Make Your Own Herbal First Aid Kit

I took Holistic Herbal Wellness with Savayda in 2014, and one of the most useful things we learned was how to assemble a herbal first aid kit. Because we learned how to make tinctures and infused oils in the course, I knew how to make some of these items myself after the class, and there are also some items on the list that are worth buying. They’re easy to find at most natural health stores. 

Minor injuries like cuts, bites, burns, bruises and sore muscles can happen to anyone at any time, so it’s a good idea to start assembling these items to cover all the bases. 

Start collecting these herbal remedies now so you’ll be prepared for any minor injuries or discomforts.

Rescue Remedy

A commercially available blend of Bach Flower Essences, available in dropper, spray, or lozenges. For shock, emotional and physical, and stressful situations like dentist visits. Take 4 drops immediately, followed by regular dosing until the situation has stabilized. It can be rubbed onto a person who is injured or in shock and can’t take medicines orally, and can be used topically on pets and with house plants. 

 

Arnica cream Arnica montana

An arnica cream or gel is good to have on hand for bruises, sprains, recovery from operations, dental work etc. It can also be used after mental strain and heart strain.  Can help with back pain. Take 2 tablets every two hours for shock or injury, and even after surgery.

 

You can find Arnica products that are either homeopathic or that contain extracts. I like the Weleda Arnica cream because it has a high percentage of wild-crafted Arnica, but many people also get great results with a homeopathic cream. Traumeel is a popular homeopathic brand. 

 

Tea tree oil Melaleuca alternifolia

Antiseptic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal. Use on cuts or sores, directly or diluted in a carrier oil.  Also use as a mouth rinse or gargle, douche, sitz bath. Wipe for preventing and soothing bug bites.

 

Ginger capsules or tincture Zingiber officinale

Use for nausea or motion sickness, stomach flu and morning sickness. 1-2 caps or 20 drops tincture before traveling. Valuable for cramps of any kind and indigestion. Combine with other remedies for fever, colds and flu.

 

The tincture is easy to make with the folk method. Fill a jar ¼ full of fresh ginger, fill the jar with vodka or brandy. Steep for 2 weeks. Strain out the ginger pieces. Put your tincture in a dropper bottle and keep some in the car in case of motion sickness. 

 

Echinacea tincture Echinacea angustifolia, E. purpurea

Use at first sign of cold or infection by taking 30 drops, undiluted, on the back of the throat, every hour, until symptoms subside, up to ten times a day.

Can be used topically for inflammation of the skin, skin infections, bites, stings, cuts, and infections.  Dilute 60 drops tincture in ¼ cup of water and use as a wash or compress.

 

Ear oil Verbascum, Hypericum perforatum, Allium sativum

Infused oil of mullein, St.John’s wort, and garlic.  Infuse the oils separately so you can use them for other purposes, and then combine as needed for earache. For earache warm the oil in a double boiler and use 3-5 drops in each ear.  Lie on one side and rub the area outside of the ear. It may be helpful to apply heat outside the ear.

 

Shepherd’s Purse tincture  Capsella bursa-pastoris

For minor bleeding, that is non-life threatening such as nose bleeds, minor cuts, bleeding gums. Apply the infusion as a compress.  ½ cup of the tea, or 60 drops of tincture can be taken, up to 6 times daily. 

 

Topically: To use as a wash, dilute 30 drops of tincture in ½ cup water

Internally: Take 30 drops every hour until bleeding stops. A cup of the tea is also helpful.

Honey

For burns cover area immediately and leave on until pain subsides (approx. 30 minutes)

 

Fresh Plantain   Plantago major

It’s hard to keep this one in a herbal first aid kit because it is really best used fresh as a poultice. So instead of your herbal first aid kit, keep it in your herbal first aid garden or just leave it growing in your lawn so you’ll always have some on hand. Use it on bug bites, bee stings, burns and cuts and scrapes. To make a poultice, chew a few fresh leaves into a pulp, place this moist leaf pulp directly on the injured/bitten area and wrap in gauze. Keep on the skin for a few hours, re-applying as needed. 

