Unforeseen accidents, injuries, and ailments can quickly spoil a summer outing or a family trip. Being prepared with a first aid kit stocked with natural remedies will help relieve such annoyances which are common when we travel or spend time outdoors.
Below are some natural remedies that everyone should consider adding to their first aid kit. Many of the remedies are multipurpose, and you’ll notice some remedies have the same uses as others. By no means do you need to include every remedy on this list; choose the items you like best and which ones you feel are most helpful for your circumstances. Use the Natural First Aid Quick Reference Chart to help determine which remedies you need. Keep your kit simple and relatively light so that it is easy to pack with you.
Store your first aid items together, so you can quickly find things in times of an emergency. A small padded lunchbox makes a great container for storing your items together.
Natural First Aid Remedies
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a potent antiseptic. It can be used to cleanse scratches or abrasions. Tea tree oil also treats fungal infections of the skin and nails, cold sores, and warts. It also reduces itching and swelling from insect bites, and calms rashes from plant stings (poison ivy, poison oak, stinging nettle, etc..). Tea tree oil kills ticks and is also a deterrent for head lice.
Tea tree oil is very strong and it is recommended to dilute it slightly before applying to sensitive or irritated skin.
Cuts, Scrapes, and Wounds – After cleansing the area with clean water apply diluted tea tree oil and cover with a bandage if needed.
Insect Bites – Dab a drop of tea tree oil onto the bite as often as needed to relieve itching.
Fungal Infections – Apply diluted tea tree oil over the affected area 2-3 times per day until the infection is gone.
Plant Stings – After cleansing the area of any residue from the plant, apply diluted tea tree oil. Reapply if necessary.
Tick Removal – Apply a drop of tea tree oil over the tick to loosen it’s hold, then gently pull out the tick with tweezers, making sure you get all of it. Disinfect the bite and surrounding area with diluted tea tree oil.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil is a must for any fist aid kit as it is so versatile.
Lavender can help relax the nerves, reduce tension, and relieve emotional stress making it useful for treating migraines and headaches. Lavender promotes healing and prevents scarring as it stimulates cells to regenerate more quickly. It is also anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and can even neutralize venom from snake and spider bites.
Lavender is a very gentle oil and can be applied directly to the skin without dilution.
Sunburn – Apply lavender oil to the burned area after cooling the skin.
Bruises, Cuts, and Wounds – Apply a few drops directly to the affected area to speed healing.
Insect Bites – Dab on a drop of lavender to soothe an existing bite, or apply over exposed skin to deter insects and prevent bites.
Venomous Snake Bite – After washing the bitten area, apply lavender essential oil liberally to the bitten part. Try not to move the bitten part as that will encourage the venom to spread. Seek medical help as soon as possible.
Black Widow Spider Bite – Lavender essential oil is reputed to neutralize the poison of this spider. Apply 10 drops every few minutes until you reach medical care.
Plant Stings – Apply a few drops of straight lavender oil as soon as you notice you have been in contact with a poisonous plant. Wash the affected area as soon as you can then apply a few more drops of lavender.
Fainting – Sprinkle a few drops of lavender oil on a cloth and hold it under the nose of the person who fainted to help bring them back.
Nervous Tension, Headaches, and Migraines – Sniff the oil or place a few drops on your temples to promote relaxation and calmness.
Clove oil has analgesic properties. It is excellent to have on hand for dental emergencies as it will numb the gums and teeth. Clove oil also has anti-bacterial properties and will keep dental infections from spreading. Clove oil can also be used on the skin to numb bodily pain.
Toothache – Apply clove oil on the gums or tooth to numb dental pain and prevent infection.
General Pain – Apply diluted clove oil on the skin relieve pain.
Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera is cooling and healing. It’s nice to have on hand to soothe inflammations from minor scalds, burns, sunburn and heat rashes. Be sure to purchase a natural aloe vera gel which contains minimum additives.
Burns and Sunburn – After cooling the area with water, apply aloe vera. Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to boost the healing effects.
Heat Rash – Apply liberally to the affected area as often as needed to calm the itch.
Witch hazel has mild astringent, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It can be used on minor cuts and scrapes to prevent infection, repair broken skin and to stop minor bleeding. It will help calm and soothe insect bites, rashes, and other skin irritations. Witch hazel can also be used as a medium for diluting essential oils for topical applications.
Sunburn – Apply to sunburned skin to ease discomfort, speed the healing of the sunburn, and prevent skin peeling and flaking.
Swelling – Soak a clean piece of cloth in witch hazel and place it on swollen feet or joints to reduce swelling and ease the pain.
