Herbal First Aid Kit

I would like to share with you all my herbal first aid kit and the uses that the herbs and oils have for different ailments.  A herbal first aid kit is great to have on hand for your family, I like to take a smaller pack when I am outdoors exploring nature.  The smaller kit is also great for festivals and other adventures.

100% pure Lavender essential oil 10ml                    Clean dressings

Arnica cream (travel size)                                         Plasters

Nettle tincture 100ml                                                 Tuba-grip

Myrrh tincture 30ml                                                   Chamomile tea bags

Honey (travel size jar)                                               Rosemary tincture

Bicarbonate of soda (small pouch)                          Tweezers

Vinegar 10ml                                                            Safety pins

Comfrey cream (travel size)                                    Pain killers (your choice)

Allergies: nettle tincture

Nettles have an anti-histamine effect helping to reduce inflammation and allergies

Nettles have an anti-histamine effect helping to reduce inflammation and allergies

Bites: I also turn to plantain for any form of bites, this can be from gnats, fleas or other animals.  You can chew up a leaf (or mash it to extract the moisture) and then apply it to the bite to reduce swelling. Lavender essential oil can also be used. Add lavender essential oil to rosemary tincture to make an effective insect repellent and soother for insect bites.

Bleeding: To stop bleeding plantain leaves can be harvested from almost any green area of land.  I turn to plantain and yarrow when cut outdoors.  Once I cut myself to the bone with my pen knife repairing a friend’s electric fencing for her horses.  We were miles from any assistance, plantain leaves help to stop the bleeding and bind the flesh.  I was good to go in 5 minutes despite it being on a finger joint.

This is Plantago major, but P, lanceolata can also be used.  The key to identification is to look for leaf ribs which are parallel to each other

This is Plantago major, but P, lanceolata can also be used. The key to identification is to look for leaf ribs which are parallel to each other

Bruises: Arnica cream is great for supporting the resolution of bruising.  If you or your family have hurt themselves and you feel that it might bruise then you can apply arnica cream to the area.  You do not have to wait till a bruise has developed although in some instances the bruising process can be instantaneous.

Burns and scalds: Where possible place the burned skin under running water for ten minutes or plunge it into cold water (A chemical burn needs 20 minutes). I have burnt myself cooking and ironing many a time and I always turn to lavender essential oil, although it is an oil I find that it cools the burn and helps to reduce the pain.  If the burn is as large as or larger than the palm of the hands then please seek medical attention as soon as possible.  Do not put anything on a burn of this size as it may compromise the possibility of a skin graft.  Children and diabetics should always go to hospital.  Never prick a blister due to risk of secondary infection.  Other herbal treatments to help improve burns are aloe vera and a cold compress of chamomile tea.

Chamomile can be bought in tea bags from your local supermarket for ease of transportation and use

Chamomile can be bought in tea bags from your local supermarket for ease of transportation and use

Cuts: If you or a family member cuts themselves, where possible clean the wound, apply pressure and elevate the limb.  Lavender essential oil can be applied to a cut, it is antiseptic and can promote healing.  Comfrey cream can be used to heal the cut if it is shallow.  If it is deep the comfrey may close the wound to fast can cause an abscess. (See bleeding)

Indigestion: Chamomile tea can help to soothe heartburn and indigestion

Prickly heat: Nettle tincture taken internally will help to reduce the inflammation.  Prickly heat is down to clogged sweat glands which is an indicator of poor elimination within the body.  Increase your intake of water and reduce sugar and junk food intake.

Septic wounds: Apply tincture of myrrh neat to the wound using a clean dressing.  If you cannot get to a primary care provider it would be worth taking the myrrh tincture internally as well to support your body in reducing the risk of septicaemia

The myrrh tree growing wild - ensure that you purchase cultivated sources and not wild-crafted

The myrrh tree growing wild – ensure that you purchase cultivated sources and not wild-crafted

Shock: lavender essential oil apply to the collar of the person affected to allow the aromatic oils to calm them.

Sore throat: You can dilute the myrrh tincture with water and gargle with is like a mouth wash.

Splinters: apply honey to the area and cover with a plaster, the honey acts as a drawing agent to bring the splinter to the surface, it also provides an antibacterial and antifungal layer of protection to prevent infection.  If you are outdoors and there are pine trees in the area the resin from the tree has a similar drawing agent and is antiseptic.

