Preparedness blog

First-Aid with Natural Remedies and Essential Oils

By Ready Expert
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You don't know when disaster will strike, and neither does the health care system. The emergency room may seem the epitome of preparedness, but Stephen Flynn, a former Coast Guard commander and author of The Edge of Disaster; thinks that medical care in the United States may be unprepared to cope with a catastrophic emergency, wide spread pandemic or a large terrorist attack.

During the economic downturn, hospitals have been doing what everyone else has been doing, says Flynn.

Natural Emergency First Aid"The medical community has been moving in the direction of much of our economy," he says, "which is wringing out the extra capacity in order to essentially focus on the bottom line."

In the event of a major crisis and the likelihood that you may not have access to immediate medical care, it is important to be aware of medical care that you can do yourself at home, especially with first aid. There are many natural and homeopathic first-aid treatments used effectively for thousands of years that are still accepted by the modern medical community as viable and effective treatments, especially ointments, tinctures, and salves using essential oils from many different plants. Essential oils are particularly useful in treating insect bites and stings, burns, and wounds - perfect for first-aid at home in an emergency.

Insect Bites & Stings

Few studies have examined the effectiveness of specific homeopathic remedies. A professional homeopath, however, may recommend one or more of the following treatments for insect bites and stings based on his or her knowledge and clinical experience. Before prescribing a remedy, homeopaths take into account a person's constitutional type. In homeopathic terms, a person's constitution is his or her physical, emotional, and intellectual makeup. An experienced homeopath assesses all of these factors when determining the most appropriate remedy for a particular individual.

Apis mellifica -- for stinging pains with rapid swelling and affected area that is warm to the touch; this remedy is most appropriate for individuals who feel better with cold applications; Apis is recommended if hives are present or ifLedum does not reduce pain or swelling after 4 hours

Hypericum -- for bites accompanied by sharp, shooting pains that often occur in sensitive areas, such as at the ends of fingers or toes

Ledum -- most commonly used homeopathic agent for bites and stings from bees, mosquitoes, wasps, or spiders; affected area is cold to the touch but cold applications or immersion in cold water improves symptoms

Staphysagria -- for children with large, itchy mosquito bites that may create large welts

Urtica urens -- for red, swollen bites with itching and stinging; may be used instead of Apis to treat hives

Some essential oils may help repel insects. Dilute the oil before applying it to your skin. Never apply pure essential oils directly. Avoid contact with your eyes. These oils include:

Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)

Clove (Eugenia caryophyllata)

Citronella (Cymbopogon spp.)

Neem oil or cream (Azadirachta indica)

Minor burns may be treated with herbs, but you should never take or apply any herb when you have moderate o severe burns. Call for emergency help first.

Herbs are generally a safe way to strengthen and tone the body's systems. As with any therapy, you should work with your health care provider to diagnose your problem before starting treatment. You may use herbs as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, make teas with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 - 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 - 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 - 4 cups per day. You may use tinctures alone or in combination as noted.

These herbs may be applied topically (externally) to minor burns:

Aloe (Aloe vera), as a cream or gel. Apply externally to the burned area, 3 - 4 times daily as needed, for soothing and healing.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis), or pot marigold, as an ointment or a tea applied topically. To make tea from tincture, use 1/2 to 1 tsp. diluted in 1/4 cup water. You can also steep 1 tsp. of flowers in one cup of boiling water for 15 minutes, then strain and cool. Test skin first for any allergic reaction.

Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) as a cream containing 1% of the herb, may help repair skin tissue.

Propolis, a resin created by bees to build their hives, has been used historically to treat skin wounds. One study found that people given propolis to apply to minor burns healed as well as those treated with silver sulfadiazine, a prescription ointment. More research is needed, however. If you use propolis for a minor burn, test skin first for any reaction.

Certain herbal remedies may offer relief from symptoms and help wounds heal faster. Herbs are generally available as dried extracts (pills, capsules, or tablets), teas, or tinctures (alcohol extraction, unless otherwise noted). People with a history of alcoholism should not take tinctures. Dose for teas is 1 heaping tsp. per cup of water steeped for 10 minutes (roots need 20 minutes), unless otherwise noted.

