Once you've gotten comfortable utilizing your herbal medicine skills at home, it's not surprising that you might want to take the leap into putting your skills to work on the road. Creating a truly useful herbal first aid kit takes some preparation though, so don't rush in. Give some thought to what will work best in a travel-ready herbal first aid kit. To that end here are some tips to help you do that!
Tempting though it is, don't simply create mini versions of every single home remedy that you keep in your house and stick it in a box. Look at your regular first aid kit, the one that you put in your car or camping kit and then forgot about. See how light it is? It contains a few essentials necessary for handling mild emergencies, and that's it. Choose items for your herbal kit that are useful for those same kinds of emergencies (cuts, burns, stings, plant rashes, etc). Also, there's no need to overlap. Comfrey and plantain, for example, are largely interchangeable as a first aid for minor cuts and skin rashes. You don't need both in your kit. Just pick one. As a rule, your best items are going to be those that are useful for treating various issues (ex. calendula, good for bruises, rashes & more).
Enough with the Essential Oils
At the risk of getting flamed here by every MLM essential rep who reads this, put all those darn essential oil bottles back on the shelf. They are not interchangeable with whole herb remedies, and they won't be nearly as useful in an emergency situation. Choose 2 or 3, and shelve the rest. I personally keep small bottles of lavender and peppermint in my kit, and that's it.
Combine Herbal Aids with Regular First Aids
Just because you're using herbal remedies outside the home doesn't mean that you should ditch your regular first aid kit. You'll still need bandages, medical tape, gauze pads, tweezers, and snips. I personally wouldn't toss those antiseptic wipes or packets of OTC meds. They weigh next to nothing, and you might need them. The best kit that you create will have aspects of herbal medicine, allopathic medicine, and basic supplies combined into one lightweight container.
Keep that Kit Current!
Herbal remedies can expire just like OTC products. If you haven't looked at your first aid kit, herbal or otherwise, in over a year, pull it out and check it for expired materials. Get in the habit of dating your home remedies so that you know how old they are. Salves, balms, and tinctures have a pretty long shelf life. Even so, I generally don't trust salves or balms that are more than a year old. Tinctures will usually keep their potency for much longer. Your first aid kit is only as good as the oldest item in it, so keep your herbal first aid kit updated!
Editor's Note: The information in this article is not intended to diagnose or treat illness. Always do your research before using an herbal remedy to ensure that there are no allergy risks or cross indications with any prescription medications that you are taking. See your doctor before starting any new treatments or programs. Anything that you learn from Prairie Hawk Botanica, its blog, or Jennifer Capestany must be considered informational only. You own yourself.
Author: Jennifer Capestany
Jennifer is a clinical herbalist and health coach, specializing in autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Her interest in plant medicine led Jennifer to spend years studying herbology, physiology, and nutrition. She works one-on-one with her clients via her herbalist and health coaching business, Prairie Hawk Botanica. Jennifer lives on a homestead in rural Texas with her husband, 2 children, and various animals. In her spare time she loves to be in her large herb and vegetable garden. Sharing herb knowledge and her love of natural healing with others is her calling.
I'm Jennifer Capestany, a clinical herbalist and freelance writer with a practice in North Texas. Helping people deal as naturally as possible with rheumatoid arthritis, chronic illness and other chronic conditions is my calling.