Your Natural First Aid Kit
By Dr Lisa Watson, BHSc, ND
Summer for my family means lots of time spent outdoors. Local splash pads, the beautiful Toronto Beaches and our annual trip to Algonquin provincial park. With all this activity we are sure to experience our share of scrapes, bumps and bruises. But as a naturopath and a momma, I like to be prepared!
In addition to the conventional first aid supplies (bandages, alcohol, gauze, tweezers, etc.) I like to bring along a naturopathic first aid kit stocked with everything we need to support our adventure-filled lifestyle!
Bumps, Bruises and Blisters
- Arnica 30C – a homeopathic remedy for all bumps and bruises. Safe for everyone from babies to grandparents. Speeds healing time and decreases pain.
- Arnica gel (or Traumeel®) – a topical version of the arnica homeopathic. Arnica has anti-inflammatory and circulation-stimulating properties. Apply directly to sore muscles, sprains, strains, bumps and bruises to speed healing and decrease pain. Do not apply to broken skin.
- Witch hazel – apply witch hazel directly to a blister to dry it out, then cover with a bandage. Once the blister is dry, apply calendula cream to speed healing.
Cuts and Scrapes
- Calendula cream – marigold flower, also known as calendula (Calendula officinalis) is a wonderful herb with astringent, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties. Apply to cuts and scrapes (not to open wounds) to prevent infection and speed healing. I recommend Weleda’s Calendula Diaper Care cream – a thick cream with a high calendula content (I always have this on hand for diaper changes as well!). Do not use if you have a ragweed allergy.
- Hypericum 30C – a homeopathic remedy for deeper cuts with stinging nerve pain. Use for puncture wounds, deep cuts or any time you have sharp shooting pain.
- Tea tree oil – a broad spectrum antimicrobial that can be used as an antiseptic for cuts and scrapes as well as for acne, fungal infections, and athlete’s foot. Apply a 10% tea tree oil directly to wounds to prevent bacterial or fungal infections. If you get a sore throat you can apply a few drops to a handkerchief or bandana and inhale deeply two to three times per day to treat sore throat. Do not take internally.
- Aloe vera gel – cooling and healing, aloe vera gel soothes the inflammation of sunburn, speeds healing and decreases the severity of peeling after sunburn. Of course, sunscreen should always be used and reapplied frequently. Choose a safe sunscreen from http://www.ewg.org/2013sunscreen/.
- Glonoinum 30C – a homeopathic remedy for sunburn, sunstroke and headaches from sun exposure.
- Ginger tea or ginger Altoids – best for nausea, motion sickness or indigestion. Drink ginger tea hot or cold or suck on ginger Altoids for fast relief.
- Peppermint tea, peppermint Altoids and Enteric Coated Peppermint Oil (ECPO) – peppermint is soothing to the digestive tract and is very effective at relieving gas pains or indigestion. Use peppermint tea or peppermint Altoids for general indigestion or take ECPO to relief gas pains.
- Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL) – used for heartburn. Chew one or two tablets as needed or 20 minutes before meals.
- Nux vomica 30C – a homeopathic remedy for over-indulgence. Take for nausea, vomiting, headaches or other symptoms of hangover. Remember to remain well hydrated if you are indulging in alcohol at the cottage or campground.
- Lavender oil – a multi-purpose essential oil, lavender is analgesic (decreases pain), anti-spasmodic, and mildly sedative. For headaches, apply lavender essential oil to the temples and rub in gently. Apply to sore muscles to relief muscle spasms. Place a few drops on your pillow to fight insomnia. Do not ingest.
- Coconut water – dehydration and electrolyte loss are major concerns for anyone planning to spend time outdoors during the hot summer months. In addition to drinking abundant water, coconut water contains a high concentration of potassium, minerals and antioxidants. It is ‘isotonic’ – meaning it has the same level of electrolyte balance as we have in our bodies. It is delicious and will rehydrate faster than water.
- Emergen-C – an easily absorbed vitamin C supplement that can be added to water. Provides 1g of vitamin C, electrolytes, 24 nutrients and 7 B-vitamins. Comes in small, easy to carry packets.
- Bach Rescue Remedy – you never know when anxiety, frustration, fear or other bad moods are going to strike. Rescue Remedy is a blend of flower essences that calm the mind, ease stressful transitions (like the long drive in traffic to the cottage), and provide relief from stress or emotional fatigue.
- Chamomile tea – calms the mind and relaxes the body. Drink hot or cold. Safe for children. Can also relieve indigestion. Apply a warm chamomile tea bag over a bruise, black eye, insect bite or other irritation to soothe and decrease pain and swelling.
- Essential Oils – there are several essential oils that have been tested and found to be effective insect repellants. Vanilla, lemongrass, lavender and sandalwood are all good choices that can repel most insects and decrease the risk of getting bitten. Put a few drops on your skin near pulse points or on the cuffs of your shirt and pants. You can read more about natural insect repellants on my website. Remember to reapply frequently – every 1-2 hours.
Dr. Lisa Watson is naturopathic doctor practicing at IHI. She has a special clinical interest in pre-natal health and kids & teen care. Look for more of her writing on her personal website, www.drlisawatson.com or follow Dr. Watson on twitter.