Applied to skin

Never apply herbs to open wounds unless under a doctor's supervision.

Aloe (Aloe vera), as a cream or gel. Aloe has been used traditionally to treat minor wounds and burns, but scientific studies about its effectiveness are mixed. In one study, aloe seemed to make surgical wounds take longer to heal.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis), or pot marigold, as an ointment or a tea applied topically. To make tea from tincture, use 1/2 to 1 tsp. diluted in 1/4 cup water. You can also steep 1 tsp. of flowers in one cup of boiling water for 15 minutes, then strain and cool. Test skin first for any allergic reaction.

Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) as a topical ointment to help wounds heal and fight inflammation.

Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) as oil or cream. Apply two times per day to reduce inflammation. Do not use tea tree oil to treat burns.

Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) as a cream containing 1% of the herb, to help heal wounds.

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita or Chameaemelum nobile), as an ointment or cream, to help heal wounds.

Echinacea or coneflower (Echinacea spp.) as a gel or ointment containing 15% of the juice of the herb.

Slippery elm bark (Ulmus rubra or fulva) as a poultice. Mix 1 tsp. dried powder in one of cup of boiling water. Cool and apply to a clean, soft cloth. Place on affected area.

Taken by mouth

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is an anti-inflammatory that makes the effects of bromelain stronger. Use dried extract 250 - 500 mg three times a day. Turmeric may increase the risk of bleeding. If you take blood-thinning medications such as warfarin (Coumadin) or aspirin, ask your doctor before taking turmeric.

Gotu kola helps the body repair connective tissue and heal wounds, and prevents a scar from growing larger. Use standardized extract 60 mg one to two times daily, or 60 drops of tincture three to four times per day. Do not take gotu kola if you have high blood pressure or experience anxiety. Do not take gotu kola if you have hepatitis or liver disease.

Coneflower and goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), used together, may help protect against infection. Use equal parts tincture 30 - 60 drops three to four times a day.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale, 2 - 8 g per day) is another herb with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It may help with wound healing, although there are no scientific studies looking at dandelion for wound healing. Be sure you do not have an allergy to dandelion, and avoid taking the herb if you have liver or gallbladder disease, diabetes, or kidney disease, or if you take blood-thinning medication.

Pycnogenol (Pinus pinaster, 200 mg per day), an extract of the bark of a particular type of pine tree, helps promote skin health.

Your Recommendations
So, what natural treatments have you used for fist aid at home? Let us know so we can benefit from your experience.

Thanks to the University of Maryland Medical Center for all their great information on Complementary Medicine

11 years ago
11 years ago at 9:51 PM
Apis is good for bee stings. You forgot ARNICA--excellent for bruising and swelling and a necessity in every kit. Ledum is "homeopathic tetanus" so should be taken when cut or punctured. Histaminum is "homeopathic benedryl"--excellent for allergies, quick asthma help some muscle and joint pain
11 years ago at 12:25 PM
Lavender essential oil is the only one you can safely put directly on your skin. All other essential oils should be cut with a carrier oil like almond or olive oils. Homeopathic remedies are great, have used them for over 40yrs. Definitely worth learning about for personal use.
11 years ago at 6:19 AM
Great for when we are in the woods and out. Thanks
Dan Terry
11 years ago at 12:25 PM
Probably my favorite oil has got to be peppermint. Whenever I get a sore throat I rub a small drop of it underneath my tongue and not long after that the sore throat is gone!
10 years ago at 6:30 AM
One of the best all-purpose solutions for treating everything from bacteria, viral infections, wounds, burns, etc is nanocolliodal silver solution and/or gel. It's not the old type that could turn the user purple. Learned about it from European german shepherd breeder who treats all his protection dogs with it...and his family. Commonly used in Europe.I tried it on my dogs, then on myself. You have to start treatment immediately after injury or illness, but wow. Has to rival most antibiotics. And it stores well.