The Gardener's Natural First-Aid Kit

Ease gardening woes by keeping a natural first-aid kit packed with these healing essentials and natural remedies.

| March/April 2013

  • Ease gardening woes by keeping a first-aid kid packed with healing essentials such as aloe vera, arnica, tea tree, witch hazel and more.
    Photo By Thomas Gibson

There’s nothing like time spent outdoors gardening. And while this hobby can reap a bevy of health rewards, it can also cause stress to our bodies. If you plan to spend your spring digging in the dirt, keep this natural gardener’s first-aid kit nearby for blisters, sunburns, or bumps and scrapes. Note: With any natural remedy, go easy at first to make sure your skin doesn’t have an adverse reaction. If a wound is serious or lasts more than a week without signs of healing, consult a medical professional.

First Aid for Blisters

Never pop a blister. Doing so invites infection. Instead, dry the blister: Soak a gauze pad in witch hazel extract, a mild astringent with antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Place the soaked pad over the blister and cover with an adhesive bandage. If a blister breaks on its own, wash the area with soap and water, then dab it with tea tree oil, a powerful antimicrobial with antiseptic properties. Cover the area with a gauze bandage; reapply tea tree oil and change dressing daily.

First Aid for Splinters

Use sterilized tweezers to ease a splinter out, then wash the wound with an herbal infusion to disinfect. Herbs with antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties include St. John’s wort, chamomile and Oregon grape root. Make a strong infusion by steeping a handful of one or more of these dried herbs in water for 5 to 10 minutes.

First Aid for Minor Cuts and Scrapes

Powdered goldenseal is a powerful antimicrobial and antiseptic that can be sprinkled directly onto cuts or wounds to help stop bleeding. Once bleeding stops, gently wash the wound with soap and water. Pat dry, apply raw, unprocessed honey, and cover with a clean bandage. Honey reduces bacterial contamination in wounds, helping them heal faster. Change dressing and reapply honey one to three times daily as needed.

First Aid for Stings and Bug Bites

First, minimize stings and bug bites by deterring pests. Rather than commercial brands formulated with DEET—a pesticide that has been linked to neurological damage and can cause rashes and eye irritation—try this herbal spray: 2 ounces of a carrier oil (such as almond or grapeseed) combined with 1⁄2 teaspoon of citronella or lemongrass essential oil. Apply at least every two hours.

Treat minor bites or stings with a poultice made from equal parts echinacea tincture, water and bentonite clay. This blend will draw out the poison and help relieve itching. You also can add a few drops of lavender or peppermint essential oil to boost its antiseptic and antibacterial properties. For additional treatments, check out these Natural Home Remedies for Bee Stings.

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