Cuts and Scrapes – Dab on some witch hazel to cleanse the area, prevent infection, and encourage the wound to heal faster.
Minor Bleeding – Dab on witch hazel to reduce bleeding. Apply pressure if needed.
Blisters – To help dry out a blister which has not yet broken, apply gauze soaked with witch hazel and fasten in place with an adhesive bandage.
Bruises – Apply witch hazel to the area 3 times a day to speed the healing time of the bruise.
Plant Stings – After washing the affected area, apply witch hazel to reduce itching and relieve swelling.
Insect Bites – Dab a small amount of witch hazel on the bite to relieve itching and swelling.
Tick Removal – Douse the tick with a few drops of witch hazel to help loosen its hold. Grasp the tick with tweezers and pull firmly. After removal, disinfect the area by dabbing the skin with witch hazel.
Bach Rescue Remedy
Bach Rescue Remedy is a homeopathic preparation made from a combination of five flower essences. It has a calming effect and is useful in times of anxiety, trauma, and emotional upset. It can also ease stress and fatigue during travel. Rescue Remedy can help children relax at night or calm them during tantrums. Pets also respond very well to Rescue Remedy, and it can calm them while traveling or during a thunderstorm.
Since it is a homeopathic preparation, Rescue Remedy is safe for anyone to use and it does not have any adverse side effects.
Shock, Accidents, Trauma, Stress or Emotional Distress – Place a few drops under the tongue, hold it there for a minute or two before swallowing. Alternatively, mix the drops in a small glass of water and sip. If someone is unconscious, you can place the drops on their lips. For use on pets, mix a few drops in their drinking water.
Arnica acts as an anti-inflammatory and a circulatory stimulant. Arnica is the remedy of choice for trauma or injury to the muscles. Arnica gel, cream, or salve is used for topical applications for physical injuries or discomfort. You can find topical Arnica as a herbal preparation or as a homeopathic preparation. Arnica also comes in homeopathic pellets and drops for internal use and are often used for relieving headaches, trauma, and shock.
Do not use arnica gel, cream, or salve on broken skin. If using Arnica pellets or drops, hold under the tongue for a few minutes or until pellets dissolve.
Bruising, Swelling, Sore Muscles, Sprains and Strains – Massage topical arnica into the affected area to alleviate discomfort and speed healing.
Headaches – Take 5 pellets or drops of Arnica 30x at the first sign of a headache.
Trauma or Shock – Administer 5 pellets or drops of Arnica 30x to help one recover from the trauma or shock of an accident. If the person is unconscious, place the drops on their lips.
Calendula has antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, astringent and wound-healing properties. Calendula can be found in creams, oils and ointments, but a wet calendula tea bag will also work in a pinch. Applied topically it reduces skin inflammations and irritations.
Cuts, Wounds, and Sores – After cleansing the affected area, apply calendula cream to disinfect the wound and speed healing.
Blisters – If a blister has broken apply calendula to speed healing and prevent infection.
Sunburn – After cooling the skin, apply calendula to sooth the burn and promote healing.
Insect Bites and Stings – Rub a little calendula cream onto the bite to soothe itching and irritation.
Rashes – Apply calendula to the affected area as often as needed to reduce irritation.
Sea Buckthorn Oil
Sea buckthorn oil is a natural anti-inflammatory which also promotes wound healing and the formation of healthy tissue.
Sea buckthorn oil has a strong natural pigment and will give the skin a temporary orange hue when applied topically. This due to the oils high carotenoid content and it will fade as the oil is absorbed into the skin.
Sunburn – After cooling the skin, apply sea buckthorn oil to soothe the skin and lessen the pain associated with sunburn.
Minor Burns and Scalds – Cool the burn in water first, then apply sea buckthorn oil to reduce the pain and healing time of the burn.
Cuts, Scrapes, and Wounds – Apply directly to the wound to accelerate healing and reduce scarring
Cayenne has rather specific functions in a first aid kit. It will stop minor bleeding of cuts and wounds, but more impressive is that it has been shown to stop heart attacks. The cayenne must be of high potency (at least 90,000 heat units) to stop a heart attack. If heart attack is a concern for you or someone you are traveling with, cayenne is a remedy worth having on hand as it can buy precious time while you are waiting for medical attention. You can buy cayenne powder, capsules or tincture.
Minor Bleeding – Apply a bit of cayenne powder topically over the wound to quickly stop bleeding.
Heart Attack – Add a teaspoon of ground cayenne to a cup of warm water and give it to the person to drink. If the person is unconscious they will not be able to drink, so use cayenne tincture or extract and put a few dropper fulls underneath their tongue.
