds
    • Flu
    • Bronchitis

Salves
Emollients — marshmallow, slippery elm, plantain, comfrey, and mullein
Antimicrobials — echinacea, goldenseal, yerba mansa, Oregon grape, osha, propolis, myrrh gum, garlic, calendula, chamomile, chaparral, gentian, and usnea
Astringents — horsetail, bistort, geranium, rose, alum, yarrow, witch hazel, yellow dock, and St. John’s wort.
Note: A combination of one herb from each category is a good disinfectant for anaerobic bacteria and is soothing to epithelial cells. The mixture will also cut down on bleeding and slow the scarring process. It will speed up the healing time and can be used anywhere a salve is needed to coat and protect.
Antimicrobial healing salve: A comfrey based salve, including herbs such as plantain, St. John’s wort, calendula and Echinacea; essential oils such as lavender and rosemary strengthen the effects.

  • Soothes
  • Accelerates healing
  • Disinfects
  • 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

Liniment for Aches & Pains: Arnica, witch hazel and St. John’s Wort tinctures in combination with essential oils of camphor, eucalyptus, rosemary and clove bud. Note: some people are sensitive to arnica: STOP using if adverse symptoms result. Do not use arnica on broken skin.

  • Stops swelling
  • Prevents bruising
  • Relieves aches and pains

Liniment for Poison Oak/Ivy/Sumac: Jewelweed (impatiens) specifically neutralizes the Rhus toxin and works well. Use fresh or tinctured, but jewelweed can be hard to find. Other remedies include grindelia, combined with echinacea, calendula and white oak bark.

  • Stops swelling
  • Prevents bruising
  • Relieves aches and pains

Bruise Relief Liniment: (For wounds where the skin is unbroken), Use a combination of tinctures, including Tienchi ginseng, hyssop, myrrh gum, prickly ash bark, cayenne, calendula, comfrey and arnica. Helichrysum italicum essential oil, applied externally also works very well and is non-irritating. Do not use these remedies on the eyes or mucous membranes and wash thoroughly after use.

Fresh Herbs
Garlic:

  • Use as antibacterial
    • Too many uses to name ?

Aloe Vera:

  • Apply directly to burns. Add 5 drops of Lavender oil for each tablespoon of Aloe Vera
    • Soothes the inflammation of sunburn and common kitchen scalds and burns
    • Cools and heals
  • Can be used internally as a purgative, but be careful, too much will cause hemorrhoids

German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita):

  • Break up a few heads, squeeze them and put them in a cup of water. Give the mixture to a child with an eyedropper
    • Used as a relaxing tea
    • Provides instant relief for colic pain in newborn babies
  • Used as a hair rinse to highlight the blonde strands in fair hair

Calendula Petals:

  • Make a soothing emollient by infusing petals in olive oil; leave in a sunny spot for a couple of weeks before using directly on the affected skin.
    • Use for diaper rash, eczema or other skin problems

Calendula Succus: Succus is the Juice from aerial parts of the plant preserved in small amount of alcohol. Can be used externally on either open or closed wounds that are tender, red, swollen and tending toward the formation of pus .

  • Use It to clean wounds
  • Stops bleeding
  • Promotes tissue healing
  • Used for inflamed skin conditions like lacerations and burns (including sunburns) and other skin irritations such as diaper rash or eczema.
    • Place the Calendula succus onto the pad of a bandage and place over the wound. Keep the wound covered with a bandage and Calendula until new skin forms. If the wound is very painful add Hypericum tincture for pain relief.
  • When used early on in the wound healing process Calendula can also prevent the formation of scar tissue.
  • Used to treat bug bites and stings.

Infusions
Ear Oil: Dilute a combination of tea tree, garlic, oregano, & lavender oil in olive oil and
infuse in ¼ cup of dried mullein flower petals.

  • Add a few drops directly into the affected ear. Use whenever an ear infection is suspected for pain relief and to reduce complications. Do not use if the ear drum is perforated.
    • Soothes earache and heals infection
    • Use to clean excess earwax out of ears

St. Johns Wort: infuse dried herb in olive oil.

  • Rub directly onto skin.
    • Soothes sunburn
    • Use for minor burns

Arnica: infuse dried flowers in olive oil.

