Many people know that I am a technician for the sport of fencing. I love it … I get to play with tools but most of all, socialize with friends at tournaments. However, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m a klutz par excellence. I volunteered at the National Championships over the weekend and after three days, I’m going to take my own advice: make up an herbal first aid kit to put into my tool kit with the bandaids I normally carry. Yes, each large tournament has trainers who can administer an antibacterial salve and a bandage to my cuts & scrapes but every product they use is made with synthetic chemicals.
The contents of my first aid kit will include:
Arnica Cream: I have four huge bruises on my legs where I’ve banged them with the frames used in wheelchair fencing. If I’d had arnica cream on hand, they probably wouldn’t have gotten quite as large. You can use a tincture, as well. Arnica should only be used externally and never on broken skin. It’s also helpful for strains & sprains.
Calendula Salve: Calendula is an excellent antiseptic and healing herb. This I will use in place of the commercial antibacterial salve the trainers use on cuts & scrapes. A Calendula tincture can be used as well, but should be diluted one part tincture to ten parts water before use. Calendula should never be used if there is a sign of infection – it will heal the skin before the infection clears.
Capsicum Cream: Helpful for overworked muscles. Works as well as a heating pad and doesn’t require a 500-foot extension cord.
Witch Hazel Extract: Counteracts bleeding when used externally as a poultice or a wash (could’ve used this when I stabbed myself with a screwdriver – I wouldn’t have bled all over what I was working on). For “normal” first aid kits, this is also soothing to a sunburn.
Lavender Essential Oil: Helpful to soothe burns from soldering irons, or other scalds or burns. It will help heal the burn quickly, too, and a couple of drops of oil on a hotel pillowcase will help me sleep better. I’ll be sure to have pure Lavender oil, not “Lavandin” as the two oils have different chemical constituents.
And just in case I’m at a local tournament and there’s no trainer around, I’ll also carry:
Clove Essential Oil: Wonderful for a toothache until you can get to a dentist. Put a couple of drops on a small piece of cotton (or cotton swab) and hold it against the affected tooth or rub directly on the painful area.
Bach Rescue Remedy: Keep on hand as a remedy for shock, panic or unconsciousness. Useful for animals as well as humans. Administer this after you have called 911. If the person is unconscious, moisten the lips with the remedy. It will also help bystanders that are starting to panic.
Apis 30c: A homeopathic remedy that is good for bee stings & hives. This you can use internally.
Symphytum 30c: Another homeopathic remedy to keep on hand for fractures, other bone injuries and black eyes (and other bruising).
Hypericum 30c: Indicated where there is injury to nerves, torn nails or extensive laceration. A tincture of Hypericum (St. Johns Wort) can be used externally on wounds that have become infected.
Vitamin E Cream: Helps heal wounds and cuts, and minimizes scarring.
I’ll use my own products where I can and purchase the rest from trusted sources. All these items are available at local health food stores or around the Internet. Many chain stores are also starting to carry “herbal” remedies but be sure to read the ingredient list before purchasing. I’ve looked at some and still can’t pronounce most of the list.
Always be sure to carry a cell phone and call 911 if the injury is serious! Mine lives in my back pocket next to a bunch of tools. I need to get a belt case for my phone – the tools scratch the screen … sigh.