The following is from the May/June '08 issue of The Essential Herbal. It was written by Betsy May, one of our regular contributors.
Getting Ready for Summer: Herbal First Aid and Travel Kits
With summer just around the corner, this is the perfect time to take stock of your herbal first aid kit or put one together if you don’t already have one. By putting it together now, you’ll be prepared for those summertime problems such as bug bites, stings, sunburns, cuts and scrapes, and other illnesses that arise during our more active summer lifestyle. As trips are scheduled and vacations are planned, it’s also helpful to have a travel herb kit on hand. It’s fun and empowering to be able to treat your family and friends with herbal remedies and even more exciting to see the look of amazement on their faces when the remedies actually work! (Of course, always exercise discretion when using these suggestions. They are meant for minor injuries only and are not meant to replace professional medical care.)
Items for an Herbal First Aid Kit:
Kloss’s Liniment: (see recipe at end of article) Kloss’s Liniment is a must have for the first aid kit. It kills bacteria, prevents and heals infections, can be used for all types of external problems such as cuts, ringworm, bruises, sprains, burns,sunburn, poison ivy, chicken pox, boils, and more.
Bach’s Rescue Remedy: Bach’s is wonderfully soothing and comforting for any type of trauma or stressful event.
Peppermint essential oil: Inhale peppermint essential oil to ease nausea and car sickness or when rejuvenation is needed.
Lavender essential oil: Lavender essential oil can be inhaled for anxiety and insomnia.
Rosemary Essential oil: A great trick I learned from Jeanne Rose to treat headaches is to apply a few drops of Rosemary essential oil to the temples and massage while sipping ½ glass of water with one drop of Rosemary essential oil in it. It works every time! Rosemary essential oil is also wonderful for sore, aching muscles.
Tea Tree Essential oil: This antiseptic oil can be used to treat cuts and scratches, acne, and fungus.
Yarrow leaves: Yarrow leaves can help stop minor bleeding. Apply to a cut just like a band aid.
Echinacea Tincture: Echinacea is very helpful for warding off and/or shortening the length of colds.
All-Purpose Healing Salve: (see recipe) This great all-purpose salve can be used for itchy scratches, bites and cuts, sores, cold sores, and even hemorrhoids. It speaks volumes for the quiet power of herbs.
Cold Care Capsules: (see recipe) This idea came from Rosemary Gladstar. These capsules are helpful to take when you feel a cold coming on.
Garlic infused olive oil: Garlic oil works wonders for earaches.
Herbal teas: I would suggest having a number of different blends for various illnesses such as respiratory illness, menstrual discomfort, digestive problems, and anxiety/insomnia. You could formulate your own blends or just buy a few boxes. Traditional Medicinal makes a great line of teas for all of these illnesses.
During Rosemary Gladstar’s apprentice program we talked a lot about the value of herbal remedies, both at home and while on the road. Penny, one of Rosemary’s assistants for the class, is known among her friends as being a “world traveler” and she shared a lot of great herbal travel tips with us. Unfortunately, since September 11, traveling with herbs and tinctures can raise suspicion, therefore it is best to have everything in one small bag, clearly labeled if made by hand or in the original packaging if brand name. Another thing to keep in mind if you are flying on an airplane is that you can now carry only 3 ounces of liquid in a container due to homeland security rules. One other tip from Penny: if traveling internationally, especially to third world countries, is to take a Steri Kit. A Steri kit is basically your own IV & syringe kit if you need to go to the hospital. In some countries these supplies are not always sterile so having your own is a good precaution to protect against blood born diseases. Again, it is a good idea to have Steri kit that is officially labeled so you aren’t questioned about why you are traveling with syringes! Steri kits are available from many companies on the internet.
Digestive issues can often be a problem when traveling, either due to overindulging on rich foods, too much take out, or if in a foreign country, from bacteria we are not used to here. There are several items to take with you to be prepared for stomach ailments.
Capsulated ginger powder: Ginger capsules are easier to take than trying to make ginger tea and it works the same for nausea.
Bitters: Bitters aid the digestive process and can help if constipation becomes a problem. Penny also shared that she found out her bitters double as an insect repellant! I plan to try that out this summer.
Blackberry Tincture: Blackberry tincture is great for diarrhea.
Smooth Move tea from Traditional Medicinals: I’ve found it is much easier to pack a few tea bags than to take loose herbs and then try to find a way to brew and strain them. This tea works wonders for constipation.
Other items to include are: Alacer’s Emer’Gen-C packets: These little individual serving size packets are powdered vitamins, especially high in Vitamin C. Just add water and you have a fruit flavored drink. They are great for extra energy, when you are feeling run down, or to help fight off colds. I discovered them several years ago in a health food store and was delighted to find that Rosemary Gladstar also recommends them.
Chamomile tea bags: Chamomile tea is an excellent remedy for stressful situations and to help with insomnia that can come from being in a strange place or a different bed.
I would also recommend the following items that were mentioned for the first aid kit:
Kloss’s liniment, Bach’s Rescue Remedy, All-Purpose Healing Salve, Echinacea tincture, and Lavender, Rosemary, Peppermint, and Tea Tree essential oils.
2 ounces gum myrrh
1 ounce goldenseal
½ ounce cayenne pepper
Mix herbs and cover with one quart of rubbing alcohol. Let it stand for a week or 10 days, shaking every day. Do not take internally.
Cold Care Capsules
Mix equal parts of goldenseal, echinacea, myrrh powder, and slippery elm bark. Fill “00” size capsules with the herbs. Take two capsules every two hours.
All-Purpose Healing Salve
¼ ounce St. John’s Wort
¼ ounce Comfrey Leaf
¼ ounce Calendula flowers
6 ounces olive oil
2 Tbs beeswax
Peppermint essential oil
Combine the herbs and olive oil & simmer 25 minutes; strain herbs. Add beeswax, stir until melted. Add about 20 drops of Peppermint essential oil. Pour into containers and let cool.
Betsy May is a Certified Holistic Health Practitioner and Yoga Instructor with a love of all things herbal. She can be reached at betsy.may @hotmail.com