Bay Leaf Tree

You never know when a first aid emergency will occur, especially with children. Anyone who spends time exploring outdoors is likely to experience a bump in the road, whether it’s a bee sting, an encounter with poison ivy or a scraped knee. Of course, there’s a lot of “ouch!” to say to paper cuts and minor kitchen burns too. Be ready to face such challenges –indoors and out – by making an herbal first aid kit.

All first aid kits should contain certain basic tools and necessities, like assorted bandages, adhesive tape, scissors and tweezers. Toss in a few sewing needles to tackle splinters. And you just never know when you’re going to need dry matches or a working lighter, do you? Now think about first aid items you’ll need in the form of herbal oils, liniments, salves and tinctures to complete your kit. Some of these items you may wish to purchase ready-made; others you can easily make yourself.

Then there’s the kit itself to consider – the container in which to hold everything securely and organized in one place. If you have an old box-type kit that needs refreshing, then this task may already done. If not, look around. Your local dollar store or craft store might have suitable containers, preferably those with compartments. Fishing tackle boxes, art and craft supply storage boxes, sewing boxes and even jewelry display cases are great choices.

Herbal First Aid Allies

Here are a few suggestions as to what to put in your first aid kit. Where noted, the formula to make an item follows this list.

  • Peppermint Liniment (formula appears below): For muscle strains and sprains
  • Aloe Vera Gel: For burns, sunburn, insect bites
  • Powdered Clay (French Green, Fuller’s Earth, etc.): Mix with a bit of water to make a paste to draw out stingers and splinters
  • Witch Hazel. Has antiseptic and antibacterial properties.
  • Mullein Cough Drops (formula appears below)
  • Comfrey Oil (formula appears below) Use to speed wound healing (do NOT use on open or infected skin).
  • Calendula Salve (formula appears below) Soothes minor irritations, such as rash and insect bites.
  • Rescue Remedy (Bach flower remedies are available online and in health food stores) Homeopathic preparations to ease anxiety, suitable for children and pets.
  • Arnica Gel (Topical preparations are available from health food stores): For bruises, sore muscles
  • Powdered Yarrow Leaf: Place a pinch on skin to stop bleeding
  • Lavender Essential Oil: For burns, insect bites, minor scrapes
  • Tea Tree Essential Oil: Antiseptic for wounds, rashes, etc.,
  • Assorted Teas (Don’t forget the tea ball strainer and mug!)
  • Upset stomach – chamomile, fennel seeds, all mints
  • Sore throat – sage, licorice, mullein, slippery elm
  • Cough & colds: eucalyptus, elderberry

Peppermint Liniment

Place the chopped peppermint into a clean glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Add enough witch hazel or rubbing alcohol to just cover the herbal material. Place the jar on a sunny shelf or windowsill for 4-6 weeks, shaking once each day. Strain the liquid into small, clean spray bottles. Stored in a cool, dark place, this preparation will last for years. 

Mullein Cough Drops

  • ½ cup mullein leaves, packed
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 1/3 cup brown sugar

Steep the leaves in the boiled water while covered, for one hour. Strain. Add brown sugar. Boil until the mixture reaches the soft candy stage, then pour onto a greased cookie sheet. With a butter knife, score out squares while the mixture is still soft. Allow to cool completely, then break into individual squares. Wrap each drop in waxed paper.

Comfrey Oil

  • 1 pint (roughly) sweet almond oil, olive oil or other oil of choice
  • ½ cup dried comfrey leaves

Place the oil and comfrey leaves in a glass bowl (or double boiler) and simmer over a pan of boiling water for 2 hours. Allow the mixture to cool; strain off the liquid into a clean mason jar. Cap and label the jar. This oil will last for one year.

Calendula Salve

  • ¾ cup sweet almond oil
  • ½ ounce grated beeswax
  • 10 drops calendula essential oil

Heat the almond oil and beeswax together in a glass bowl over hot water, stirring constantly to blend. Remove from heat and add the calendula essential oil. Stir well to combine. Pour the mixture into tins while still hot. The salve will set as it cools. When completely cooled, cap and label the tins.