Herbs you need in your first aid kit

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Did you realize that many of the prescription medications currently on the market predated natural and conventional remedies?

For ages, over 53,000 plant species have been used in Chinese, Indian, and Arabic herbal medicines to treat the sick, elderly, and dying in their own communities. Long before there were modern pharmaceuticals, these civilizations’ and countless others’ folk remedies used plants and their extracts to create botanical medicines to promote health and treat illnesses.

In addition to using whole plants, herbal therapy also uses plant parts such seeds, berries, leaves, fruits, roots, bark, and even flowers.

There have been written records of plant-based medicine for at least 5,000 years. The authors of Historical Perspective of Traditional Indigenous Medicinal Practices: The Present Renaissance and Conservation of Herbal Resources stated that the Sumerians “identified well-established medical usage for such herbs as laurel, caraway, and thyme.” The researchers added that more archeological study provides evidence that the use of herbal medicines extends back at least 60,000 years in Iraq and 8,000 years in China.

For instance, Pao-Zhi is a well-known Chinese medical system with a history of almost 2,000 years that includes particular therapies and is supported by research.
Almost 8,000 different herbal kinds are among the Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM) products that are currently exported by China to more than 130 nations worldwide.
Among the more than 50 CHMs that make it to American shores are licorice, turmeric, frankincense, rhubarb, eucommia, cloves, ginseng, and wolfberry.

Indian Herbal Medicine (IHM), commonly known as Ayurveda, was developed between 6,000 and 4,000 BCE during the Buddhist era and continues to be the cornerstone of basic healthcare for 70% of India’s population today.
The functions of numerous plants are painstakingly described in the Rig Veda and the Atharvaveda, Vedic Sanskrit hymns in Hindu literature, as well as the Bhava Prakasha (the most relied upon text relating to herbs and plants according to contemporary Ayurvedic practitioners).
The books were translated and modified by neighboring nations, the Greeks (300 BCE), and Persian and Arabic medical professionals (700 CE).

chinese herbal medicine

The development of modern medicine in Europe was influenced by Islamic or Arabic Herbal Medicine (AHM), which dates back to the period between 632 and 1258 CE, the birthplace of science and medicine.

As the Ancient Arabs built their physicochemical “pharmacy,” they took methods from Chinese “alchemy” such evaporation, filtering, distillation, sublimation, and crystallization.
The Arabs in the area were attributed with being the first in history to “separate medicine from pharmacological science,” and it is believed that the first drug stores in the world were discovered there (Baghdad, 754 CE). (Source: NIH).

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Mesopotamian clay tablets written in cuneiform date back to 2600 BCE, while the Ebers Papyrus, which dates to 1500 BCE, is still the most well-known Egyptian medical record.
It listed 700 medications, most of which were derived from plants.

History has proven that natural remedies not only predated those of the Western medical systems currently used for first aid and a myriad of other uses, but also served as the foundation for traditional medications.
This, along with the alarming side effects and effects of some over-the-counter drugs, are the main reasons why herbal medicine keeps growing in popularity.
Many people want to go back to the beginning.

101 First Aid

First and foremost, you know your body better than anyone else, so we advise you to ask yourself these questions (below) while you prepare for your first aid kit.

  • Do you specifically deal with pain?
  • Do you have issues with digestion or sleep?
  • Do you frequently have blisters, headaches, or sore throats?

Below we have listed some of the most common ailments and classic suggestions of natural remedies that help the general needs.

Your basic kit should also have the following items in addition to the herbs listed below: cotton swabs, tweezers, cleaning wipes, adhesive bandages, surgical tape, packet of tissues, non-adhesive bandages, and gauze. Provide those as a backup if there are any other medical items that you absolutely must have due to your condition or another factor. If you frequently experience severe allergies, you may also wish to include paracetamol, tablets for allergy relief, hydration sachets (select your favorite electrolyte from the many available now), antibiotic creams, and other items. Again, think of particular needs you have, or might have in moments of small or potentially bigger emergencies.

Common first aid needs include, but are not limited to:

  • Scrapes, bruises, cuts
  • Digestive upset (nausea, cramping, etc)
  • First sign of cold / cough symptoms
  • Fluids to relieve heat stress or dehydration
  • Headaches (including migraines)
  • Parasites
  • Insect bites 
  • Pain, cramps, muscle spasms, etc.
  • Minor burns (including blisters and sunburn)
  • Panic attacks, anxiety, shock
  • Skin conditions: rash, eczema, herpes outbreaks, etc.

Before you reach for that aspirin or rush to the hospital, consider whether or not your illness or injury can be treated with a holistic remedy from nature’s pharmacy. Of course, in urgent cases or if you’re uncertain about your symptoms/situation, immediately defer to a qualified healthcare professional. But many common needs also have common cures.

