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Alternatives For Healing

5 Natural Remedies For Your First Aid Kit

by Dr. Sarah Cimperman, ND


If your summer plans include outdoor adventures, don’t forget your first aid kit. It should contain basic supplies like bandages, sterile gauze, scissors, tweezers, adhesive tape, matches, needles, and thread. You’ll also want antiseptics to clean wounds and anti-inflammatory medicines to treat cuts, scrapes, insect bites, skin rashes, burns, bruises, sprains, and strains. Here are five natural alternatives to chemical-based products.

#1 | Alcohol Spray

Alcohol is a natural product of fermentation and an effective disinfectant. It’s also a safer choice than products marketed as “antibacterial.” Studies show that antibacterial hand sanitizers and wipes can promote the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, inhibit the growth of friendly bacteria that help keep us healthy, have negative effects on our immune system, and increase the risk of allergies and life-threatening infections. Some antibacterial products contain toxic chemicals like triclosan, a dioxin that has been shown to disrupt hormones and suppress the immune system. Human studies have linked triclosan to infertility, miscarriage, birth defects, allergies, and asthma, while animal studies have linked it to cardiovascular problems and cancer.

Look for 70% isopropyl alcohol and put it in a small clean spray bottle. Use it to disinfect hands before handling injuries, especially open wounds. It can be used disinfect wounds as well, but it will cause a temporary stinging sensation on areas where the skin is broken. Alcohol spray is also useful for disinfecting hands before eating.

#2 | Lavender Essential Oil

The essential oil of lavender is antimicrobial by nature and research studies show that it has strong antiseptic effects against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It has anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties. One study found that it promoted the synthesis of collagen and the differentiation of fibroblasts needed for tissue repair, and it helped wounds heal faster. Lavender also acts on the central nervous system to modulate neurotransmitters involved in regulating emotional responses to our environment, so it can help calm fear and anxiety common with acute injuries. Studies have shown that lavender is as effective as benzodiazepines in treating general anxiety.

Look for pure, organic lavender essential oil. Avoid synthetic and perfume oils because they don’t have medicinal effects. Always use lavender essential oil topically; never ingest it. (Encapsulated products are available for internal use but should only be taken under the guidance of a naturopathic doctor.)

To treat wounds, burns, and insect bites, apply a drop or two of lavender essential oil (or more as needed for large areas) and allow it to dry or cover the area with sterile gauze or a bandage. To ease anxiety, place a drop or two in the palm of your hand, rub your hands together, then rub them on your neck, chest, or the skin under your nose.

#3 | Calendula

Commonly known as marigold, calendula flowers have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. They help wounds heal by promoting the formation of granulation tissue needed for wound repair. Calendula can be used to treat cuts, scrapes, burns, skin rashes, and insect bites.

Calendula comes in many forms. The most pure form is calendula succus, made by preserving the freshly pressed juice of calendula flowers in pure alcohol. Calendula succus comes in small bottles with dropper tops that make it easy to apply to affected areas. Allow it to air dry then cover the area with sterile gauze or a bandage if needed. Because it usually contains twenty to thirty percent alcohol, calendula succus can cause a temporary stinging sensation when applied to open wounds.

Calendula can also be found in creams, gels, and ointments. They can be applied to cuts, scrapes, insect bites, and skin rashes after the affected areas have been disinfected. For burns, opt for calendula succus or a water-based gel over an oil-based cream or ointment.

#4 | Arnica

Arnica is a plant in the Aster family. It can reduce inflammation, ease pain and swelling, counter skin irritation, and stimulate circulation to support healing. Arnica can be used to treat wounds, insect bites, and skin rashes as well as sore muscles and musculoskeletal injuries like sprains, strains, and bruises.

The herb itself can be toxic in high doses, so make sure to look for homeopathic Arnica with a potency of 12c, 30c, or 200ck. Arnica in its homeopathic form is safe and non-toxic. It comes in small tubes that are easy to carry and the remedy can be used for any injury. Hold the tube upside down, turn the cap to dispense the pellets, then carefully remove the cap and use it to tip the pellets into your mouth. Avoid touching them with your hands. Dissolve two to four pellets your tongue every 15 minutes or less often as needed.

Arnica is also available in the form of creams, gels, and ointments. Look for products with the fewest additives and apply them three times per day to disinfected wounds, rashes, insect bites, sprains, strains, bruises, and sore muscles.

#5 | Rescue Remedy

Rescue Remedy is a dilute form of flower extracts developed by Dr. Edward Bach in the 1930s. Dr. Bach believed that our emotional health strongly impacts our physical health and his flower essences are used to manage stress and treat acute anxiety. Rescue Remedy can be taken after any injury or traumatic event.

Rescue Remedy comes in many forms. The liquid form is the most pure, containing only water-based dilutions of flowers preserved with pure alcohol. It comes in a small bottle with a dropper top that makes it easy to take. Place four drops in your mouth as needed, every 15 minutes or less often as necessary, or add them to water for sipping.

Rescue Remedy also comes as a spray, lozenges, pastilles, gummies, liquid melts, and gum for oral use, as well as a cream for topical use on skin irritations. It’s non-toxic, well-tolerated, inexpensive, and widely available.

Dr. Sarah Cimperman, ND is a naturopathic doctor in private practice in New York City and author of the book, The Prediabetes Detox: A Whole-Body Program to Balance Your Blood Sugar, Increase Energy, and Reduce Sugar Cravings (www.prediabetesdetox.com). For more information visit www.drsarahcimperman.com.

References:

Levy SB. Antibacterial household products: cause for concern. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2001;7(3 Suppl):512-5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11485643

Weatherly LM and Gosse JA. Triclosan exposure, transformation, and human health effects. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. Part B, Critical Reviews. 2017; 20(8):447–469. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6126357/

Winska K, Maczka W, Lyczko J, Grabarczyk M, Czubaszek A, et al. Essential oils as antimicrobial agents—myth or real alternative? Molecules. 2019;24(11):2130.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6612361/

Mori HM, Kawanami H, Kawahata H, and Aoki M. Wound healing potential of lavender oil by acceleration of granulation and wound contraction through induction of TGF-ß in a rat model. BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies. 2016;16:144. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4880962/

Woelk H and Schläfke S. A multi-center, double-blind, randomised study of the Lavender oil preparation Silexan in comparison to Lorazepam for generalized anxiety disorder. Phytomedicine. 2010;17(2):94-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19962288


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