My Holistic “First Aid” Kit-Essential Oils Herbs & Homeopathy

The variety of choices for a holistic first aid kit is quite exciting for the DIY’er in you and goes well beyond essential oils. Just about anything can be handled well with holistic remedies, and there are a plethora of options. I will be going over at a few of those options today. If we have the choice of handling things at home and to not have to travel to a doctor’s office where there is oftentimes a myriad of germs, let’s give it a go, right? I think it is important to understand when getting medical care is needed, but it is not always needed.

 

Homeopathic Medicine

What is homeopathic medicine? The word homeopathy, which comes from the Greek language, through Latin, and into English, means “like disease”. The guiding principle of homeopathy is stated as “let likes cure likes” (1). The foundation of homeopathy states that if a substance can cause disease in healthy people it will cure those same similar symptoms in sick people. It can be compared to a vaccine, without all the additives that are very much a health concern. Homeopathic medicine comes in varying strengths, but they are all considered the “minimum dose”.

“Homeopathic medicines are prepared through a series of dilutions, at each step of which there is a vigorous agitation of the solution called succus on until there is no detectable chemical substance left. As paradoxical as it may seem, the higher the dilution, when prepared in this dynamized way, the more potent the homeopathic remedy. Thereby is achieved the minimum dose which, none the less, has the maximum therapeutic effect with the fewest side effects” (2).

It is important to note that there are literally hundreds of varieties of single doses and mixed doses of homeopathy. If one type is not working for you, it does not necessarily mean that homeopathy does not work, but that you do not have the proper remedy. And much like essential oil, homeopathy is not a simple fix for any ailment; it is meant to be complementary care.

I have a homeopathic kit with me at all times of varying sizes. I have one kit in my home, one in my car and a few vials in my purse. The top remedy used in those kits is Arnica Arnica Montana. I use 30c, as it is perfect for my kids. Arnica is most often used for bruises, sprains, and inflammation. My boys are rough and tumble and both avid soccer players, so I combat large bruises by using this remedy at the time the bump happens, and a good 24 hours after.

The second vial I always carry with me is Nux vomica, also at 30c. “Strychnos nux-vomica is tree native to India and is a medium-sized tree with a short thick trunk. It is a major source of the highly poisonous, intensely bitter alkaloids strychnine and brucine, derived from the seeds inside the tree’s round, green to orange fruit” (3). When this is diluted down 10 to the 60th power, as in the case with a 30c dose, it is perfectly safe for use. But what is it used for? Nux vomica is used for overindulgence of food and drink. Have you eaten too much and are suffering from indigestion? Nux vomica is a great remedy to try.

Want to learn more about homeopathic remedies? Check out the information listed in the resources below.

*Want to know what dilution to go with? Follow this link for more information.

Herbs

I utilize my large storage space of herbs in a variety of ways in the home. I make many infused oils that sit in mason jars soaking up the summer sun like Arnica Arnica Montana, Rose Hips Rosa canina, and Calendula Calendula officinalis. During the months that the sun is a bit farther out of reach, I utilize my crock-pot on the keep warm setting. I like soaking dried calendula flowers in an apricot carrier oil, sealing in a mason jar and placing in the sun a few hours daily (With calendula and any other herbal material, make sure it is fully dry to avoid spoilage). The jar should stay in the sun for an average of 4 weeks, shake often and continually make sure that there is no moisture present. Strain well, using cheesecloth and pour into sterilized bottles. Calendula infused oil is great for inflammation and pain, as well as scrapes, scratches, burns and bites. I use this oil as a base for many of my other products as well. Calendula can be incorporated into baths, creams, compresses, washes, salves, ointments, massage oils, baths, facial steams, tinctures, and teas. It is also gentle enough to use for babies, children, or animals (4).

