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Every home should have a well-stocked first-aid kit for common health problems. It is the most basic component of health care that can save you the hassle of running to the pharmacy or doctor for minor injuries and ailments.
For severe cases of health problems, a first-aid kit can give you temporary relief and buy you some time to seek medical help. Plus, carrying a first-aid kit when traveling can tide you over medical emergencies.
A standard first-aid kit includes some commonly used medications such as painkillers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), laxatives, anti-allergy drugs, antiseptic solutions, bandages, cotton, and other such items.
The great news is many ingredients in your kitchen cabinet have medicinal properties. You can put them together to make an all-natural first-aid kit.
What Should Your Natural First-Aid Kit Contain?
Here are a few natural ingredients that can help alleviate some common ailments and injuries.
Note: Make sure all these ingredients are fresh and not past their expiry date.
Chamomile is a medicinal herb known to relieve inflammation, promote wound healing, ease digestive distress, reduce minor anxiety, and improve sleep, among many other health benefits.
The dried flowers of this plant are full of terpenoids and flavonoids that account for most of its healing properties. Its anti-inflammatory effects can help alleviate hay fever, skin irritation, hemorrhoids, muscle spasms, and rheumatic pain, whereas its antimicrobial activity helps fight stomach infections. It is also credited with anti-ulcer properties. (1)
You can include chamomile tea bags as well as chamomile capsules in your natural first-aid kit.
Ginger has long been used in folk medicine for the treatment of a variety of ailments including the common cold, sore throat, high blood pressure, nausea, arthritis, and migraines.
Over the years, there has been extensive research on the pharmacological properties of this ingredient with promising results. (2) So, you can confidently say that the medicinal potential of ginger is not merely anecdotal, but actually backed by considerable scientific data.
Ginger is particularly effective in relieving nausea and vomiting and is therefore a must-have for those who suffer from travel sickness. Plus, pregnant women going through morning sickness can also benefit from its oral intake without the risk of side effects. (3)
You can keep ginger capsules, ginger tea bags, and crystallized ginger in your natural first-aid kit.
3. Lavender oil
Lavender oil is mainly used in aroma therapy to relax the tired mind and body. Inhaling the soothing fumes of this oil can help you sleep better and even get rid of severe headaches (including migraine). (4)
To relieve headaches, massage a few drops of lavender oil on the temples of your forehead. To induce restful sleep, mix a few drops of lavender oil in your bathwater and soak in it for a while before going to bed.
Alternatively, you can simply put a few drops on your pillowcase to breathe in the pleasant aroma as you try to fall asleep.
4. Citronella oil
Citronella oil works as a natural insect repellant that can protect you from various mosquito-borne viral and parasitic infections. (5) These include Japanese encephalitis, malaria, dengue, yellow fever, filariasis, and chikungunya, all of which together account for a huge part of the global disease and morbidity burden.
This plant oil is a much safer alternative to chemical insecticides that can be harmful to your health.
Make your own natural chemical-free insect repellant by mixing 5–10 ml of citronella in 90–95 ml of sweet almond oil, and then apply it to the affected area.
5. Clove oil
The main active ingredient in clove oil is eugenol, which is responsible for its strong fragrance and various medicinal properties.
This aromatic oil is credited with anti-inflammatory, anesthetic, and germicidal properties that can go a long way in preserving oral health. For this very reason, it is widely used in toothpaste and mouthwashes.
If you have a toothache, applying diluted clove oil to the affected area can help numb the underlying nerves to quickly relieve the pain, but only for a temporary period. (6) Plus, clove oil can help soothe gum swelling and kill harmful bacteria in the mouth to prevent infections.
Note: Clove oil is very strong at its original consistency and can irritate or damage your gums and teeth if applied directly. Always dilute it with water or carrier oil before topical use and make sure not to swallow it.
6. Aloe vera gel
Aloe vera gel is credited with potent anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and lubricating properties that make it great for soothing skin allergies and sunburns. It helps bring down the underlying inflammation to relieve the redness, itching, pain, and general skin irritation associated with these conditions.
When applied to the sunburnt area, aloe vera gel helps cool down the skin, thus providing quick relief while also accelerating skin repair. Meanwhile, its antimicrobial effects protect your damaged skin from infections as it heals.
Honey is recognized as an excellent skin-healing agent that can help treat a variety of wounds such as small cuts, sores, mild burns, and even mouth ulcers.
