Herbs for a First-Aid Kit

Black eyes, bloody noses, and other childhood events can all be healed with herbs

| February/March 1999

  • Herbal remedies in your first-aid kit can help heal scrapes and road rash.
  • Comfrey stimulates cell growth and wound-healing.
  • Echinacea boosts the immune system.
  • Herbal remedies in your first-aid kit can help heal scrapes and road rash.
  • Use plantain as a quick backyard bandage.

Life can be hazardous. Tools, appliances, toys, and medicines carry both benefits and risks. As parents, teachers, and caregivers, we can teach children about safety to remove some of the worry, but we must also be prepared for the inevitable accident. Knowledge of first aid is one of our best defenses.

Learn it before you need it. Take a course. Prepare a first-aid kit. Know where it is, what’s in it, and how to use it so that you don’t have to improvise in the middle of a crisis. We feel that herbs have a place in any standard first- aid kit (see box at the left). If you purchase a standard kit, you can add herbal remedies to it.

Many childhood injuries demand medical ­attention. If in doubt, call a doctor or emergency medical services immediately. Still, most routine minor mis­haps respond to a little care and attention—aided by the materials and herbs in your handy first-aid kit.

Scratches and scrapes

Most skinned knees and scraped elbows need only a good washing with tepid water and mild soap. For dirty wounds, we use a skin cleanser that contains antibacterial grapefruit-seed extract. After you clean the wound, you can apply a salve that contains healing and antimicrobial herbs such as echinacea, calendula, comfrey, plantain, and Oregon grape root. If you can’t remove all the debris from a wound, take your child to a doctor, who can clean the wound under local anesthesia without causing further pain or injury.

After wounds on knees or elbows have scabbed over, herbal ointments and salves can help keep the scabs soft so that they don’t break open and bleed when the child bends the joint. Wounds generally heal faster when left open to the air. When your child is headed to school or to play, tape on a gauze dressing to keep out some of the dirt and keep in the salve.


Small cuts usually stop bleeding on their own. If a cut continues to ooze, cover it with a clean cloth or gauze and apply direct, steady pressure until bleeding stops. For small cuts, you can also curb bleeding with applications of powdered yarrow leaf or flower, horsetail, bistort root, or wild geranium root directly to the site, either dry or mixed with a little water to form a paste.

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