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The All-Natural First Aid Kit

Don't Leave Home Without It.

As the weather warms up, many of us will venture outside for some outdoor activities. It is always a good idea to have a basic travel health kit on hand no matter where you travel even for a short trip. Every year millions of Canadians buy drugs and creams that are harsh overkill while there are simple, effective, inexpensive natural gentle alternatives to keep on hand for those unexpected (guaranteed to arise) problems.

Arnica has been popular for centuries. The cream or ointment made from the flower (Arnica  montana) can help relieve pain and/or inflammation in muscles and joints (e.g. sprains, bruises, joint pain). You can also easily make medicated oil by mixing a 1:5 ratio of arnica flower to vegetable oil and massage into skin evenly in affected areas up to 3 or 4 times per day.

Aloe vera gel was a staple in my house when I was growing up and to this day is used to help relieve minor burns and help the healing process of minor cuts and burns, sunburns, and minor skin irritations.

Headaches are a very common problem and can affect people of all ages at any time. Often people reach for over-the-counter drugs such as Advil or Tylenol to get relief but frequent use or overuse is hard on your kidneys and stomach. Sometimes you are just dehydrated, needing to drink some water. Rubbing peppermint essential oil or lavender essential oil can help soothe a tension headache by their vaso-constricting and vaso-dilating properties. Additionally, we often wait too long to seek relief. By then the pain is excruciating, forcing you to reach for high doses of harsh drugs. An ice pack wrapped in a towel placed on your head where it hurts for 15 to 20 minutes every hour can help relieve some of the pain.

Tea tree oil should be a staple in all homes because of its wide range of use, effectiveness and low cost. Tea tree oil can be applied topically to skin as a local antiseptic for minor cuts and abrasions, burns, insect bites and stings, boils and for skin infections such as acne, fungal infections, lice, scabies, athlete’s foot.

Dry chapped lips can happen anytime and are readily fixed with commercial lip balms that are often packed with unhealthy (and sometimes toxic) ingredients. Take virgin coconut oil from your kitchen and place it in a small portable container that you carry anywhere with you; it will help keep your lips hydrated, protected and it smells great too.

Ginger is another “jack of all trades” that can help with nausea associated with motion sickness and seasickness, digestive trouble and stomach upset.  It can be used as an expectorant and anti-tussive to help relieve bronchitis as well as coughs and colds. Ginger is available in dozens of forms but the best (and tastiest) is to use fresh ginger, slice it and leave it to steep in boiling water for 5 minutes before drinking.

Calendula from pot marigold (Calendula officinalis) not the marigold commonly found in gardens can be used topically in ointments or infusions to aid in wound healing and also help relieve / reduce skin pain and inflammation. You can also take Calendula orally to aid digestive upset or to help relieve inflammation in your mouth.

Witch Hazel is a topical astringent that can help treat cuts, scrapes, and abrasions of any kind. Dried Bark can be soaked in 250 ml of water, brought to a boil and simmered for 10-15 minutes. Let cool and apply as a compress to affected area(s) as needed. The compress can also lay over skin affected by varicose veins to temporarily reduce swelling and pain.

Zinc oxide is available in several forms and can help take care of a variety of mild skin conditions such as diaper rash, pimples and minor burns, including sunburn. There is no need to use ones that are fancy (usually with tons of chemicals providing no additional benefit). Stick to plain, simple (and inexpensive) pure zinc oxide cream. Zinc Oxide is one of the key ingredients in sunscreen formulations due to its ability to block absorption of damaging ultraviolet light.

Oil of oregano - the oil’s active ingredient “Carvacrol” has antimicrobial and antiviral properties and is highly effective against a broad range of infections. It is available in numerous strengths and in traditional liquids and capsules. When you start feeling sick simply take a couple of drops of the oil under your tongue or a capsule. Beginners should stick to milder forms, while experienced users can move to super strength liquids or super strength capsules.

There is no need to reach for harsh pharmaceuticals to solve your first aid needs. Other than the core consumables (bandages, gauze, splints, needles and alcohol wipes), you can turn to Mother Nature to mend and get you on your way.