 

Lavender Essential Oil  Lavandula angustifolia

A versatile addition to any herbal first aid kit, lavender essential oil can be used topically to help many ailments, including burns, cuts, bruises, sunburns, itchy skin, and cold sores. It also does double-duty because of its aromatherapeutic effects. Lavender is renowned for its ability to relieve stress and anxiety, and promote relaxation. Since you may be a little stressed or irritated if you have an issue that requires a first aid kit, it’s nice to include lavender to soothe your mind. 

 

If you’d like to learn how to forage wild medicinals, infuse oils, and make tinctures, you’ll love Savayda’s 1-year Holistic Herbal Wellness course. 

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Medicinal Benefits of Culinary Herbs

medicinal culinary herbs cover

 

Did you know that most common culinary herbs also have medicinal benefits?

 

Enliven your food with easy-to-find fresh herbs this summer. Fresh herbs often have a more potent flavour than dried herbs,  and, not only do they taste great, they’re also very nutritious. They are loaded with biologically active compounds, and they’ll add a boost of vitality to your daily diet. Many are used as medicines by modern day herbalists, it makes one wonder where to draw the line between food and medicine. 

 

When cooking with fresh herbs, the leaves should be bruised by rubbing them in your hands before chopping or snipping with scissors. They are best added to the pot a few minutes before the dish is done, or sprinkled over food before it is served; fresh herbs lose their flavour if cooked too long. To store, roll the herbs in a wet paper towel inside a plastic bag, and leave in the crisper of the refrigerator for up to one week. With the herb left over from your recipes, add a handful to your teapot and become further acquainted with their unique characteristics.  

 

Medicinal Benefits of 10 Culinary Herbs

 

Thyme Thymus vulgaris

Research has determined that of the 75 known phytochemicals found in thyme, 25% are antioxidants. A valuable medicinal food, this herb contains a flavonoid that counteracts the activity of dietary carcinogens formed during cooking. Medicinally, it is used primarily to treat respiratory complaints such as bronchitis, asthma, cough due to colds, and sinus congestion. It is also used for topical bacterial and fungal skin infections. The tea makes a good mouth rinse and gargle. It is of value in gastrointestinal disorders including dyspepsia, colic, flatulence and diarrhea. Extracts of thyme have demonstrated significant inhibition of Helicobacter pylori, thus it is used in the treatment of peptic ulcers.

 

Parsley Petroselinum crispum

It is a shame to see this nutrient-dense herb regarded as a mere garnish, because parsley has many medicinal benefits. It is one of the richest food sources of vitamin C, and also exceptionally high in magnesium, calcium, iron, and chlorophyll. Parsley leaves make an excellent breath freshener, especially to combat garlic breath. It is beneficial to the urinary system, and is used for bladder and kidney complaints. Its diuretic action can be applied to conditions such as gout and rheumatism to facilitate the removal of uric acid from the joints. The leaves eaten with any meal help prevent gas. 

Safety: It is not to be used medicinally when pregnant.

Here’s a fresh tabouleh recipe from Cookie & Kate.

 

Sage Salvia officinalis

This herb is useful as a gargle for sore throat, laryngitis and mouth ulcers.  It provides relief to singers who have strained their voices. Digestive aid, memory aid. 

Due partially to its estrogenic properties, it is used to relieve the night sweats and hot flashes of menopause. For this it is best taken as a cold infusion. To make, steep 1 tsp. herb in one cup boiled water, covered for 10 mins. Strain and drink 1/2 cup 3 times daily, or as needed. 

Safety: It is not to be used medicinally when pregnant or in epilepsy. Reduces milk flow in nursing mothers.