Sprains/strains: Comfrey cream is excellent to support the healing and repair of sprains and strains.  It is best to rest and elevate them (where possible), apply cold compresses to bring down the swelling.  If you have to use the joint affected support it with a tuba-grip.

Stings: If you are stung by a bee you need to neutralise the acid – bicarbonate of soda is alkaline, create a paste with a little water and apply to the sting.  Wasps and jelly fish stings are alkaline and require vinegar to neutralise them.

I hope that you find this useful.  Please share with others who may also benefit.  Also I look forward to hearing you feedback and what other botanicals you use in situations such as the ones described above.

 

How to make a cream

Now then fellow bloggers.  I hope that you are all enjoying the glorious weather!  It’s amazing.  I can’t wait to finish up and have an ice cream in the sunshine :)I’m also really looking forward to giving another herb walk tomorrow.  The walk is based in Grimsby, everyone meets opposite the Vansen Centre on Bradley Road at 1pm.  It is £5 with under 16’s attending for free but this also includes sampling a herbal tea and tasting several tinctures of plants that you will discover on the walk.  Children and pet’s are welcome.  You get a couple of hours out exploring ancient woodland and discovering wild foods and medicines, how to harvest them, what you can do with them and how to use them 🙂 Great fun.

Anyway… enough about the herb walk… I am continuing my series of how to make herbal preparations/remedies.  Last week I showed you all how to make a tincture.  This week I am going to show you how to make one from scratch.  Creams are lovely.  Once you know how to make them you can adapt the ingredients to suit whatever health requirement you need.  I make creams from scratch for several of my patients.  This includes a refreshing, cooling and anti-inflammatory face cream, a cream to reduce spots and pimples, one for eczema and a cream for people who enjoy the outdoors to help with bites, stings, cuts and scrapes.

Calendula officinalis is an amazing herb which supports and speeds healing

Calendula officinalis is an amazing herb which supports and speeds healing

The difference between a cream and a lotion is the water content.  The more water is added to the recipe the more runny the cream will become.  Creams are made from blending oils and waters together.  They are described as Phase 1 and Phase 2 in most recipes.  Creams are not for internal use but are for direct application onto the skin.

Here I have chosen to make a Green Tea lotion to show you all how to make one yourself.  I have listed the ingredients for you in the proportions that I have used.  This will make over a kilogram of cream so please make sure that you have enough pots and/or jars to put it in once it is complete.  I have decided to use green tea as it is a source of natural antioxidants (which is great for the skin) and it contains caffeine which has been used by models to reduce the appearance of cellulite.  (With the weather being so nice it would be great to get my legs out in confidence).

Ingredients:

Coconut oil is solid but quickly melts at body temperature.

Coconut oil is solid but quickly melts at body temperature.

Here is a photo of the coconut oil - in todays weather a spoon is required - If I used by fingers it would immediately melt

Here is a photo of the coconut oil – in todays weather a spoon is required – If I used by fingers it would immediately melt

Glycerin can be from animal or vegetable sources, food grade or not.  This was purchased from Boots and is food grade, vegetable glycerin.

Glycerin can be from animal or vegetable sources, food grade or not. This was purchased from Boots and is food grade, vegetable glycerin.

This is my essential ingredient when making creams or lotions

This is my essential ingredient when making creams or lotions

Emulsifying wax does what it says on the packet - it helps the oil and water to emulsify together forming the cream or lotion.

Emulsifying wax does what it says on the packet – it helps the oil and water to emulsify together forming the cream or lotion.

I purchased by Green Tea from a herbalist supplier.  You can purchase herbs online or from myself.

I purchased by Green Tea from a herbalist supplier. You can purchase herbs online or from myself.

The green tea is loose and cut.  The supplier ensures that it reaches a certain standard with regards to the active constituents too.

The green tea is loose and cut. The supplier ensures that it reaches a certain standard with regards to the active constituents too.

Water phase (Phase 1):

50g Green Tea cut herb

800ml Spring water

Oil phase (Phase 2):

20ml Glycerin

20ml Coconut oil

125ml Olive oil

100ml Grapeseed oil

10 drops Geranium essential oil

30 drops Black pepper essential oil

40 drops Bay leaf essential oil

50ttp Eucalyptus essential oil

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the procedure that I used to make over a kilogram of green tea lotion:

First I measured out 50 grams of Green tea.  I then placed it in a clean and sterilised saucepan.

