Herbs For First Aid Kits: Natural First Aid Remedies

Before becoming an herbalist, I spent many years as a paramedic in a large city. After retiring from that career, I eventually made my way into herb farming and herbalism. Being a paramedic taught me all I needed to know about the human body, how it works, how medications work within the body, how important preparation and quick response is, and how to stabilize and heal the body with allopathy. Being an herbalist has taught me how God’s creation has given us so many amazing herbs that can help the body, mind, and emotional state to heal in a way that allopathic medicine could never do.

Allopathy and herbalism are equally powerful but in very different ways. There’s a time and a place for each of them. Allopathy is the only option in my opinion for an emergency situation. Asthma attacks, heart attacks, traumatic injuries, diabetic emergencies, altered mental status, serious abdominal pain, pediatric emergencies, etc…those require allopathic medicine. Herbalism is amazing at helping to prevent issues, maintain health, and help the body regain health. Because there’s a balance to both approaches, it makes sense to have a first aid kit that represents both sides of the coin.

There are a lot of options for getting started building an herbal first aid kit. Everyone’s first aid kit will look different. For our family, I want to be prepared for anything that could become an emergency situation. For us, that means asthma and gut emergencies need to be considered. Having a good representation of supplies is important of course. We can go over that in another blog post. This one is for your herbal first-aid stock-up. The 10 herbs that I’m sharing with you here, are herbs that can be used for a variety of situations. From skin injuries to gut illness, these herbs are must-haves in our family’s herbal first aid kit.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Yarrow flowers

Yarrow is a wonderful multipurpose herb. It has over a dozen anti-inflammatory properties, diaphoretic, styptic, astringent, bitter, febrifuge, antimicrobial, anti-spasmodic, and anti-catarrhal (expels mucus from the body) properties. All of which can be helpful in a first aid kit.

The styptic property of yarrow helps to slow and stop mild to moderate bleeding, and cleanse the area with its antimicrobial property and can be used fresh directly on a wound. It can also be dried and pulverized into a styptic powder for later use.

The diaphoretic and febrifuge properties are why I always keep yarrow tinctured as well. These properties help the body to clear illness-causing pathogens by inducing sweating and as a result, can help to clear a fever.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

Its ability to promote cellular healing is what makes calendula a top skin-healing herb. As an addition to our herbal first aid kit, we’re looking at the antiseptic and antimicrobial properties of this plant for its topical uses. My preferred method of preservation for skin application is to make an herbal-infused oil with dehydrated calendula flower and oil.

Herbal-infused oil can be used as a base for multiple topical remedies or can be used directly on the skin for abrasions, small open wounds, minor injuries to the skin, eczema outbreaks, burns, minor cuts, etc. 

It can also be used internally in tea or tincture form to help soothe the gut.


calendula plant

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)

flowering comfrey plant

Comfrey root is a rockstar for supporting the healing process in skin, bones, and connective tissues. It grows super deep roots that allow it to pull several different minerals that are helpful during the healing process.

In our herbal first aid kit, I keep comfrey in salve form. Applying it topically stimulates cell growth. If you are concerned about broken bones, it’s important to seek allopathic medical treatment first. Applying comfrey to a suspected broken bone could cause it to heal incorrectly. 

Taking comfrey internally is not advised. Comfrey root is best for external use only. The pyrrolizidine alkaloids it contains are toxic to the liver.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Lavender is my go-to herb for minor burns, including sunburns. Its antibacterial, antifungal, and analgesic properties make lavender essential oil a must-have.

For on-the-go purposes, I stock lavender oil in two different ways:

1. Straight lavender essential oil: For burns from a hot surface, I apply this directly to the burn site without dilution. It’s important to note that you should NOT use a lavender rollerball that has been made with a carrier oil. Oil should not be placed on these types of burns or you risk infection.

2. Mixed into vitamin E cream: For sunburns, this is my go-to remedy. Lavender essential oil in a vitamin E cream promotes fast cellular turnover, offers some pain relief, and can help prevent blistering and further skin damage.

