Create a Natural First Aid and Illness Kit
Herbs and at-home remedies can be overwhelming. Where you do begin? What do you absolutely need to get started? It was not like this for me when I first began, meaning that I did not have a definitive list of what I needed and what I wanted to necessarily heal or fix for my family. It was always when we got hurt that I wanted a better solution than reaching for the Neosporin or Tylenol. Over the past three years, I’ve learned more about these natural items (as you know, I share them here) and began to notice patterns for many of the issues that I wanted to heal. I’m often reaching for the same ingredients over and over again. I thought that it might be nice to have a simple list of the best and most often used herbal remedies for first aid and common illnesses. If you are just diving into natural healing, I suggest this as a place to start when it comes to what to stock up on. You may not know exactly what you want or what you need to fix, but everyone experiences little incidents like this on a weekly basis: cuts, scrapes, burns, sore throats, headaches, sleepless nights, tummy aches, and sore muscles. This list will help you to easily treat these things at home!
Herbs for a First Aid Kit
Activated Charcoal. If you have a case of food poisoning, illness in the intestine, vomiting diarrhea, etc try reaching for activated charcoal. The best way to take this remedy is through charcoal capsules. It also works as a hangover cure, or you can even take it before an evening of drinking to help. Drink lots of water when taking charcoal!
Cayenne Powder. You can take cayenne powder in a few different ways, capsules being one. It can be taken internally to help relieve heart attacks as a way to increase blood flow and clear blockage. It is also useful during illness to speed recovery. Externally, cayenne can help stop bleeding rapidly.
Chamomile. Chamomile is always an herb that you should have on hand. It is mild and works well, especially for small children. This is one of the few herbs that can be given to infants under one-year-old. Make a tincture to use for children that are ill, having trouble sleeping, colicky, or have teething gums. If you have pinkeye, try making dried chamomile flowers into a poultice and place on the closed eyelid every hour for 10-15 minutes. If you need to relax, drink as a tea or soak with dried flowers in the bath.
Comfrey. Comfrey is a controversial herb, though it can work wonders for injuries and broken bones. It is literally know as the “bone knitting” herb. Use this exclusively externally; use at your own risk internally and in small doses. Place a poultice made with comfrey and plantain on wounds. This will reduce healing time and prevent/reverse infection. You can also add this to a homemade healing salve to use on insect bites, minor cuts, bruises, poison ivy, and minor burns.
Eucalyptus (herb and essential oil). If you are experiencing respiratory issues, reach for the eucalyptus! This is the main active ingredients in vapor rubs. It works well as a facial steam that you can easily make over the stove and will help greatly ease sinus congestion or sinus problems. If you use the essential oil, dilute with coconut oil and apply externally to the soles of the feet and chest to help breathe easy.
Ginger (fresh or cut and dried). My mom suffers from terrible motion sickness, so we are constantly reaching for the ginger to make a simple ginger tea. I did not realize until recently that they make ginger capsules, so that is something we may have to try next time we take a flight somewhere. Ginger is one of the most well known remedies for nausea, acid reflux, uncomfortable stomach, and morning sickness. Soothe the stomach after food poisoning by making a steaming cup of ginger tea.
Peppermint (herb and essential oil). This is another herb perfect for digestive issues. If you have an upset stomach, make peppermint tea. I tend to lean more on this side because I am not a fan of ginger at all! Use a tincture internally or externally for nausea and illness in the digestive system. It usually works best when paired with other herbs. If you use the essential oil, dilute with coconut oil and apply to the soles of the feet and behind the ears to relieve headaches and nausea. Do not use on children under the age of 3 as peppermint has an extremely high percentage of menthol. You can use spearmint instead.
Lavender (herb and essential oil). This is usually on everyone’s list for an at-home remedy, but it truly is an amazing herb to have on hand! Not only is it functional but is also mild and can be used on young children. Lavender essential oil is antibacterial, antiseptic, and antispasmodic. It can help reduce chance of infection if applied to cuts and abrasions. Other external uses include reducing pain, headache relief, and easing of cramps. Apply the essential oil diluted in coconut oil to the temples for head pain or directly to the area in pain (i.e. cuts and minor burns, bruises, bites, etc). Use internally in the form of tea.
