3 herbal helpers for home first aid
Herbal first aid may sound like a contradiction in terms. But herbs are not always slow and gradual-acting, and numerous forms of plant medicine can be used to great effect in acute situations, especially the everyday ones like headaches, digestive upset, coughs and colds, and muscle aches, where we are otherwise trained to pop a pill or buy something in a tube or bottle from the pharmacy.
But that usually isn't necessary. In fact, with these three herbs that you probably already have at home, you can treat a wide range of common complaints quickly, easily and cheaply—without waste or side effects.
Chamomile: a cup of chamomile tea is an under-appreciated remedy for all kinds of upsets, from an unhappy tummy to emotional crises. Chamomile can also help unwind the tension of cramps and sore muscles. Finally, cooled chamomile tea bags applied to the eyes will reduce redness and puffiness.
Lavender essential oil: can be applied neat to minor burns; otherwise always blend with a carrier oil such as olive or coconut. Rub on palms of hands and soles of feet to calm a racing mind and/or fall asleep. For headaches it can be helpful to massage lavender oil + carrier oil onto the temples and back of the neck.
Thyme: gargle with an infusion of thyme to soothe a sore throat or put your head over a bowl of it as a steam inhalation to clear out infections of the upper respiratory tract. (To infuse thyme, use the herb as though it were a loose herbal tea - put it in a tea baller or bag and pour hot water over it.) The antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral properties of thyme are intensified in the essential oil, making it a useful addition to DIY mouthwash or hand sanitiser.
Having said all of that, before treating any particular set of symptoms, recall that the symptoms are not the problem itself. They are notifications, alerting you to a problem you might not be aware of otherwise. So if you have a headache, for example, it could be a sign of dehydration, lack of sleep, or overwork. If your stomach is upset, it might be an emotional issue you're having trouble 'digesting', and so forth.
Even when herbs act quickly, the opportunity they give us is to slow our thinking down and address the whole person and the whole situation rather than medicating symptoms.