While bandages, saline and gauze swabs are all important pieces to include in your first aid kit, there are a few other useful components to a first aid kit that you may have not considered yet, like natural herbal remedies. Going the natural route when treating minor scrapes and injuries can have many benefits, and if you are looking to reduce the chemicals you rely on to disinfect or soothe these injuries, you’re in the right place! Here are the top herbs to have on hand that can (and should) be added to your all-natural first aid kit.

Comfrey

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Comfrey has an excellent healing effect and ability to reduce inflammation when applied to the skin, which means you can create an easy-to-make comfrey poultice if you sprain a joint, bruise your skin, or suffer from arthritis! To make a comfrey poultice all you need to do is chop or blend comfrey leaves until a mush-like substance is formed. Then fold the mush in a fine cloth, making a pack large enough for the affected area. Apply to the area of the skin, and bandage to keep poultice in place if required. Apply a new poultice every two hours and never ingest comfrey internally!

Eucalyptus

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Probably one of the most well known essential oils, eucalyptus is widely used to soothe respiratory problems including coughs, colds, runny nose and even asthma! You can purchase Eucalyptus oil at your local aromatherapy store, and all you need to do is rub 1-3 drops of the oil on your chest to allow the aroma to dilate the blood vessels in your nose and throat, allowing you to breathe much more easily and get lots more oxygen into your system!

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Ginger

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Well known for its ability to alleviate nausea, particularly morning sickness in pregnant women, ginger is a very useful remedy to have on hand. Ginger can also be used to treat sore throats, period pain, and indigestion. Ginger is usually consumed internally as fresh ginger juice, throat lozenges or ginger capsules to treat the above ailments, however, you can create a ginger poultice to treat pain caused by osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel, and other sprains. Bare in mind that ginger is a very potent herb, so you will only need a very small amount to see benefits! 

Plantain

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Most people are able to find plantain in their own backyard; unfortunately you might confuse this herb with a weed and overlook its fantastic healing properties. Plantain has many different medicinal uses including its ability to treat indigestion, heartburn, rashes, cuts, insect bites. You can even make a tea out of plantain and then spray it onto mosquito bites to alleviate that irritating itch!  

Tea Tree Oil

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This one is native to Australia, however, you can also get your hands on it overseas too. Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic and is distilled from the leaves of the Melaleuca plant. You can use tea tree oil topically to treat fungal infections such as Athlete’s Foot; it can also be used to relieve minor cuts, bites, and stings. If you mix it with a dilution of water (about two drops to two ounces of water) it can be used as a natural hand disinfectant or even sprayed in your shoes to fight off odors. You can use this dilution as a topical astringent to treat minor acne, but keep in mind that tea tree oil can be a bit harsh, so if you experience redness or peeling, do not continue to use it. 

Chamomile

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An excellent soothing and calming herb, chamomile can be used for anxiety, nausea, stomach cramps, and conjunctivitis, among other things. Most commonly prepared as an herbal tea, chamomile can also be used externally to soothe the eyes by soaking cotton make-up pads in cold Chamomile tea, squeezing out excess liquid and applying the make-up pads to the eyelids while laying back and relaxing for 5-1o minutes.

Echinacea

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Echinacea is most commonly used to fight colds, coughs, and respiratory tract infections. Echinacea is also effective in treating urinary tract infections, ear infections and sinusitis. The most simple way to prepare echinacea is as an herbal tea. You can also make an expressed juice out of the plant. If you are taking immunosuppressants, you shouldn’t use any echinacea remedies!

Calendula

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The medicinal actions of calendula include reducing swelling and inflammation, reducing oiliness, promoting healing, stopping the growth of fungi and bacteria, and stimulating blood flow. Calendula is also able to stimulate white blood cells to give your immune system a boost when fighting microbial invaders. It is a very powerful antiseptic, promoting granulation and healing in wounds, and it’s great antiseptic properties make for excellent use in first aid as a cream

Elderberry

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Another quite versatile herb, elderberry can be used internally to treat colds and externally to treat cuts, wounds and skin abrasions. As the name of this herb suggests, the berry of the Elder plant is the part used medicinally. You can pick up some Elderberry at your local health food store in the form of tablets, or you can prepare your own Elderberry tea.

While these herbs are all excellent for medicinal use, it is important to remember to seek advice from your healthcare professional if symptoms persist, or if you’re unsure about anything!

Lead image source: Jordan Meeter/Flickr