First I measured out 50 grams of Green tea. I then placed it in a clean and sterilised saucepan.

I then measured out 500ml of the spring water and covered the herb with it ensuring that the green tea all got wet.

I then measured out 500ml of the spring water and covered the herb with it ensuring that the green tea all got wet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the water phase of the cream or lotion.  The key to getting the oils and water to emulsify is to have them both at the same temperature.  Therefore I make a herbal infusion in the saucepan and melt the oils together in a glass bowel on top of the saucepan.

Once you have immersed the herb in the water you can place a glass bowel over the saucepan to make a bain marie or double boiler.

Once you have immersed the herb in the water you can place a glass bowel over the saucepan to make a bain marie or double boiler.

I then measured out 20ml of coconut oil

I then measured out 20ml of coconut oil

 

Added 20ml of glycerin

Added 20ml of glycerin

Reset the scales and measured out 32g of emulsifying wax.

Reset the scales and measured out 32g of emulsifying wax.

The final oil to be added to this mixture is the olive oil.

The final oil to be added to this mixture is the olive oil.

You can then add all of the measured oils to the glass bowel and turn on the heat source (in my case a gas hob)

You can then add all of the measured oils to the glass bowel and turn on the heat source (in my case a gas hob)

Do not overheat the mixture as you do not want to destroy the active principles of the green tea infusion before in haste to melt the oils.

Do not overheat the mixture as you do not want to destroy the active principles of the green tea infusion before in haste to melt the oils.

Stir continuously, this is to agitate the oil mixture speeding up the melting process but also so that you can keep an eye on the temperature of the herbal preparation - if you feel it is too hot turn it down.

Stir continuously, this is to agitate the oil mixture speeding up the melting process but also so that you can keep an eye on the temperature of the herbal preparation – if you feel it is too hot turn it down.

As you can see they are starting to melt - the emulsifying wax has more rounded edges.

As you can see they are starting to melt – the emulsifying wax has more rounded edges.

Nearly there - keep stirring.  If you are a fan of quantum physics, or mysticism or spiritual this is the time to focus positive thoughts into the lotion/cream

Nearly there – keep stirring. If you are a fan of quantum physics, or mysticism or spiritual this is the time to focus positive thoughts into the lotion/cream

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The oils have now all melted. It is time to turn off the heat. Be careful as the glass bowel will be hot.

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Strain the green tea into a measuring jug using a sieve/strainer/muslin cloth. Measure how much liquid has evaporated as part of the heating process and top up with cold water back to 500ml.

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Pour the oil mixture into a clean bowel and slowly add the herbal infusion whisking constantly. The mixture will froth up. This is normal, it is partly because you are adding air to the mixture and partly because it is emulsifying. The mixture will be very warm from being on the heat source. I therefore add 300ml of spring water once I have finished adding the herbal infusion. This should be done bit by bit and will cool the mixture.

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As the lotion/cream starts to cool down it will thicken. Once you are whisking and you can see whisk lines in the mixture and the bowel is at a tepid temperature then you can add the grapeseed oil and the essential oils. I have added the grapeseed oil as a preservative.

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The finished product. Creams should be kept out of direct sunlight and in an airtight sealed jar. Do not put it in a container until it has fully cooled as it will continue to thicken. You don’t want to put it in a glass or hard walled container with a thin neck and then not be able to get it out.

Once you have realised how satisfying it is to make creams you will happily experiment.  I have citrus body lotions, conditioners, bath melts, intensive hair repair oil melts, face creams, eye creams, foot creams and many more in my household.  I find it is fun to do with my daughter (when I am not making medicine for patients but creams for personal use).  Experiment adding herbs to the oil mixture, the water mixture, try floral waters, try different essential oils, invest in Vitamin E oil which is excellent for skin and another great preservative.

To make a cream, omit the olive oil and reduce the water by 300ml.

This recipe can be reduced down to make a smaller batch or multiplied up to make a larger batch.  You can even make a non fragranced batch and scent it with essential oils in smaller batches as you use it.

If you don’t want to make your own herbal creams and lotions I will happily make them for you.  I can tailor the creams to your specifications or your health needs.

If you live in Grimsby and Cleethorpes I can offer one to one sessions in your home showing you how to make creams and lotions.  There is also the possibility of workshops in the near future.