You might think that since my husband is a paramedic, we have an elaborate first aid kit with all sorts of tape, bandages, creams and supplies for treating all sorts of emergencies. While those items and more can certainly be found in the back of his ambulance, our first aid kit is far from elaborate. In fact, it’s pretty simple.
Over the years, we’ve been able to simplify and consolidate our first aid kit so it contains a few multi-purpose natural remedies. I also love that our first aid kit creates little waste (which can’t be said for kits you’ll find in stores).
If you’d like to make a similar kit, I suggest the following:
Yarrow – This pretty little herb is a styptic, which means it has properties that promote clotting to stop bleeding. I keep yarrow flower in a small bottle and shake it onto cuts, then apply pressure with a bandage of some kind. The bleeding stops very quickly. I also infuse yarrow into ointment for the same effect.
Antibiotic ointment – Many herbs offer powerful antibiotic properties (many are antiviral and antifungal as well). I keep a healing balm on hand that also acts as an antibiotic ointment. You’ll find the recipe below.
Homeopathic arnica - This is a great remedy to use in many first aid scenarios, including sprains, strains and exhaustion. Homeopathic arnica can even be used to help treat shock, which can happen with uncontrolled bleeding. It’s recommended to take some with any first aid incident.
Aloe vera – This plant is great for soothing sunburns and other minor burns. I like to snip off a piece of my plant for burns but store-bought aloe vera gel is also very soothing and will keep longer in your first aid kit.
Lavender essential oil – I first read about this remedy a few years ago and unfortunately have been able to test it many times since then. It works. After I get a burn, typically on my fingers while cooking, I quickly apply lavender essential oil, which helps relieve the pain. I then apply some of my healing balm, which has arnica, for pain relief.
Frankincense essential oil – I love this essential oil for bites and stings! I’m allergic to mosquito bites and frankincense helps control the itching and swelling. It also quickly relieves the pain of a bee sting.
Plantain weed – Plantain, one of the most wide-spread “weeds” in the world, is an herb that is used to soothe the skin and sore throats. It also provides great relief for bug bites and stings because its astringency creates a cooling effect. You might not always be able to find fresh plantain nearby, so I recommend keeping dried plantain leaves in your first aid kit. (See what it looks like here.) All instances I’ve read about using plantain leaf involve chewing on the leaf and applying it to the affected area. If you don’t want to chew it, I imagine you could squish it up a bit with your fingers and get it wet before applying it.
Apis 12c – This homeopathic remedy is recommended as an anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine. It is useful for many symptoms brought on by allergies, including:
- Swelling of tongue, lips and eyelids
- Sore throat
- Hypersensitive and anaphylactic shock from allergens including chemicals, antibiotics and certain nuts
- Adverse reactions to insect bites and stings
Arnica balm – I have a confession. I like bruises. I think they’re cool. I even wanted a black eye as a kid. (Ok, obviously I didn’t think about how I would have to get that). But when I accidentally pulled over several sheets of RV paneling onto my leg, I figured I needed to do something about the bruises or they’d be there for a long, long time. Enter arnica balm. Arnica montana is great for relieving pain and helps bruises heal very quickly. Here’s a simple recipe for arnica balm.
Some other items to include
- First aid bag or box – pick something sturdy and portable to keep your first aid supplies in
- Toilet paper - A few squares at least. We use ½ a square to roll into a “plug” for nose bleeds. Before inserting into the nose, we roll it in an ointment infused with yarrow which speeds clotting. (The yarrow ointment is a recent discovery I wish I’d known about years ago.)
- Safety pins
- Bandages – Choose smaller squares and larger rectangular bandages. I prefer cloth so we can wash them and reuse them. You can cut up old t-shirts to use as bandages, and cloth pre-fold diapers are great because they’re so absorbent.
- Water bottle – I like to have a small bottle full of water in case I need to wet a cloth or bandage or if I need to rinse off a dirty injured area.
- Homemade hand sanitizer – I prefer hand washing with soap and water, but this homemade hand sanitizer is great in case you need to dress a wound or something but can’t wash your hands. (You can use components of the first aid kit and healing balm to make it!)
- Lozenges – Try making some of these herbal throat lozenges for scratchy sore throats and dry coughs.
Healing antibiotic ointment
I’m a minimalist and I really like multi-purpose remedies. So instead of putting several different balms in my first aid kit, I make one that serves as an antibiotic, styptic and healing balm.
- 4 oz shea butter (find it here)
- 3 oz coconut oil – after herbs have steeped, add enough coconut oil back to make the total weight of the oils 7 oz again – (find it here)
- 1 Tbsp calendula flowers, packed tightly (find calendula flowers here)
- 1 Tbsp comfrey leaf (find comfrey leaf here)
- 1 Tbsp arnica flowers, packed tightly (find arnica here)
- 1 Tbsp yarrow flowers (find it here)
- 1 Tbsp plaintain leaves (find it here)
- 1 Tbsp beeswax or candelilla wax (find waxes here)
- 5 drops tea tree essential oil (find it here)
- 5 drops lavender essential oil (find it here)
- 1/8 tsp Vitamin E oil (find it here)
Turn your oven on to 200°. When it’s warmed up all the way, turn it off. While it’s warming, melt the coconut oil and the shea butter in an oven-proof pan on your stove top. Add the herbs and move the pan into the oven. Let it steep there for at least 4 hours.
Tare a container on your kitchen scale. Strain the infused oils into this container. Add coconut oil until it equals 7 oz. again. Rinse out the pan you used before and put the oils back in there.
Warm the infused oil up on the stove top and add the wax, stirring until melted. Remove from heat and stir in the essential oils and Vitamin E oil. Pour into a clean container with a lid, label and store in a cool place.
Do you have a DIY first aid kit? What’s in yours?