  • Rub directly onto skin.
    • Soothes and prevents bruising
    • Reduces swelling
    • Relieves pain

Poultices
Grated Potato or Mud:

  • Put directly onto the wound. Keep it in place with a gauze wrapping
    • Draws out insect venom and sooth inflammation.

Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris):

  • Pulverize leaves in a mortar and pestle. Put this mash directly onto the wound. Keep it in place with a gauze wrapping
    • Used to heal bruises and wounds.

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale):

  • Cover the wound with muslin and lay the comfrey on top. (never allow it to come in direct contact with the skin.) You can use the leaf, but there is more healing power in the root.
    • Good for healing ulcers

Compresses
Keep squares of gauze or cheesecloth on hand to make compresses. Use comfrey, witch hazel, or arnica for sprains; St. John’s Wort for deep cuts, and comfrey or witch hazel for burns.

Sprays
Insect Repellent: Use essential oils (lavender, citronella, eucalyptus, cedarwood, lemon grass, and pennyroyal) suspended in a base of water and alcohol. Note: eating sugar and sweets increases your attractiveness to many insects! Caution: Although pennyroyal essential oil is widely used for insect repellants, It can be toxic even in moderate doses and should not be used by pregnant women. It is powerful and can effect people and pets in the vicinity of the user.

  • Apply liberally and frequently (as often as every two hours)

Other
Honey:

  • Useful as base for ointment due to preservative and antiseptic properties
  • Add to hot ginger tea to soothe sore throats

Beeswax:

  • good for adding to infused oils and essential oils to make salves and ointments.

Vodka:

  • use vodka or 100% grain alcohol for the purpose of making tinctures or as a disinfectant.

Sore Throat Remedy:

Use Sage (Salvia officinalis) and Thyme (Thyme vulgaris or T. serpyllum). Chop them up into a stainless steel saucepan, just cover with water and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain out the herbs and add half as much honey as there is water to sweeten and preserve the mixture. Pour into a dark jar and keep in the fridge for up to two months. Use the syrup as a gargle for a sore throat or coughs and colds.

Hardware

  • Capsulator
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Band Aids
  • Bandages
  • Ace bandages
  • ½ inch surgical tape
  • A small pair of scissors
  • A single edged razor blade
  • Tweezers
  • Cold pack (cools on impact)
  • 1 and 2 inch Ace bandages
  • Moleskin
  • An instant read thermometer
  • A bar of soap
  • A bandana
  • An eye cup (or shot glass)
  • A flashlight
  • Colloidal Silver
  • Safety Pins
  • Needles
  • Paper Cups
  • Baking Soda
  • Cotton balls
  • Q-tips
  • First Aid Guide
  • Hot Water Bottle
  • Matches
  • Tongue Depressors
  • Ear Scope
  • SAM Splint
  • Space Blankets
  • Salt
  • Paper & Pencil
  • Gel Capsules
  • A birth kit
  • A suture kit
  • A stethoscope
  • A blood pressure kit
  • A blood glucose monitor
  • An inhaler (in the case of a life threatening asthma attack)
  • A spring loaded epipen (in the case of extreme, life threatening allergic reactions)

For camping, backpacking trips, or for the car, pare things down to:

  • Arnica gel
  • Echinacea tincture
  • Peppermint and chamomile tea bags
  • Crystallized ginger
  • Insect repellent
  • A tin of herbal salve
  • A bottle of lavender oil
  • An assortment of bandages and moleskin.

Dosages for Children: Dosages for children are not provided in most herbals. To determine the correct dose you need to consider the size of the child, the ailment, the power of the herb you intend to use, and the adult dosage. Clark’s Rule for determining dosages divides the weight of the child by 150 to give the approximate fraction of the adult dose. Dosage for a 40 lb. child: 40 /150 = .26 or approx. 1/4 the adult dose.

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3 Comments

  1. Lori
    Posted March 21, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    i agree natural is much better and cheaper for us all….

  2. Posted March 21, 2010 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    Wow awesome information. I am currently in training to become an herbalist. We haven’t gotten to making an herbal first aid kit yet but I’m sure it will come up soon. I totally agree with minimizing doctor’s visits and not taking yucky drugs.

  3. Posted December 7, 2010 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    Great article.Thank you and keep up the great work on this
    site