Knowing how to take care of your temple is essential to optimal living. When it comes to first aid we often use harmful chemicals to cleanse, suppress and heal our afflictions. What if all we had to do was look in our backyard? That's just what our ancestors use to do, by practicing herbal first aid. Join us as we go through common herbs that can be safe and cheaper alternatives than common first aids.
Plantain (Plantago Major)
Plantain is native to Europe and West Asia. It is also called "White man's foot." Because the Native Americans say it followed the European colonialists as they traveled west. Originally it cultivated in monasteries and botanical gardens for bird feed and human use. Carolus Linnaeus (creator of modern taxonomy) named the species in 1753 You can use the roots, leaves, flowers, and seeds for medicinal uses although for first aid typically the leaves are used only. Pluck fresh leaves and crush with water, or spit (after rinsing the mouth with salt water to clean) and place on insect bites and stings. It also may help with minor cuts and wounds. When taken internally in excess it may cause laxative effects and should not be used during pregnancy.
Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium)
In the story of the Illiad, Homer states that Achilles traveled with yarrow and used the herb to stop his men from bleeding out. Thus it received its botanical name from Achilles. Although the Illiad is a myth there was truth in their usage of yarrow. Yarrow is native to Europe and has been known to slow the bleeding and provide pain relief. Making it an excellent first aid herb. Achilletin and Achilleine found in Yarrow are the active constituents that spur blood coagulation. Yarrow is generally safe when used topically although some do have allergic reactions especially those allergic to ragweed.
Lavender (Lavandula Augustofolia)
Lavender is native to Europe and Northern Africa. In ancient times it was known as Nard so in the bible it is referred to as Spikenard, in reference to the flower's spikes. Lavender comes from the Latin word Lavare meaning "to wash." It was common to bathe with lavender as It was considered a purifier for the mind, body, and spirit. Lavender has been used as a sleep aid, tranquilizer, and anti-anxiety for ages. In the 1920s French "fragrance chemist" Rene-Maurice Gattefosse burned himself experimenting in his lab. Leading him to submerge his hand into a bowl of lavender oil. The oil surprisingly provided him with immediate relief and expedited his healing process. Thus he dedicated his life to studying essential oils from that point forward coining the term aromatherapy. Coupled with its anti-microbial effects Lavender makes an excellent herb to use for herbal first aid. Note Lavender oil should NOT be ingested by anyone! Women should be wary of using it while pregnant or nursing and some people report allergic relations. Generally, Lavender is considered safe for overall usage.
The New book of Healing Herbs by Michael Castleman
ACHS Herb 202 Handbook