How To Make An Herbal First Aid Kit

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“Dear Pharmacist,

Help me make an herbal medicine cabinet since you have such a good understanding of plants that act like drugs.”

–B.M., Tulsa, Oklahoma

Answer: Sure, this will be great because herbal remedies are usually very inexpensive and they come with fewer side effects than most prescribed medicines. Here are the must-haves:

Eucalyptus essential oil- Purifies the air, and may relieve sinus and lung congestion. I keep a tiny bottle (similar to the sort that department stores sample perfumes) and it’s filled with pure eucalyptus oil. I sniff it before boarding, especially if people are sick around me, and I’ve never gotten sick during or after a flight. You inhale it, do not ingest it. Dilute with a little oil and rub on your sore muscles.

Lavender essential oil- Another must have, that you apply to your skin for minor burns, bites, stings, rashes, abrasions, pimples and so forth. You can take a few deep inhalations of this oil for instant relaxation, or to help you sleep. Rub on pulse points.

Tea tree essential oil- A powerful anti-fungal and antiseptic. Clean cuts/scrapes with it and apply to discolored fingernails and toenails twice daily. Can dab lightly on pimples. Do not ingest.

Neutralizing cordial- Take this tincture by mouth, it’s great for stomach aches, gas, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn or acid reflux. I like Gaia’s brand for this.

Echinacea- Boost immune function and enhance the production of white blood cells; great to ward off colds, minimize allergies, prevent infections, and protect from toxins from spider/scorpion or jellyfish bites. Don’t take it if you’re allergic to ragweed.

Usnea- Never heard of that I bet! Usnea tincture is an antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-amoebic. It kills everything so I’d suggest this for people with serious lung, staph, strep or bladder infections. Of course, do not delay medical treatment if you really need it.

Bentonite clay- Always in my house. When taken internally it binds toxins, but too much can cause constipation. Suggest 1/8 or 1/4 teaspoon mixed in water daily, but do not take within 4 hours of important medications because it will inactivate them. Clay can be applied to the skin to draw out the poison from stings and bites, and to dry up pimples.

Bach Rescue Remedy- An energetic remedy- you take a few drops by mouth. It’s a brilliant combination of flower essences and affects the emotional and spiritual layer of our body. People use it to help manage trauma or shock, convulsions, fainting and even severe stress like a car crash, animal attack, or witnessing death.

White Willow Bark or California Poppy- These are used in the same way that you might use ibuprofen, aspirin or tylenol. I recommend them as herbal tinctures.

There’s a whole world out there on herbal medicine (the way it used to be!) and if you’d like more information just visit the American Botanical Council’s website at