When applied to a wound, honey forms a thick sticky protective layer over the damaged skin to block out germs and irritants. Plus, it keeps the skin hydrated and facilitates fast healing.
Honey also works as an anti-inflammatory agent that can help soothe burns, itching, and skin allergies. (9)
In addition, medicinal intake of honey can provide symptomatic relief from upper respiratory tract infections such as the flu and cold. This can be attributed to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that help curb mucus formation, relieve sore throat, open up congested airways, and reduce cough and sniffles. Plus, honey works as a natural and cheap alternative to antibiotics. (10)
What Else Can You Include in Your First-Aid Kit?
A few other items that should go in your first-aid kit are:
- Single-use gloves
- A bottle of saline and distilled water
- Cotton wool and cotton buds
- Sterile dressing or gauze
- Band-Aids and plasters
- Alcohol-free cleansing wipes
- Eye wash and eye bath
- Saturation probe
How Can You Use Your Natural First-Aid Items for Various Health Issues?
1. For cuts, grazes, and skin abrasions
If you scrape, cut, graze, or tear your skin, the first thing you need to do is to clean the open wound to keep it from getting infected. If you notice any debris stuck on the wound site, carefully remove it with a pair of sanitized tweezers.
Then, gently wash the area with distilled, purified water or any disinfectant such as Dettol liquid to get rid of germs or grime. Use honey or aloe vera as a natural dressing or antiseptic on the wound, and cover it with gauze.
2. For common cold and flu
Once you come down with a cold or flu, there is nothing much you can do to clear the infection. It will resolve on its own after running its full course, and treatment is mainly directed at managing the symptoms.
Prevention is the best treatment for such maladies. To that end, you can proactively take chamomile/ginger capsules tincture two times a day during flu season, along with your regular vitamin D supplement. This combo will bolster your immunity to keep infections at bay.
Also, a strong immunity helps your body recover faster from a bout of infection.
- Mix a pinch of turmeric and ginger into a glass of milk, boil it, wait for it to become lukewarm, and then consume this tonic every night before sleeping.
- Take turmeric supplements, but only after running it by your doctor.
3. For food poisoning and indigestion
Drinking chamomile tea, ginger juice, or aloe vera juice can help alleviate the stomach/intestinal spasms associated with food poisoning and indigestion.
4. For minor burns and sunburn
When you get burnt, the heat is trapped in the skin and continues to damage the tissue for a while. Thus, the first thing you need to do in such a scenario is to put your scalded skin under cold running water.
Then, apply a cold compress for 20–30 minutes to the area. The topical cold therapy will help dissipate the heat trapped in the tissue to stop the burning process and thereby minimize the tissue damage that results thereafter. Plus, the gush of water helps remove any debris stuck on the skin.
Once the skin cools down, it tends to form small blisters. At this point, you need to dress the wound with honey and then loosely cover it with a clean bandage.
Don’t apply any oils or oil-based ointments to the burnt skin as they can further heat up the area and hamper the healing process. Instead, apply cold black or green tea bags to release any trapped heat from the burnt area.
Therapeutic teas contain tannic acid, which exhibits strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Thus, this topical therapy can help relieve the pain, swelling, redness, and irritation associated with burn injuries while also speeding up skin healing.
How Should You Store Your First-Aid Items?
Keep all the products in a waterproof and airtight container and place it in an easily accessible location.
How to Prepare a Homemade Hand Sanitizer
You can make your own hand sanitizer using natural ingredients. Simply follow this recipe.
- 230 ml of pure aloe vera gel
- 1 teaspoon of liquid coconut oil
- 10 drops of citronella oil
- 5 drops of lavender oil
- 3 drops of lemon oil
- Put all these ingredients in a bowl and give them a good stir.
- Empty the mixture into a clean bottle or jar.
Home remedies mostly gain legitimacy through anecdotal support rather than scientific evidence, which means they are not entirely trustworthy and can lead to adverse reactions.
The ingredients in the natural first-aid kit are subject to similar concerns and need to be scrutinized further through more rigorous clinical trials to determine their safety and efficacy. This is not to say that their suggested health benefits have no scientific backing, but just not enough to completely rule out their potential health risks.
Plus, the studies that have already been conducted on this subject are often riddled with limitations such as a small sample size, inconsistent dosage, and regional differences. (12)
You may use these natural remedies to address minor illnesses or for symptom management, but graver issues require proper medical treatment. Plus, don’t make the mistake of replacing your prescribed medication with these natural alternatives, unless advised by your doctor.