 

Fennel Foeniculum vulgare

Like most of herbs with high volatile oil content, it acts as a carminative – a remedy for gas pains and flatulence. It is a treatment for upper GIT disorders with gas, nausea, belching and heartburn, and for IBS and colitis, and is an excellent remedy for babies with colic. Fennel is a galactagogue, which means it increases milk flow in nursing mothers. It is also useful for cough, and used internally and externally to improve eyesight and to treat inflammatory eye disorders such as conjunctivitis.

Instead of after-dinner mints, India has something called saunf ( fennel) or mukhwas (mouth scent), that is a mix of candied seeds, featuring fennel seeds. You’ll often see a little dish of this near the register in Indian restaurants, and it’s common to take a spoonful to freshen the breath and aid digestion after a meal. 

 

Cilantro   Coriandrum sativum

Coriander and cilantro are the same plant, but where we are, the leaves are usually called cilantro, and the seeds are known as coriander.

It is cooling in nature, thus a good summer seasoning.

Cilantro is a chelator – it binds with and removes heavy metals from the body. It is also carminative and diuretic. Add the leaves at the end of cooking, or use plenty of raw cilantro as a garnish in Latin American or Tex-Mex cooking. It’s also used in Indian cuisine as a garnish. 

This creamy sauce from Oh She Glows (my favourite cookbook, btw) made with fresh cilantro is a unique addition that goes well with Latin American dishes. 

Many people either love or hate cilantro. Did you know that genetics play a role this strong reaction to it? A particular genetic trait makes cilantro taste like soap to some people. This trait is less prevalent in people of Latin American, South-East Asian, or Middle Eastern descent, explaining its relative popularity in those cultures.*

 

Oregano Origanum vulgare

This herb originates from the Mediterranean region; it becomes more pungent with more sun, and is popular in Italian and Greek cooking. Greek cooks believe it is best used dry, and in fact is the only herb worth drying. It is used medicinally for indigestion and as an antiseptic wash, and is heating and a diaphoretic. Bees and butterflies love its flowers.

 

Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis

A powerful medicine – improves blood flow to the brain, hence its usefulness as a memory aid, it is uplifting, anti-depressant, helpful for headaches, aids liver and gallbladder  function, strengthens blood vessels and is used to treat arteriosclerosis. Use it as an infused oil as a scalp massage for hair loss and rub for sore muscles.

 

Garlic Allium sativum

It is a potent antibiotic and immune stimulant and is useful for respiratory conditions, digestive disorders, cardiovascular disease, and cancer prevention. It is my first choice as an antibiotic; bacteria do not become resistant to its powers. Not only does it destroy bacteria, but it is also anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic.   

To unlock the anti-cancer benefits,it is best crushed and let sit for 15 minutes. This causes an enzyme reaction that boosts the beneficial compounds.  It’s best eaten raw for medicinal use.

 

Turmeric Curcuma longa

Preventative and treatment for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Anti-inflammatory for RA and OA, eczema, psoriasis, asthma. Improves gastric and liver function, hyperlipidemia.  Antioxidant. High doses not given in combination with anticoagulant drugs.

Turmeric has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years for its anti-inflammatory effect. 

If you like Indian cuisine, you probably already eat a lot of turmeric, but if you’d like to increase your intake, a popular way to take it is in a hot beverage. It is fat-soluable, so you want to take it with fat, and black pepper increases its bio-availability. 

Here’s a yummy vegan Golden Milk recipe   to get your turmeric in the most effective delivery. I use coconut oil or MCT oil in mine, and you can also add a pinch of cayenne if you like the heat.

 

Basil Ocimum basilicum

Contains high levels of vitamins A and C. Used for nervous irritability and has anti-depressant effects. It eases indigestion, stomach upset and nausea. Stimulates milk flow for nursing mothers. The fresh juice has been used to treat warts and bug stings. A pot of basil in the kitchen is known to discourage flies.

Here’s a refreshing summer recipe for Blueberry Basil Lemonade. Basil might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you want to make lemonade, but you’ll love this. 

*Source: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-09-genetic-link-cilantro-coriander.html