Your Natural Summer First Aid Kit
From stings and bites to cuts and scrapes, summer is the season for your trusty first aid kit. If you find that your kit holds little more than bandaids it might be time to re-stock. Based on a peek into my own first aid kit, I have listed and described the items that I find to be the most necessary for first aid.
Tea Tree Oil
Every kit should contain a bottle of tea tree oil. An essential oil extracted from Australian Melaleuca plant, it has a long history of use in first aid, primarily because of its powerful anti-septic and anti-fungal properties. Its main use is to cleanse minor cuts and scrapes to prevent infection. After washing a wound with soap and water, apply one or two drops directly onto the affected area. Direct application to the skin may cause irritation, so you might want to try a single drop first, dilute the tea tree in another oil such as olive oil, or buy it as a diluted spray. Note that tea tree oil should only be used externally.
Calendula Salve can be used to facilitate healing of cuts and scrapes. Apply this salve after the area has been washed and treated with tea tree oil. Its anti-microbial and ant-inflammatory properties will help to keep the area clean, reduce pain, and will increase the rate of healing. Note that while very effective for minor ailments, it is best not applied to deep wounds.
Arnica gel is a great all-purpose topical treatment to help relieve pain and facilitate healing. Use it to treat bruises, strains, and over-worked muscles. Apply topically once, twice, or three times per day, as needed.
Essential Oil Bug Repellent
Another must-have is a natural bug repellent. Common essential oils for this purpose include: citronella, eucalyptus, geranium, cedar, and pine. A few drops of the concentrated essential oil can be rubbed directly onto your skin and/or clothing. David Suzuki offers this recipe as an effective combination you can make at home. Or, if you prefer commercially prepared sprays, look for options at your local health food store.
And just in case the bugs still bite, carry a small amount of baking soda with you (a couple tablespoons in a ziploc bag is perfect). When needed, make a paste by adding a few drops of water to 1/4 tsp baking soda. This paste can be applied to relieve itching due to bug bites.
For calming in any stressful situation, you can include a small bottle of Rescue Remedy, a mixture of several flower essence remedies which work together to help cope with stress. Many people find it effective at calming tears or reducing shock after an injury. A single dose of one or two drops under the tongue is often all you need, but depending on the situation, you may decide to keep taking it every 20 to 30 minutes.
Finally, I have always had tweezers in my first aid kit. They are great for removing slivers, or for cleaning dirt out of a superficial wound. This year I’m upgrading and am adding a pair specifically designed for tic removal. This model is available from Mountain Equipment Co-Op. I imagine any hiking or camping supply store would have something comparable.
For a more extensive kit, you can include homeopathic remedies. Part 2 of this post describes the top remedies and how to use them.
I hope you won’t need any of these remedies this summer. But if you do, you’ll be glad you packed them. Safe travels and happy trails.