Herbal First Aid
The first aid remedies in this handout are designed for home use of day-to-day minor injuries and ailments. In the event of a life-threatening or traumatic situation, do not hesitate to seek professional help.
First aid plants can be used fresh from your garden, especially for topical purposes, and in the form of extracts. Please make sure that you properly identify all plants either through a field guide or by having someone show you the proper plant. I prefer the fresh plant when available and keep salve with me as backup.
My Herbal First Aid Kit
Ouch! Relief Salve – bites, stings, cuts, rashes, bruises
Calendula Salve – burns, sunburn, scars, chapped skin and lips
Echinacea Tincture – antimicrobial for internal use
Catnip or Chamomile Tincture –pain relieving and calming
Comfrey Oil – Sore muscles, sprains, strains, bruises, and broken bones
Slippery Elm – nausea, indigestion, heartburn, constipation
St. John’s Wort Oil – sunburn, sun protection (some people become more photo sensitive with St. John’s Wort)
Tape and gauze
Plant Information and Uses
Plantain (Plantago majora/ P.Lanceolata)
Plantain (not the banana ☺) is a prevalent weed that grows well in waste places. Look for it along roadsides, growing out of gravel and in poor soils. Plantain is astringent and when applied as a poultice will draw out venom and infection.
Preparations – Spit poultice, oil, salve
Recipe – Fresh Plant Poultice
1. Identify fresh the plant, using field guide or have a knowledgeable person show you.
2. Pick one or two leaves and slowly chew them in your mouth until it forms a pulpy mass. OR Use a mortar and pestle with a little water to make the poultice.
3. Apply to the wound, sting or bite and hold it in place with a band-aid.
4. Reapply as needed when the poultice dries out.
St. Joan’s/Johns Wort (Hypericum perforatum/H.punktatum)
St. Joan’s Wort is a first choice for burns. It is helpful in healing all kinds of burn including sunburn, cooking and radiation burns. Some people can use the oil as a helpful preventative to sun burns, but in others it can cause photosensitivity. This also applies to internal use of St. Joan’s Wort. It is also used as an anti-viral and anti- bacterial. St. Joan’s Wort can be identified by the oblong leaves that when held up to the light reveal red-black dots along the edge or throughout the leaf. Small clusters of bright yellow flowers blossom around mid-summer.
Preparations- oil, salve, alcohol tincture
Recipe – Medicinal Infused Oil
1. Identify and harvest the fresh plant.
2. Fill a clean DRY mason jar to the neck with rough chopped fresh plant. Pack it down so that it is firm, but not too tight.
3. Fill the jar again with organic olive oil, (Does not need to be EVOO) so that all the plant material is covered.
4. Check every day for the first three days. Poke out air bubbles and add more oil if needed.
5. Let sit for 6 weeks.
6. Strain out the plant material using cheesecloth.
7. Let sit for another 3 days.
8. Siphon off the oil from the moisture and debris that collects on the bottom.
9. Bottle and enjoy!
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Yarrow gets its’ Latin name from Greek mythology. It is said that Achilles took it into battle to treat wounds. The leaves are finely dissected and lacy. A poultice made from the leaves is used in the same way as plantain to staunch bleeding and draw out infection. The flowers are also used to ease toothache pain. Yarrow is also anti-bacterial and has pain-relieving properties. A tincture can be used internally to treat colds, flus and bladder infections. Only white-flowered yarrow should be used medicinally.
Preparations – fresh plant poultice, oil, salve, dried plant tea, alcohol tincture
Recipe – Salve
1. Take strained medicinal infused oil and combine with beeswax in a double boiler using a 1:7 ratio.
2. Stir slowly until wax is melted.
3. Pour liquid into jars and let cool.
4. Label and enjoy!
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
Comfrey is an unparalleled cell regenerator. It helps to nourish and moisturize as it helps the skin to heal. Comfrey should not be used for deep or infected wounds as it can cause the top layer of skin to heal before deeper tissues, causing an abscess. Comfrey is most commonly used as a salve or oil, even though it is effective internally as well, because of a potentially toxic compound that affects the liver. Comfrey can be used for bruises, strains, sprains, breaks, cuts, and chapped skin or lips.
Preparations- fresh or dried plant poultice, oil, salve, dried plant infusion
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is indicated for: wounds, abscesses, burns, skin issues that keep getting worse, particularly those with the risk of infection as it is dramatically antimicrobial across the board. It helps skin to heal from radiation, both originating from sunburn and cancer treatments.
It can also be used for topical funguses, diaper rash, yeast infections
Preparations – oil, salve
Echinacea (Echinacea augustifolia, purpurea and pallida) – Echinacea is recognized by both traditional herbalists and the scientific community as a general immune system stimulant. It is safe for pregnancy, breastfeeding mothers, and children. The whole plant has immune supportive properties.
Preparation – alcohol tincture
Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva) This mucilaginous herb is excellent for soothing any irritated mucus membranes including respiratory, digestive and urinary. Excellent for sore throats, dry, tickly cough and nausea. Laxative action is very gentle but should not be taken by pregnant mommas.
Preparation - tea
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) Helps to relieve pain and irritability, as well as indigestion caused by excess saliva during teething. It is also safe for promoting restful sleep for both babies and adults
Preparation – tea or tincture
Catnip –(Nepeta cataria) – This is one of my favorite teas. It is excellent for calming; reducing headaches associated with cold and fever and is safe for babies and while breastfeeding. It helps to relax tense muscles as with a cough, or injury and has a pleasant, mildly minty flavor and can help bring on a sweat to reduce a fever.
Preparation – tea or tincture.
Making Plant Medicine Richo Cech
Corinna Wood www.sewisewomen.com
A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs: of Eastern and Central North America James A. Duke, Steven Foster and Roger Tory Peterson
Naturally Healthy Babies and Children Aviva Romm
The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook James Green
* None of the information in this article is designed to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease. This information is not a substitute for medical care. Gray Cat Botanicals and Nature Connect NC are not responsible for how individuals use the information presented in this article.