Ginger is an excellent remedy to have on hand if you are prone to motion sickness or digestive upset. It quickly eases a queasy stomach due to motion sickness and also relieves discomfort associated with indigestion or gas and bloating. Ginger in any form will do the job (ginger capsules, ginger powder, ginger essential oil, crystallized ginger, or fresh ginger root), so choose the form that is most convenient for you to include in your first aid kit.
Nausea or Motion Sickness – Place 2 drops of ginger essential oil on a handkerchief or tissue and inhale until symptoms subside. Alternatively, chew on a piece of crystallized ginger or a slice of fresh ginger root or take 500-1000mg ginger in powder or capsule form every 15 minutes until nausea subsides. If you are having trouble keeping things in the stomach due to vomiting, hold the ginger in your mouth rather than swallowing it right away. To prevent motion sickness take 3-4 grams of dry ginger in capsule or powder form 45 minutes before departing.
Indigestion, Gas or Bloating – Dilute ginger essential oil in a carrier oil and rub over the upper part of the abdomen. Chew on crystallized ginger or fresh ginger root or sip a tea made from fresh ginger root or ginger powder. If using dry ginger, take a few grams in capsule or powder form.
Goldenseal in a potent antimicrobial agent which can kill parasites, bacteria, and other undesirable microbes. It is effective against pathogens that can cause traveler’s, food poisoning, cough, cold, and flu. Goldenseal will also help the lungs to expel excess mucous associated with an infectious cough. Goldenseal can also be used topically as an antiseptic, and to stop minor bleeding.
Goldenseal is available in capsules, powder, and tincture. Capsules offer the most flexibility; they are ideal for avoiding the bitter taste of goldenseal when taken orally, but they can also be opened in order to use the powder topically.
Do not take goldenseal more than 10 days continuously. Never take goldenseal if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Wounds – Sprinkle goldenseal powder onto cuts or wounds to stop bleeding and prevent infection.
Food Poisoning or Traveler’s Diarrhea – Take 1,000 – 1,500mg goldenseal at the first signs of food poisoning. Continue taking the same dosage 3 times a day until symptoms are gone.
Cold or Cough – Take 1000mg at the first signs of a cough, cold or flu. Continue taking 1000mg 3 times a day until symptoms subside.
Oil of Oregano
Oil of oregano is a great product with many uses. It acts as an immune stimulant and also kills bacteria, viruses, fungus, and parasites. It can knock out food poisoning, traveler’s diarrhea, and the common cold. Oil of oregano also calms and upset stomach and aids digestion. Applied topically it can treat various conditions including toothaches, fungal infections, and venomous bites among other things.
Oil of oregano is very strong, so when using it topically dilute it 50/50 with a carrier oil (olive, coconut, sunflower, etc..) to avoid skin irritation. Do not take oil of oregano internally for more than a 2-3 weeks continuously.
Food Poisoning and Traveler’s Diarrhea – Take 3-6 drops of oregano oil at the first signs of a problem. Continue taking the same dosage 3 times a day until symptoms subside.
Digestive Issues – Take 3-6 drops 2-3 times a day to help relieveand digestive problems.
Cough and Cold – Take 3-6 drops at the first sign of a cold to stop it in its tracks. Take 3 times per day before meals every day for up to 5-10 days. For coughs and bronchitis take for the duration of illness to mobilize mucous and ease spasticity of the lungs.
Injuries, Aches and Pains – Massage diluted oregano oil into sore muscles and sports injuries to decrease inflammation and ease pain.
Headaches and Migraines – Rub diluted oregano oil onto your temples and between your eyebrows. Repeat as needed. Be careful not to get any in the eyes.
Toothaches and Mouth Sores – Mix a drop of oregano oil with 1 teaspoon of carrier oil and swish it around your mouth for a few minutes. Spit it out when finished and repeat as needed.
Fungal Infections – For athletes foot, toenail fungus and other external fungal infections apply diluted oregano oil to the affected area.
Insect Bites – Apply a drop of diluted oregano oil to ease itching from mosquito and ant bites.
Tick Removal – Apply diluted oil of oregano onto the area where the tick is attached to cause the tick to drop off. Use tweezers to help remove the tick if necessary. The oil of oregano can also be used to disinfect the bite.
Venomous Bites and Stings – Apply oil of oregano liberally to the bite and surrounding area. Oregano oil will help to neutralize venomous bites from snakes, spiders, scorpions, and bees until medical attention can be reached.