**Side note: Adding aloe vera to this cream makes a very soothing herbal remedy.

 

lavender plant and flower

Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)

Marshmallow plant and flower

Marshmallow is one of the most soothing herbs and is a great addition to any herbal first-aid kit. All of the parts of this herb are full of a slimy substance called mucilage. Mucilage helps to balance the mucus membranes in the gut, respiratory, and urinary tracts.

This is one of the herbs you would reach for if you have constipation, a dry cough, sore throats, inflammation in the lungs, an inflamed urinary tract, and even topical skin irritation. It can be made into a poultice or a salve for topical use. For ingesting, the aerial parts can be used in a standard infusion. However, when working with the roots, the mucilage amount is much higher. That means that a cold infusion approach should be used, or, you can tincture marshmallow root for a more shelf-stable and portable option.

Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)

Peppermint is famously used for calming an upset stomach. It has antacid, anti-emetic, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic properties, and is a good digestive tonic.

We keep peppermint tincture in our herbal first-aid kit for fast help with nausea, heartburn, and gas pain. This herb has also been incredibly helpful for my child who suffers from motion sickness.

For some people, peppermint is helpful for headaches as well.

Be aware: if you have a reflux disease, there is a possibility that peppermint could cause an increase in your symptoms. 

peppermint

Elecampane (Inula helenium)

Elecampane root in a bowl

Aptly nicknamed, “the Robitussin of the herb world” elecampane is remarkable at clearing thick mucus from the lungs. It has antiseptic, bitter, diaphoretic, and expectorant properties that all support the respiratory system. 

Specifically used for chronic irritation, inflammation, and infection, it helps to thin and loosen the mucus associated with it so you can easily expel it.

Elecampane makes an excellent cough syrup as well as a very powerful tincture.

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

Chamomile’s anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, bitter, carminative, and nervine properties make it an excellent addition to our herbal first aid kit. This incredible herb is often used to calm the nerves but is also a powerful option for nervous stomachs, gas and bloating, and colic in babies.

Its antiseptic property makes it good to have on hand for eye washes, mouth rinses, and topical application to promote healing. If you have young children who may contract pink eye, or suffer from cold sores or mouth ulcers, keep chamomile stocked to use as a compress.

 

chamomile plant

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)

elderberry plant
Of course, we can’t have a good herbal first aid kit without a solid antiviral and immune system boosting representation. Elderberry is an obvious great choice. However, syrup isn’t the only option for it. The downside to elderberry syrup is it requires refrigeration. Elderberry tincture creates a more shelf-stable option that is also more potent than syrup.

 

Elderberry works by preventing some viruses’ replication. Because of this, the life span of the illness can be shortened. Be cautious when using elderberry if you have an autoimmune disease. Some autoimmune diseases can be worsened if you take an immune-boosting herb such as elderberry.

Plantain (Plantago major)

Plantain has a lot of uses. This year I learned firsthand how helpful it can be in repairing lung tissue after being around wildfire smoke. Its astringent property helps to knit the damaged tissues back together, which in turn helps to soothe irritating coughs. For respiratory use, harvest wild and dry to preserve it for later use.

It also has a powerful anti-venom property that helps to break down the venom injected into you from bug bites and bee stings. For this purpose, there’s no need for you to harvest and preserve it ahead of time. The best application for bites and stings is to harvest it wild. Simply identify the plant, pick a few leaves that are clean and free of pest damage, chew it up until it has a paste-like consistency, and apply it to the affected area. It may need to be reapplied every 20 minutes or so, but it makes a very effective remedy for wound healing, insect bites, stings, and inflamed skin.

plantain

As you curate your own herbal first aid kit, remember to consider your own needs and what you need to be prepared to handle. Herbal remedies are a wonderful addition to a first aid kit and they can help you be prepared for situations that a basic first aid kit cannot help you with. These 10 herbs, though they are some of my favorite herbs, are merely a starting point and only some of what our family has used and relied on for years with great success.


Wanna learn more? Check out this YouTube video where we dive deep into these 10 herbs you can use to stock your herbal first aid kit.

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