Infused oils are not the only way I use my herbs. Tinctures are useful winter remedies that can be used in a variety of ways. We use an Echinacea Echinacea purpurea tincture frequently throughout the winter months. I make this at home in the beginning of August by placing my raw herbal material into a small jar and covering with vodka. I shake the container every day for 3-4 weeks, strain it well and pour into a new sterilized jar. Echinacea is my first go to for the entire family at the first sign of sniffles or coughs, and is my number one weapon when my boys begin school in September. One dropper full in their fresh squeezed orange juice is a great immune booster. I typically use it for 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off throughout the winter/early spring. If someone is sick, however, I use it every day until symptoms subside. Other herbs that can be used in this way for school-aged children is Astralagus Astragalus propinquus and Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis.

*It is important to note that Echinacea is not recommended for those with auto-immune disorders or are on medication to suppress the immune system, such as chemotherapy for example. The purpose of Echinacea is to boost white blood cells. Click here for a mention on the subject of echinacea and Lupus from the Johns Hopkins Center.

Herbs are also used as teas and decoctions (strong teas) in the home. I have a nice trio that I call my fever blend for both my kids and myself. I only reach for a true fever reducer such as Ibuprofen when my boys are completely miserable. The following trio is all diaphoretic herbs, either stimulating or relaxing, and the goal of them is to relax you as fevers make you uncomfortable and to help you sweat, but not urinate excessively causing possible risk of dehydration.

Mix equal parts:

Catnip Nepeta cataria
Chamomile Matricaria chamomilla
Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis

Use as needed (1tsp per cup of tea). Make a weak tea for children.

Follow this link to learn more about diaphoretic herbs and why they are useful for managing a fever (Bulk Herb Store).

 

This next remedy would definitely not be a first aid kit item for on the go, but if dehydration is a worry through a fever or flu where you or a loved one is vomiting or has diarrhea, this is a wonderful homemade concoction that everyone will love. (I do not recommend Pedialyte types of drinks). I make some the following concoction if the flu rears its ugly head in our house. It is approved by both my 9 and 11-year-old boys.

1 quart filtered water
Juice of 2-3 lemons (can add limes too if you so choose)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. sea salt (not table salt)
1/3 cup raw honey

Not for children under 1 year of age

I typically take a small portion of that quart of water and heat it up. Add the honey and salt to that so it mixes the honey and dissolves the salt easily. Then add it to the remaining water. This tastes good and has exactly the balance you need to restore electrolytes and prevent dehydration.

* You can use pure coconut water. It works great, although it can be an acquired taste for some.

Elderberry Syrup for the Home

I am not a proponent of flu shots, so I do what I can to shorten the length of it if it happens to make its way into the home. Elderberry syrup can be purchased at your local Walgreens or CVS, but I prefer to make my own. It is easy to do, give it a try! Here is what you will need:

2 cups Elderberries Sambucus nigra dried (I prefer organic)
5 organic cloves
2 organic cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp organic raw ginger
1-2 tbsp organic dried echinacea (optional)
4 cups Purified or distilled water
Raw honey (add as much volume of honey as your liquid volume of elderberry syrup after simmering)

*Not for children under 1 year of age.
*Vegans can utilize agave syrup as a replacement for honey.

Directions:

Combine all ingredients except the honey and bring to just under a boil (do not boil). Reduce to a low simmer for about 30 minutes, mixing every 10 minutes or so. Remove from heat. Strain through a cheesecloth (I typically strain twice to make sure I get out all my herbal material). Be sure to squeeze out the juice from the berries. Measure your liquid and add an equal amount of honey. Place your pot back on a low simmer to fully soften honey and mix well. Let cool a bit then add to your glass bottles (sterilize bottles). Store in the fridge and use up within a month’s time as this has no true preservation system.

Want proof that elderberry syrup is effective? Here are a few research papers for your review:

*Kong F. Pilot clinical study on a proprietary elderberry extract: efficacy in addressing influenza symptoms. Online Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacokinetics. 2009;5:32-43.

*Roschek B, Fink RC, McMichael MD, et al. Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro. Phytochemistry. 2009;70:1255-61.

*Ulbricht C, Basch E, Cheung L, et al. An evidence-based systematic review of elderberry and elderflower(Sambucus nigra) by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. J Diet Suppl. 2014;11(1):80-120.

