Thursday, August 7, 2008

Herbal First Aid

Dear friends of mine are getting married next week in Mexico where they've been living for the past year. They are traveling aficionados having met in Vietnam and traveled the world once over since. Always on the practical side I gave them a customized herbal first aid kit for their travels.

Here's what's in it:


Wormwood (Artemesia absinthium): This is an invaluable tincture while traveling. It can be used against parasites and food poisoning that manifests itself as cramping and diarrhea. I was unfortunately given the opportunity to use this tincture while traveling this year, although I am happy to report back how amazingly quick it helped to set my system right again. After eating some questionable food I had cramping and diarrhea for 24 hours. At first I decided to let it run its course, but after 24 hours I was facing a 6 hour bus ride that I wanted to be well for. I followed Susun Weed’s dosing suggestion of three drops of tincture in water once every hour for up to four hours. By the third dosage I was feeling fine.

Later in the trip I met up with a dear friend of mine from college. She was very ill and had been so for over a week with intestinal issues, mainly cramping and diarrhea as well as gas and bloating. She had gone to the doctor and been prescribed antibiotics which she had been taking for a week without any sign of improvement. I shared my wormwood experience with her and she decided to give it a try. Again, after three doses she felt great! That is after many days of turmoil. Needless to say we were both impressed and both very thankful for the powers of wormwood.

Herbalpedia reports that wormwood repels roundworms and threadworms probably due to its sesquiterpene lactones. Steven Harrod Buhner writes in his book, Herbal Antibiotics, that wormwood is effective against malaria and Staphlycoccus aureus, as well as intestinal worms. I used it externally this summer to stop poison ivy in it’s tracks.

To use for diarrhea: take three drops in water once an hour for up to four hours.

Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia): Echinacea, the darling of many herbalists is a powerful preventive for colds and flus. Taken at the first sign of a cold or flu it helps to boost our immune system. To be effective it should be taken in large doses and frequently. Buhner suggest the following:
Strep Throat: Full dropper (30 drops) of the tincture as often as desired, not less than once each hour until symptoms cease. Mix with saliva and dribble slowly over affected area down back of throat.
Onset of colds and flus: Not less than one dropper full (30 drops) of tincture each hour until symptoms cease.

It can also be used externally for burns, wounds, skin infections and as a wash for poisonous stings and bites. To do so mix the tincture with equal amount of water and wash affected area liberally every 30 minutes.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium): Counters bacteria internally and externally, and repels insects. It can be used as prevention for colds and flus, for sore throats, or for fevers. To use as an insect repellant I keep the full strength tincture in a spray bottle and spray liberally and frequently. Can also use it externally to clean wounds. Mix the tincture with equal parts water.

Peach: I use peach tincture to settle my nerves and anxiety especially when there is a headache present. Traveling doesn’t always go smoothly and it’s nice to have peach’s settling effects. Plus it’s absolutely delicious. Take five to fifteen drops as needed.

Valerian: Want to go to sleep? Try fifteen drops of this – also can combine with peach for added effect. Don’t go over the recommended dosage for this one as it can have the opposite effect. You can also use valerian for muscle cramping. (Menstrual cramps, leg cramps, back spasms, etc.)

Ginger: Ginger is unparalled in it’s ability to help with motion sickness. Take before you get on that sketchy bus that is traveling along a tiny road up the mountain, as well as when the nausea hits. I also put in some ginger candy (but try to leave this for nauseus moments, not just when you want something sweet!) ☺

Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree oil can be used externally for a whole range of issues including fungal infections and herpes virus. I don’t leave home without it for its fast acting effect on cold sores. I apply it with a Q-tip at the first tingle of a cold sore.


I always carry a healing salve with me wherever I go. My favorite mixture is comfrey, calendula, and plantain. I also always bring along some cottonwood lip balm.

Peppermint: For upset stomachs, flatulence, and heartburn.

Chamomile: For nausea, anxiety, or used as a steam for clearing up congestion.

Cold and Flu Tea: I make this tea myself and seal in hot press tea bags. Take it at the onset and during a cold or flu. I would put five small tea bags or one big tea bag in a pint of water, let sit for at least a ½ hour before drinking. You can drink this liberally.

Cold & Flu Tea:
One Part Elder Flower
One Part Yarrow
½ Part Peppermint
½ Part Rose hips


Bandaids of course. :) I also put in some store bought throat drops as I haven't made any yet with a good storage record. Have you? Let me know about it. :)

Acid indigestion: 5-10 drops of Dandelion root or Wormwood tincture every ten minutes until relieved. I use a dose of Dandelion before meals to prevent heartburn.

Bacterial Infections (including boils, carbuncles, insect bites, snake bite, spider bite, staph): 30-50 drops Echinacea or Yarrow tincture up to 5 times daily.

Colds: to prevent them I use Yarrow tincture 5-10 drops daily; to treat them, I rely on Yarrow, but in larger quantity, say a dropper full every 3-4 hours at the worst of the cold and tapering off.

Cramps in gut: 5-10 drops Wormwood, once.

Diarrhea: 3 drops Wormwood hourly for up to four hours.

Fever: 1 drop Echinacea for every 2 pounds of body weight; taken every two hours to begin, decreasing as symptoms remiss. Or a dropper full of Yarrow tincture every four hours.

Insect: prevent bites from black flies, mosquitoes, and ticks with a spray of Yarrow tincture; treat bites you do get with Yarrow tincture to prevent infection.

Sore throat: Gargle with Yarrow tincture. Or place Echinacea tincture on the throat.

Wounds: I wash with Yarrow tincture, then wet the dressing with Yarrow tincture, too.