This is the first article in a three-part series on first aid kits, and how to build one adhering to KISS principals. This series includes: the Basic KISS Herbal First Aid Kit, Trauma Kit Herbal Formulas, and First Aid Essential Oils. This article is part of the the Prepared Bloggers, “30 Days of Preparedness” and will be posted on the Prepared Blogger’s website on Day 23.
The number one obstacle that newbie preppers face when building a first aid kit is narrowing down the options of what to put into it. This goes double for newbie herbalists who are also newbie preppers wanting to build an herbal first aid kit. The best way that I’ve found to overcome this kind of inertia is to apply the KISS design principal- Keep It Simple, Stupid.
This somewhat blunt acronym originated in the US Navy. It is a perfect reminder to focus upon simplicity and efficiency. It is especially appropriate for assembling Medical Preparedness supplies.
The Purpose of A First Aid Kit
First aid is care given immediately after an injury, and the first aid kit provides the supplies for that care. This may be the only care necessary if the incident is minor, or the first step in care while waiting for more experienced care providers to arrive or during transport to a medical facility.
Most ready-made first aid kits are designed for very minor incidents, such as minor cuts and splinters. Typical supplies in the average pre-assembled kit will be bandages, tape, bacitracin ointment, some alcohol wipes, a lousy pair of tweezers, and perhaps some individual doses of ibuprofen and an antihistamine. While these all have their place in a first aid kit, these supplies are limited in what they can offer.
However, since preppers are concerned with more serious injuries and illnesses, plus longer durations before medical help is available, a more comprehensive trauma kit would be more appropriate. Still, it is only a kit, not a mobile apothecary, and must still fit within the confines of a Bug Out Bag (BOB), the back of one’s vehicle, or even in one’s Every Day Carry (EDC) bag.
Top 5 Reasons to Choose Herbs for a First Aid or Trauma Kit
- Herbs work.
- No license is required to grow or make herbal medicines.
- Herbs can be grown year after year, whereas pharmaceuticals must be shipped to pharmacies.
- Herbal skills are simple to learn.
- Many are common weeds and plants that will not draw attention as “medicine” by outsiders as would medicine bottles with brand name labels.
Basic KISS Herbal First Aid Kit
Applying the KISS principals helps avoid that temptation by focusing on remedies that cover the most possible conditions with the fewest possible components, and in the least amount of space.
The skills needed to make each of these can be learned quickly, even within an afternoon. And while you could buy ready-made tinctures or ready-made salves, you will save money making these yourself. This series of articles includes the following types of formulations:
- Tinctures (learn how to make tinctures here)
- Salves (aka ointments)
- Tea (learn how to make a medicinal herbal tea here)
Here is a list of the herbs, and other natural items, that I have chosen for the kit and why.
Nature’s perfect burn and deep wound healer. Raw honey is antibacterial. When it comes in contact with a wound, the honey begins to manufacture hydrogen peroxide, providing a low, slow, and continuous dosage of hydrogen peroxide right into the wound. Honey is used for:
- Bacterial skin infections
- Cough suppressant
Witch-hazel – Hamamelis virginiana
This remedy is cooling, astringent, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic. It is best to order witch hazel extract from an herbal supply shop, or to make it yourself. Otherwise, the commercially made witch hazel generally lacks the proper amount of tannins to be effective.
- astringent- pulls tissues together
- Wound wash
Not an herb, but both natural an effective in drawing away toxins. Activated charcoal can easily be made into capsules using empty gelatin capsules and a capsule machine. After a disaster, it is possible to make a DIY activated charcoal at home, though the product may be a bit more crude. Activated charcoal is useful for:
- Food poisoning
- Intestinal toxins-binds with unfriendly microbial agents, helps eliminates them
- Bites- internal and external
Shepherd’s Purse – Capsella bursa-pastoris or Yarrow – Achillea millefolium
Both herbs have hemostatic and astringent properties, and are used to stop internal and external bleeding. Tincture would be the most common form of either herb. Shepherd’s purse is long associated with midwifery care, and used in case of a uterine hemorrhage. Yarrow has a reputation as a “battlefield herb”. Both are useful in treating:
- Bleeding ulcers
- Blood in urine
- Bleeding gums
- hemorrhaging, especially during childbirth or miscarriage
- Poisonous or venomous bite, as an astringent, it may slow down the spread of the poison or the venom, by constricting the blood vessels
- Diuretic and UTIs
- Helps lower fevers
Peppermint – Mentha piperita
One of the most multi-purpose, safe, and tasty herbs, peppermint can serve several important functions in a first aid kit. Peppermint is easy to obtain in the tea section of the grocery store. Either tea or essential oil can soothe away a headache. Peppermint is easy to grow almost anywhere, and its leaves are high in the plant’s volatile, essential oils, and may be a possibility for those who want to try their hand at distilling their own essential oils post-collapse. It is safe for children, as well as both pregnant and nursing women. Some of it’s many applications are:
- Intestinal cramping
- Lowers temp
- Helps improve the flavor or less pleasant tasting remedies
- Helps colds & flu by thinning out sinuses
Skullcap – Scutellaria lateriflora
This plant is also known as “American Skullcap” and is used to lower anxiety, to return the body to a state of homeostasis after experiencing something stressful, helpful in breaking to interrupt the “fight or flight” response, and helps people relax and go to sleep. This would be very handy to assist those who are feeling unnerved and are having difficulty sleeping.