When you cannot make it to the ER, having activated charcoal on hand can be a lifesaver. Activated charcoal counteracts toxins by soaking them up like a sponge, preventing their absorption by the bloodstream. It can be taken after the ingestion of toxic substances, excess alcohol, or in cases of food poisoning to prevent ill effects. Activated charcoal is also effective in drawing out venom from poisonous bites.
Charcoal is available in loose powder and capsules.
Note: taking activated charcoal within a few hours of medications or supplements will inhibit the absorption of those substances.
Ingestion of Toxic or Poisonous Substances: Activated charcoal should be taken within an hour of ingestion of the poison. Before taking it call the local Poison Control Center for instructions on how much to take and if it is suitable for the type of poison ingested. Charcoal is not safe to take after the ingestion of gasoline or acids.
Food Poisoning – Take activated charcoal as soon as food poisoning is suspected. Take 1-2 tablespoons mixed with water and drink. Take this dose 3 times a day until symptoms subside.
Diarrhea – Take 1000mg of activated charcoal every two hours while awake, then continue the treatment for a day or two after diarrhea has stopped.
Gas and Bloating – For quick relief of, take 1000mg of activated charcoal at the first signs of gastrointestinal distress.
Venomous Snake and Spider Bites – Make a large charcoal compress and apply it to the bite and surrounding area. Use as much charcoal as you can as this is an emergency. Keep the compress moist with water, and cover with plastic wrap if available. Apply a fresh compress every 10-15 minutes. Also, take charcoal by mouth at the dose of 2 tablespoons every 2 hours for the first 3 doses, then cut back to 1 teaspoon every hour for 24 hours. Drink a lot of water with each dose of charcoal.
Bentonite clay can absorb toxins and draw them out from the body. Internally it can help ease symptoms of food poisoning and traveler’s diarrhea. Externally it is used for drawing out poisons and small foreign objects from the body.
When taking bentonite clay internally always drink a lot of water.
Note: taking bentonite clay within a few hours of medications or supplements will inhibit the absorption of those substances.
Food Poisoning and Traveler’s Diarrhea – Take clay internally at a dose of 2 tablespoons 3 times a day until symptoms subside.
Thorns and Splinters – To draw out thorns or splinters, mix a small amount of powdered clay with water and apply over the affected area. As the clay dries, the thorn or splinter will be pulled out. This only works if the splinter has not been driven very deep.
Venomous Snake and Spider Bites – If you are still not in medical care 4 hours after a bite, switch from a charcoal compress to a clay compress. Charcoal will have done its job by that point, and then you can utilize bentonite clay’s effectiveness as drawing out toxins.
Iodine is a strong antiseptic and disinfectant. It can be used internally and externally to kill bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. It is especially useful for treating food poisoning and for purifying water. Lugol’s Iodine is mentioned specifically because it does not contain ethyl alcohol which is found in other forms of iodine preparations and is not ideal for ingestion.
Do not use iodine if you have a thyroid disorder, an allergy to iodine, if you are pregnant or if you are breastfeeding. Do not give iodine to very small children.
Cuts and Wounds – When applied topically to wounds iodine will prevent infection, but most iodine preparations are too strong for use on broken skin and will damage healthy skin cells. If the wound is minor, use something more gentle such as lavender oil. If the wound is deep, you can add a small amount of iodine to water and use that water to irrigate the wound.
Food Poisoning – Add 6 drops of Lugol’s 5% or 12 drops of Lugol’s 2% iodine solution to half a glass of water and drink. Take another dose 2 hours later. If symptoms persist after 2 doses, continue at the rate of 4 doses per day for 3 days. For children use half the amount of drops per dose.
Water Purification – Add 4 drops of Lugol’s 5% solution or 8 drops of Lugol’s 2% solution per 1 liter of water. Double the dose if you are in a hurry as this will halve the contact time. If you think the water is heavily contaminated double the dose, but let it sit for the full contact time. To neutralize the taste of iodine, dissolve some Vitamin C in the water or add lemon or lime juice. Only add the neutralizing substances after the water has sat with iodine for the recommended contact time, as these substances will also neutralize the disinfectant action of iodine.
Contact Time varies depending on water conditions. Here is a guideline.
|Water Clarity||Water Temperature|
|15 °C (59 °F)||5 °C (41 °F)|
|Clear||30 min||15 min|
|Cloudy||60 min||30 min|
If you are crossing over time zones or sleeping in unfamiliar places, you may want to consider adding some melatonin to your first aid kit. Melatonin is naturally produced by the pineal gland; it is the hormone that makes us sleepy. If you are prone toor travel related insomnia, keep a few tablets on hand to ensure a good nights sleep.