*Zakay-Rones Z, Thom E, Wollan T, Wadstein J. Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. J Int Med Res. 2004;32:132-40.

I utilize this syrup in any instance where the immune system needs a boost, not just for flu. It is a very effective cough remedy, too!

There are many other ways to utilize herbs in the home as a means to comfort, boost the immune system, and help encourage a speedy recovery from a variety of ailments. Check the resources below for some great reading material.

 

Essential Oils

I am a stickler for essential oil safety, so I will not be recommending applying essential oils to scrapes/cuts, or to use them undiluted. If your child has a scrape, a great option would be raw honey (manuka) or calendula crème from Weleda. You can purchase this European based crème at Target. Calendula will create a covering over the wound and is very effective in preventing infection and encouraging healing (5).

I keep a bottle of Lavender Lavandula angustifolia with me at all times, typically diluted to 3%. Lavender supports mental wellness, so it can be used in a variety of ways from just a simple case of grumpy gus, an overly stressful moment, or something unexpected like an accident, to bumps and bruises, burns, bug bites, and more. I usually do not use a roller bottle in this instance, as it is likely not going to be used by only one person, therefore contamination is a concern. Apply where needed. If you are utilizing it for mental wellness, inhalation is best.

At home, if there is a minor injury that has a bigger potential for bruising, I have a mixture of Helichrysum Helichrysum italicum and Kunzea Kunzea ambigua that I apply immediately to the area (Both are safe for kids). These two oils can work together to minimize bruising, reduce pain and discomfort and encourage speedy healing.

If I am at home and there is a bellyache present, I tend to use a weak tea of chamomile and peppermint to soothe and comfort. If I am away from home, I have an inhaler ready to go with essential oils such as Cardamom Elettaria cardamomum, Ginger Zingiber officinalis, and Spearmint Mentha spicata. You can rub into the belly appropriately diluted, but I find inhalation to be more effective here.

 

Closing

I hope that these basic ideas are helpful for you to begin to make your own first aid kit, one for home and one for when your away. There are many other things that can be utilized, what would you include in yours?

 

References

(1) (2) What is homeopathic medicine? Retrieved from http://homeopathyusa.org/homeopathic-medicine.html

(3) Strychnos nux-vomica. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strychnos_nux-vomica

(4) Healing with Calendula, (2010) Retrieved from
http://mountainroseblog.com/healing-calendula/

(5) Calendula, a wound healing herb Retrieved from

Calendula: A Wound Healing Herb

Herbal Resources

Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief by D. Winston 


Botanical Safety Handbook, 2nd ed. By AHPA (American Herbal Products Association) 


Healing Wise (Wise Woman Herbal) by. S. Weed 


Herbal Antibiotics, 2nd Edition: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-resistant Bacteria by S. Buhne
r


Herbal Antivirals by M. Jones 


Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals by C. Newall, L. Anderson, and D. Phillipson 


Herbs for Common Ailments: How to Make and Use Herbal Remedies for Home Health Care by R. Gladstar 


Herbal Teas: 101 Nourishing Blends for Daily Health & Vitality by K. Brown 


Medical Herbalism: The Science Principles and Practices Of Herbal Medicine by D. Hoffmann 


Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine, 2e by K. Bone and S. Mills 


Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal: A Guide to Living Life with Energy, Health, and Vitality 


Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health 


Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide

 

Homeopathic Resources

Classical Homeopathy by M. Carlston 


Complete Homeopathy Handbook by M. Castro 


Encyclopedia of Homeopathy by A. Lockie 


Homeopathy Pocket Guide by A. Brandl 


Principles and Practice of Homeopathy by D. Owen 

 

Like so many practices in life, I encourage you to become educated on the proper use of essential oils. When using them, please do so cautiously, understanding that there is often misinformation on the internet. You can be assured that I support only educated and proven resources. While essential oils should not be feared they should be respected and used properly to ensure the safety of the individuals using them.

Please note that I am not a medical practitioner. The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. By using this website, you assume full responsibility and liability for your own actions.

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