Ahhh …. the warm days are finally here. As families start to prepare for their summer vacation, I get lots of inquiries about natural first aid remedies for the entire family. Below you will find a list of my favourite natural must-haves that may be handy while you travel or spend time outdoors in the summer months. The naturopathic first aid kit contains remedies for most common acute ailments, such as motion sickness, sunburns, insect bites, poison ivy, food poisoning, bumps and bruises, etc.
– Ginger capsules or chews can help to treat or prevent nausea and vomiting
– Cocculus indicus (30C potency) is one of the most popular homeopathic remedies for symptoms of motion sickness, such as nausea and dizziness that can arise from travel in a car, boat, train, etc. Dissolve 3 pellets under the tongue three times per day while symptoms persist, up to 7 days.
Food Poisoning and Digestive Health
– Arsenicum album homeopathic (30C potency) is indicated for food poisoning and its related symptoms (i.e. diarrhea, vomiting, nausea). Dissolve 3 pellets under the tongue three times per day while symptoms persist, up to 7 days. Once the worst of food poisoning is over, you can transition to activated charcoal, ginger and/or Saccharomyces boulardii.
– Activated charcoal is a poison antidote, so can be used for any poisoning, diarrhea and digestive upset. It is a fine black powder that binds to toxins and reduces its absorption. Great to have on hand if you have small children who can accidentally ingest toxins or household chemicals. Charcoal may turn your stool black and absorb medications, reducing their efficacy temporarily.
– Saccharomyces boulardii is non-pathogenic probiotic yeast that helps relieve traveler’s diarrhea and it doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
– Ginger can improve digestion, relieve nausea and heartburn, as well as soothe coughs and colds. Steep ginger in hot water and drink as a tea, or dissolve chewable tablets in your mouth or take capsules, which are typically more concentrated and contain less sugar than the chews.
– Probiotics will help to increase good bacteria in your gut and support the immune system, since 70-80% of the immune system is located in your digestive tract. Traveling exposes us to new and different bacteria, and a daily probiotic, even a few weeks before travel, can help prevent digestive upset and the stomach flu. Best to choose shelf-stable probiotics.
DEET is a common toxin used in most bug sprays, and has been shown to cause neurological damage in adults and children. Here are some DEET-free options;
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) is eliminated by the skin, and in large doses it may produce odour, not detectable by humans, that can repel mosquitos and other insects. It is recommended to take B1 two weeks before travel, 50 to 100 mg per day.
Solvarome (Unda) is an essential oil blend that combines cypress, lavender, geranium, rosemary and garden thyme extract. Put 50 drops in a glass spray bottle, at least 8 ounces. Spray on the skin as need, avoiding the eyes and mucous membranes.
Natrapel – botanical based formula with active ingredient Citriodol, derived from lemon eucalyptus trees.
TerraShield – blend of essential oils and other plant oils
You can also make your own insect repellent using witch-hazel and few drops of some of these essential oils; lavender, peppermint, lemongrass, eucalyptus, citronella and/ rosemary. Essential oils don’t mix well with just water, so you will want to mix them with apple cider vinegar or a bit of alcohol first, and then add the witch hazel and then add it to some water. Pour all ingredients in a glass spray bottle and Voila! – You have created a safe and DEET-free mosquito and bug repellant.
Insect Bites and Stings
Apis homeopathic (30C potency) – ideal for acute insect bites and stings, especially if there are hives, swelling, burning and heat. This is especially handy on camping trips or when traveling to tropical destinations where insects are abundant.
Solvarome (Unda) can be used to soothe irritated skin and minimize bug bites. It can also be used to clean out skin scrapes and cuts, since it is all-around anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial skin treatment.
Protect your skin from sunburn using clothing, shade and toxin-free sunscreen. Avoid aerosol spray or powders, and sunscreen containing vitamin A, also called retinyl palmitate or retinol, as these may carry adverse health effects down the road. You should also avoid products containing oxybenzone, a synthetic estrogen that can disrupt your hormones. Instead, look for a mineral based cream containing zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, 3% avobensone or Mexoryl SX, which will protect your skin from harmful UVA radiation. Visit Environmental Working Group Skin Deep database (http://www.ewg.org) to help you pick the right sunscreen for you.
Aloe vera can help soothe the skin, especially if it is preservative free or used directly from a plant.
Witch Hazel has tannins which can help reduce swelling, repair damaged skin and ward off bacteria.
Bath with Oats and Lavender – Grind oatmeal to a fine powder and add 10-15 drops of Lavender essential oil, which works like an anti-inflammatory. Stay in the tub for 10 minutes maximum, since longer bath time may dry out the skin.
Bumps and Bruises
Arnica cream or tablets are always good to have handy for any bumps and bruises.
Start preparing your own natural first aid kits now, so that when summer rolls around you are ready to enjoy a stress-free outdoor experience.