Do not take melatonin during the day as it will cause grogginess. Do not drive or operate machinery after taking melatonin. Do not give melatonin to anyone under the age of 18.
Insomnia or Jet lag – Take 1-5mg of melatonin 15-30 minutes before desired sleep time. For more information read: Using Melatonin for Jet Lag.
Dehydration results from excessive fluid loss (sweating, vomiting, diarrhea) or from inadequate intake of fluids. Having an electrolyte replacement on hand is essential if you are spending time in the heat or visiting areas where water or food-borne illnesses are common. Carry some powdered electrolyte replacement in your first aid kit for convenience.
You can make your own electrolyte replacement by combining 1/2 tsp of baking soda + 1/2 tsp sea salt + ¼ tsp salt substitute or “LoSalt” for every liter of water. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar if you have no dietary restrictions in regards to sugar.
A pre-made electrolyte mix that can be found most Canadian and US health stores is “Emergen-C“. Emergen-C also contains a high dose of Vitamin C (hence the name), so it can also be used when the immune system needs support, such as during a long flight or when experiencing traveler’s sickness. Emergen-C comes in a wide range of flavors, so it can also be used mask the taste of treated water or water that has taken on the warm plastic taste of the bottle.
Dehydration – Use one serving of homemade electrolyte replacement or 1 package of Emergen-C per liter of water. Sip the water.
And don’t forget the usual first aid kit supplies:
- Thermometer – For taking temperature if fever is suspected. Keep in mind; however, that fever is a healthy reaction of the body which kills off invading pathogens. Do not try lower a fever unless it is higher than 103°F (39°C)
- Adhesive bandages (in various shapes and sizes), Gauze and Medical tape – For cuts and wounds.
- Tensor bandage – For sprains or strains.
- Moleskin – For blisters.
- Small scissors – For cutting bandages and tape.
- Tweezers – For removing ticks and splinters.
- Cotton swabs – For applying oils, creams and antiseptics.
Natural First Aid Quick Reference Chart
|Injuries and Minor Wounds|
|Burns||Aloe, Lavender, Sea Buckthorn Oil|
|Sunburn||Aloe, Calendula, Lavender, Sea Buckthorn Oil, Witch Hazel|
|Cuts and Scrapes||Calendula, Goldenseal, Iodine, Lavender, Sea Buckthorn Oil, Tea Tree, Witch Hazel|
|Bruises||Arnica Gel, Lavender, Witch Hazel|
|Blisters||Calendula, Witch Hazel|
|Minor Bleeding||Cayenne, Goldenseal, Witch Hazel|
|Muscle Ache, Sprains, Strains||Arnica Gel, Oil of Oregano|
|Swelling||Arnica Gel, Witch Hazel|
|Shock and Trauma||Arnica Pellets, Rescue Remedy|
|Bites and Irritations|
|Insect Bites and Stings||Bentonite Clay, Calendula, Lavender, Oil of Oregano, Tea Tree, Witch Hazel|
|Venomous Bites||Activated Charcoal, Bentonite Clay, Lavender, Oil of Oregano|
|Tick Removal||Oil of Oregano, Tea Tree Oil, Witch Hazel|
|Plant Stings||Lavender, Tea Tree Oil, Witch Hazel|
|Rashes||Aloe Vera, Calendula, Witch Hazel|
|Fungal Infections||Oil of Oregano, Tea Tree Oil|
|Headaches||Arnica Pellets, Lavender, Oil of Oregano|
|Insomnia||Lavender, Melatonin, Rescue Remedy|
|Anxiety, Stress||Lavender, Rescue Remedy|
|Tooth Pain||Clove Oil, Oil of Oregano|
|Cough, Cold and Flu||Goldenseal, Oil of Oregano|
|Motion Sickness, Nausea||Ginger|
|Digestive Trouble||Activated Charcoal, Ginger, Oil of Oregano|
|Traveler’s Diarrhea||Activated Charcoal, Bentonite Clay, Electrolyte Replacement, Goldenseal, Oil of Oregano|
|Food Poisoning||Activated Charcoal, Bentonite Clay, Goldenseal, Iodine, Oil of Oregano|
- Brigitte Mars, Natural First Aid: Herbal Treatments for Ailments & Injuries/Emergency Preparedness/Wilderness Safety
- Valerie Ann Worwood, The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy
- www.high-altitude-medicine.com – Water Treatment Methods
- Keith M. Henry, N.D. – Cayenne Pepper – Stop a Heart Attack Fast
- Ivy Green – Snake Bites
- www.oklahomapoisoncontrol.org – What is Activated Charcoal?