Calendula. We use calendula quite a bit in our house! It is one of the best options to use on the skin to heal and rejuvenate. They have astringent, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Use a calendula tincture as a wash for wounds or take internally to relieve menstrual cramps, ulcers, upset stomach, fevers, and support the liver.
Arnica. This is a cream that you can make yourself but is most often to be purchased commercially. It is used topically to reduce muscle pain or injury, bruises, and any type of trauma to the body. It reduces healing time by multitudes. Do not use internally or on open cuts/broken skin.
Lemon Balm. I use this more than you think! Lemon balm is antibacterial therefore it makes a great remedy for cold sores and other mouth issues. Use in a tea or create a salve to apply externally. It can also improve cognitive function, ease restlessness, and reduce stress.
Cloves (spice and essential oil). Need a pain reliever? There’s nothing I love using more than cloves! Be careful, as high dosage could have negative effects. I also use cloves in my cold sore salve to help reduce pain in and around the mouth as it numbs your gums, mouth, and teeth. It is antibacterial and can help tooth infections from spreading.
Licorice Root. If you have a sore throat or need help speeding up digestion, try drinking a cup of licorice root tea.
Other Helpful Ingredients
Apple Cider Vinegar. Is there anything apple cider vinegar can’t fix? Keep a bottle on hand with “the mother” to use for indigestion, food poisoning, heartburn, reflux, fevers, flus and colds. Take it in doses, by 1 teaspoon per 8 fluid ounces of water every hour. You can take a shot of it everyday to help prevent flu/colds from happening as well!
Aloe Vera Gel or Juice. Use aloe vera gel or juice to relieve inflammation. Treat sunburns and minor scalds and burns by applying to the area every hour.
Epsom Salt. When injured, sore, or ill it can really help to take an epsom salt bath. Dissolve in warm water and use on your entire body (do not take internally) or soak areas that need extra love like your feet or hands. It can apparently also help remove splinters if you soak the area where you have one!
Hydrogen Peroxide. You definitely need this if you want to be prepared to clean out wounds, prevent/treat ear infections, and relieve respiratory illness. Place a dropper full of hydrogen peroxide in the ear at the first sign of infection or to help clear out blocked ears. Leave in the ear for 20 minutes and let drain out before applying to the other side.
Witch Hazel. I love witch hazel! Use on cuts, scrapes, and for cosmetic issues like acne or scarring. I usually pair this ingredient with other things to help. Do not take internally.
Baking Soda. If you have heartburn or a urinary tract infection, reach for the baking soda. Take 1/4 teaspoon internally or create a paste for a poultice to use on insect bites.
Probiotic Capsules. Have you heard the having healthy gut flora can solve almost all of your health related issues? I use these probiotics paired with enzyme capsules from doTERRA. They are amazing! They actually have a lot of digestive health related capsules that are spectacular. I love using them. Probiotics are helpful to use when recovering from illness and food poisoning. You can also improve skin conditions and relieve ear infections.
Coconut Oil. The oil of a million uses! We always have coconut oil in the house. Use it to dilute essential oils, create salves, apply to broken skin, condition hair and lips, or simply eat a spoonful a day for a regular digestive system. Either way, you need this or a different carrier oil if you plan to make any healing recipes at home!
Beeswax. Is this necessary? Not always. But beeswax is often used in our home for various reasons, the main one is that I need it for just about any salve, balm, or rub recipe that I use. It is the solidifying agent in those recipes and is necessary.
We are truly lucky that where we live many of these ingredients are readily available. The Amish community uses holistic healing more often than western medicine, which I find fascinating, and it was the small country stores around here that got me started thinking I could purchase these ingredients easily. You can also find them online pretty easily. We do sell herbs, though we have lessened our variety online. Soon locals will be able to shop our dried herbs grown on the farm at our own Country Store! If you do not live nearby, I always suggest Mountain Rose Herbs. They have a great selection and source ethically. Interested in essential oils? I do sell doTERRA and could not recommend them more! If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or send me a message. I am happy to help!
Which herbs and/or essential oils do you often find yourself reaching for in first aid situations at home? Something different from what I included on this list? I’d love to hear about it!