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What’s in an Herbal First Aid kit?

Emergency preparedness doesn’t just have to come in the form of a store bought case. You can start by working with what you can get, and make it your own by choosing what you feel or know is essential for you and for your loved ones. If you live somewhere hot, you’ll want to protect yourself from dehydration and other sun-related illnesses. If mosquitoes are abuzz near you, scroll down for some essential post-bite relief.

Here are the top remedies our herbalists recommend you carry or have access to at all times, including some plants to stock up on for travel, for pregnancy, and more.

*There are many variables as to how to prepare the medicines below. Depending on your needs, and preference it can range anywhere from tea, tinctures (alcohol based extracts), glycerinates (vegetable glycerin based extracts), salves, and much more. 


Internal Use: Homeopathic form helps to relieve muscle pain, stiffness, swelling, and discoloration from bruises

External Use: Cream or salve treats muscle pain, bruising, and sprains


Internal Use: Antiviral, vulnerary, and anti-inflammatory 

External Use: A skin super tonic used for cuts, scrapes, burns, and rashes


Internal Use: Pain reliever, mild sedative

External Use: Topical analgesic


Internal Use: Anti-parasitic, antiviral, anticandidal, detoxifier 

External Use: Treats herpes blisters, relieves insect bite pain and itching

*Excellent in combination with activated charcoal for internal or external. 


Internal Use: The “golden root” can protect against parasites, alleviate tooth and muscle pains, and prohibit sore throat and fungal infections like canker sores

External Use: Treats herpes blisters, relieves insect bite pain and itching


Internal Use: For short periods of time, it can help with bone healing.
External Use: Wounds, ulcers, sprains, strains, and pain.


Internal Use: Anti-viral, anti-microbial, antiseptic, wound recovery + helpful after bites, stings, and allergies, in addition to food poisoning/bacterial infection


Internal Use: Prevents and treats colds and upper respiratory infections


Internal: Digestive relaxant, excellent for GI disturbances, indigestion, diarrhea, anorexia, motion sickness, and nausea. Assists children with colic, fevers, and coughs.

External: Antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-fungal. 


Internal Use: Antibiotic (due to berberine), helps fight infections, and can aid with digestive stress like traveler’s diarrhea
External Use: Apply to cuts or wounds to stop bleeding; tea can be used as an eyewash to soothe eye irritation

*Be sure to source Golden Seal only from farms that responsibly and ethically cultivate it. Do not support unethical wildcrafting as it’s in extinction.


Internal + External Use: One of the greatest pain relievers, which can be used as a topical or internal analgesic *Avoid excessive use, use mindfully.


Internal Use: Daily multivitamin and mineralizer used for repair and strength; also supportive for the womb during menstruation, pregnancy, and more.


Internal Use: Anti-inflammatory often used to ease coughs, mucous, and membrane irritation
External Use: A poultice can be chewed (or the leaf mashed) to apply to bites, stings, burns, cuts, and scrapes


Internal Use: Relieves headaches, stomach pain, and can help break a fever

External Use: Use a tea bag or compress to relieve irritation, heat, or itching


Internal Use: Powerful antiviral and antimicrobial used to fight off viruses and infections; can also be used as a nervine to soothe the nervous system
External Use: Due to its antibacterial properties, it is used for a variety of conditions, including but not limited to: arthritic joints, burns, sunburns, stings, wounds, and other skin irritation 


Internal Use: Fights infection, stimulates sweating, and lowers fever; also strengthens circulation and blood flow and relieves digestive stress and cramps
External Use: A true heal-all, excellent for wounds (a coagulant), antiseptic, antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal; topically used to staunch bleeding, treat cuts, scrapes, burns and rashes or for varicose veins/rheumatic joints 


Internal Use: The “origin of aspirin” is a powerful anti-inflammatory, pain reliever, and antipyretic to have on hand at all times


Internal Use: One of the Amazon’s most treasured Antivenom. Also a powerful antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic. Used as mashed raw root in water, or as a decoction. 
External Use: Applied as a poultice topically over snake bites and wounds.


Internal Use: Nervine, hypnotic sedative, calms hysteria from trauma or shock. Must be used as a decoction or extract to experience its full effects

*Remember to source, and study, as much as possible from your own surroundings and direct ecosystem. Oftentimes we’re in need in unexpected moments, and its vital we also source key allies from your environment. Study and explore away!*  



Remember to always dilute essential oils in another carrier oil prior to applying directly on the skin. You can use essential oils by adding into salves, creams, liniments, or in smelling salts. 

  1. Lavender – antiseptic, antiinflammatory, stress relieving
  2. Tea Tree – has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antifungal properties
  3. Thyme – has anti-viral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties 

There are many, many more that are not included here, but this is a great start to cover all the basis of what you might need when on the go, or as a back-up at home. 

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