White Willow – Salix alba
The bark of the white willow is the origin of aspirin. I is taken for all the same complaints as aspirin. From my experience, it takes a little longer to impact one’s system, but the effects last longer. I also find it is easier on the stomach as compared to the commercially prepared, “Aspirin”. All of the same precautions exist. Do not give to children with a fever. Taking it could lead to a deadly complication known as Reye’s Syndrome.
- Same warnings as aspirin
- Kids & aspirin- safe for pain, do not give if they have a fever
- Blood thinner
Elderberry- Sambucus nigra
Elderberry makes a pleasant tasting syrup, as well as being a potent antiviral. Elderberry is capable of reducing the duration of an influenza infection faster than some prescription antiviral medications.
- Make into a honey-based syrup or gummies for children.
- Shortens the duration of viral, respiratory infections.
- Can be taken daily to prevent infections.
Usnea is a lichen. It’s also known as “Old Man’s Beard” and is easily found hanging off trees almost anywhere in the US. It has many uses as an herbal antibiotic. The method of making an usnea tincture is slightly different than other tinctures. It should be powdered and macerated in water over low heat, and then alcohol is added to the water and herb, and allowed to macerate for a total of 2-6 weeks. Usnea is helpful with:
- skin infections
- upper & lower respiratory infections
- vaginal infections
- fungal infections
- excellent for drug-resistant bacteria
- wound powder, tea, or tincture
Comfrey– Symphytum uplandicum & Calendula – Calendula officinalis Salve
Comfrey is a premier cell proliferator, and calendula is anti-fungal an soothing to the skin. This makes this salve ideal for raw baby bottoms just as well as minor cuts and scrapes. Do not apply comfrey to a deep wound. It is such a potent cell proliferator, that it may heal the top layers, while leaving the deeper layers of a wound open. This is excellent on burns and bruises, and:
- skin soothing- abrasions
Other Useful Items for Your KISS Herbal First Aid Kit
In addition to gauze, tape, protective gloves, thermometer, blood pressure cuff, and the additional herbal formulas coming in this series, I would also include duct tape and a copy of Duct Tape 9-1-1 by Dr. James Hubbard, aka The Survival Doctor. You can read his blog over TheSurvivalDoctor.com, This book covers how to tape joints, how to use duct tape in place of steri-strips, how to make an eye cup, how to water proof your clothing, how to make your pants resistant to snakes, how to use duct tape as a tourniquet and even an occlusive dressing. So, one product covering a ridiculous number of uses, it naturally belongs in this particular kit. To read my review of this book, click here.
The herbs described above address of a wide range of wounds, burns, intestinal infections, nausea, headaches, anxiety, mild to moderate pain, A salve for superficial wounds to heal and prevent infections, an antiviral, and an antibiotic. This is already a superior first aid kit compared to commercially prepared ones at your local big box store. Be sure to check back on Monday (9/8/14) for Part II, and Friday (9/12/14) for Part III of this series. Please check out all the other wonderful preparedness articles below that are also part of the 30 Days of Preparedness Event.
Thanks for joining the Prepared Bloggers as we work our way through 30 Days of Preparedness. September is National Preparedness Month so you will find everything you need to get your preparedness knowledge and skills into shape.
Take one post each day, learn as much as you can about the topic and make it a part of your preparedness plan.
Day 1 – Ready, Set, Get Prepared! Welcome to 30 Days of Preparedness from PreparednessMama
Day 2 – The Family Meeting Place and Escape from Laughingbear Adventures
Day 3 – I’m Safe! How to Communicate with Family in an Emergency from PreparednessMama
Day 4 – Does Your Family Have a Fire Escape Plan? from Home Ready Home
Day 5 – Preparedness For Pets from The Busy B Homemaker
Day 6 – The Escape Exercise from Laughingbear Adventures
Day 7 – It all Falls Apart Without Mental Preparedness from PreparednessMama
Day 8 – It’s a Matter of Emergency Kits from A Matter of Preparedness
Day 9 – Nine Great Emergency Light Sources Other Than Flashlights from Food Storage & Survival
Day 10 – Cooking Without Power from Mama Kautz
Day 11 – The Importance of a Shelter & Staying Warm and Dry from Trayer Wilderness
Day 12 – The Importance of Having The Right Tools In Your Pack from Trayer Wilderness
Day 13 – Practice Living Without Electricity from Food Storage Made Easy
Day 14 – How We Choose The Right Gear – (including the MultiFlame Tool) from Trayer Wilderness
Day 15 – Water Storage & Purification from The Busy B Homemaker
Day 16 – Food and Water for a 72 Hour “Go Bag” from Homestead Dreamer
Day 17 – 8 Foods You Should Be Storing and How from Melissa K Norris
Day 18 – Planning Your Pantry from The Organic Prepper
Day 19 – Stocking Up on Non-Food Items from Living in Rural Iowa
Day 20 – Dutch Oven Cooking: Off-Grid Before Off-Grid Was Cool from The Backyard Pioneer
Day 21 – Preserving and Canning the Harvest from Timber Creek Farm
Day 22 – Personal Protection & Awareness from Living in Rural Iowa
Day 23 – KISS First Aid from Herbal Prepper
Day 24 – Mommy, I have to go Potty! from Mom With a Prep
Day 25 – Fire Starting 101: The Why and How of Lighting a Fire for Survival from Food Storage & Survival
Day 26 – How to Filter and Purify Water from Prepared Housewives
Day 27 – How To Make A Shelter from Trayer Wilderness
Day 28 – Put Your Preps to the Test with 24 Hours Unplugged from The Organic Prepper
Day 29 – What Is Char and Why You Should Have It To Start A Fire from Trayer Wilderness
Day 30 – How To Utilize Bushcraft Skills and Forage From The Wild from Trayer Wilderness
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