Herbal First Aid Kit
Aloe – break off an aloe leaf and scrape the get to soothe minor burns, scalds and sunburn. Aloe has tissue regenerative properties and will help heal all wounds.
Arnica – arnica cream or oil can be used on bruises or sprains where the skin is not broken. Caution should be used with arnica however since it can be toxic in high doses.
Calendula Cream – homemade or store bought, this is an antiseptic and antifungal. If you make it, try adding comfrey to the cream; it will help speed the healing process.
Clove Oil – clove oil is an excellent antiseptic for cuts and is also useful for treating toothaches. It should be cut with a carrier oil when used on the skin since severe irritation can occur.
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, comfrey or witch hazel for burns.
Crystallized Ginger – chew for motion sickness or morning sickness.
Eucalyptus Oil – This is a good inhalant for colds, coughs, and respiratory infections.
Rescue Remedy – This combination of 5 of the Bach Flower Remedies is effective for shocks and emotional upsets, especially in children.
St. John’s Wort – excellent for minor burns and sunburn.
Slippery Elm – slippery elm powder is used to make poultices for drawing out splinters and bringing boils to a head.
Tea Tree Oil – antiseptic and antifungal. Useful for cleansing wounds.
Witch Hazel Extract – use it to treat minor burns, sunburn and insect bites. Apply to nasal passages to stop nosebleeds. Wash cuts with it to help cleanse them.
Compress – soak a soft cloth in a hot infusion, decoction, or 5-20ml tincture in 500ml hot water. Squeeze out excess water and hold pad against affected area.
Cream – a mixture of fats and water that blends with the skin to strengthen and smooth it. Use 30g lanolin, 10oz beeswax, 100g vegetable or fruit oil and 30ml herb water. Melt the lanolin and beeswax in a double boiler, gently stirring in the oil. Remove from heat and whisk in the herb water. Keep stirring as it cools. Store in wide mouth jars.
Decoction – made by simmering larger pieces of the herb, such as bark, roots or twigs. Use 30g dried or 60g fresh herbs to 750ml water; simmer until the water is reduced to 500ml. Drink 1/2 cup three times a day.
Hot infused oils – 250g dried or 500g fresh herbs to 750ml olive or vegetable oil. Heat gently in a double boiler for 3 hours. Strain through cheesecloth into dark bottles
Cold infused oils – pack a large jar with the herb. cover it with cold-pressed oil and put the lid on. Let stand in a sunny window sill for 2-3 weeks. Squeeze the oil through a jelly bag and repeat the process. Store in dark glass bottles.
Infusion – a tea made by pouring boiled (no actively boiling) water over fresh or dried herbs. Use approximately 30g dried or 75g fresh herbs to 500ml of water. Drink 1/2 cup three times a day.
Macerate – to make, pour 500ml of cold water over 25g of hers and leave to stand overnight. Then strain and use as you would a decoction.
Massaging oils – use 5 drops essential oil to 20ml carrier oil. Sweet almond, jojoba, avocado or grapeseed make good carrier oils. You can also use infused oils.
Ointment – a mixture of oils and fats that forms a protective layer over the skin. Melt 500g petroleum jelly or soft paraffin wax in a double boiler. Add 60g dried her and simmer gently for 2 hours. Strain through a jelly bag and pour into jars while still hot.
Plaster – wrap the chopped or boiled hers, or a paste made from then, in cheesecloth or muslin before applying to the affected area. This is good for hers that might irritate the skin, such as mustard.
Poultice – boil herbs in a little water for a hot poultice, or bruise or chop slightly for a cold one. Smooth a little oil on the skin to keep the herbs from sticking, apply the herb, and wrap in muslin or gauze strips.
Steam inhalants – place a few tablespoons of the dried her in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Drape a towel over your head and breath in the steam.
Syrup – an infusion or decoction preserved by adding sugar or honey. Use 500ml infusion to 500g sugar or honey; heat gently until the sweetener has dissolved. Store in dark glass bottles with cork tops; screw top bottles may explore if the mixture ferments.
Tincture – steep the fresh or dried herb in a 25% mixture of alcohol and water. Do not use methyl, grain or rubbing alcohol as they are toxic. Vodka is ideal; run has the added benefit of covering unpleasant flavors. Use 200g dried or 600g fresh herb to 1 liter alcohol and water. Place in a sealed jar in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks, shaking occasionally. Strain the liquid through cheesecloth and store in a dark glass bottle. Take 5ml three times a day, diluted in a little fruit juice or water.
Tonic wine – pour 2 liters good quality wine, preferably red, over 500g dried herb, making sure all the herb is covered by the wine. Cover and leave for 2 weeks. Strain and take in 1/3 cup doses.
Wash – a tea or infusion meant only for external use. A mild form of a wash would be 1/4oz of herb to one pint boiling water, steeped until lukewarm, then applied.