Despite our best attempts to live a healthy and toxin free life, there are times when illness or injury strikes. In some of these cases (like trauma) conventional medical treatment is certainly warranted, and I’m certainly grateful that medical treatment is available if needed.
But what about the times when the illness or injury is not life-threatening, but merely uncomfortable or limiting?
The following is a list of what you’ll find in my “medicine” cabinet and natural first aid kit. It is a combination of remedies I’ve tested myself, ones suggested by a naturopathic doctor, and ones that I hope to never need!
Please note that I am not a doctor and don’t play one on the Internet, so this list is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used as a replacement for medical attention.
Remedies & Herbs in My Natural First Aid Kit
Before we start, keep in mind that I didn’t build up this list overnight! It took many years of research and trial and error to find the remedies I use and trust the most.
Activated Charcoal- For acute use in food poisoning, intestinal illness, vomiting, diarrhea, ingestion of toxins, etc. Also, keep the local poison control number on hand in case a child ingests a toxic substance and immediately take a child to the hospital if he/she has swallowed a battery or magnet!
Arnica– Topical creme used for muscle pain or injury, bruises, or any type of trauma. We’ve found that it greatly reduced healing time or bruises and sore muscles when used topically right after an injury. Not for internal use or use on open cuts.
Homeopathics – Along with arnica (above), I keep a stash of Genexa homeopathic tablets on hand for helping kids with sleep, cold relief, and even anxiety.
Cayenne Powder– Though this is a good addition to many foods, it’s even better to have in a medicine cabinet. I keep a few cayenne capsules in my purse as well. Topically, cayenne powder helps stop bleeding rapidly. I’ve read cases of it being taken internally during heart attacks to increase blood flow and help clear blockage, though thankfully, I’ve never had to test this one. It is also a useful remedy to take internally during illness as it is shown to increase blood flow and speed recovery (although I do not give it to children).
Chamomile– I use it to make a relaxing tincture that helps calm kids if they are ill or just have trouble sleeping. The tincture also works wonders on teething gums. The dried flowers can also be made into a poultice with some gauze and placed on an eye for 15 minutes every hour to help relieve pink eye (usually works in a couple of hours). Brewed as a tea, chamomile is a relaxing drink at night and the tea can be cooled and rubbed on the stomach of colicky infants to help soothe them. I sometimes add some brewed chamomile tea to the kid’s bath as it is great for the skin and promotes relaxation. I keep the tincture in my purse at all times.
Comfrey– An external herb that promotes healing from injuries and broken bones. A poultice made with plantain and comfrey that is placed on a wound can greatly reduce the healing time and help prevent and reverse infection. I make a homemade “Neosporin” with this and other herbs and use it on bug bites, cuts, bruises, and poison ivy. It is best to keep the dried herb on hand for poultices and homemade salves.
Eucalyptus Herb and Essential Oils– I keep these in my natural first aid kit for respiratory type problems. We use eucalyptus herb in a face steam for congestion or sinus troubles and I make a mild (and petroleum-free) version of Vapo-Rub for coughing and respiratory illness. The essential oil can be diluted with coconut oil or olive oil and be applied externally to the feet and chest to help open nasal passageways.
Ginger Capsules– Ginger is great for nausea, reflux, stomach trouble, and morning sickness. I also keep some in the car for motion sickness. It helps soothe the stomach after a digestive illness or food poisoning.
Echinacea– I keep a homemade echinacea tincture on hand for severe illnesses. I don’t use it as a first resort, but it is helpful in prolonged illnesses.
Peppermint Herb and Essential Oil– Another great digestive herb. For upset stomach or digestive illness, the herb is made into tea. The tincture can be used internally or externally for headaches. When combined with a few other digestive herbs, it makes a highly effective digestive aid and nausea remedy. We also use this essential oil in our homemade toothpaste.
Plantain– You’ve probably pulled this as a weed without knowing it! I keep the dried herb on hand at all times to make into a poultice for poison ivy, bites, stings, cuts, and infection. In a pinch, I’ve picked some from the ground, chewed it, and put it on a bee sting for immediate pain relief.
Slippery Elm– Helpful for sore or irritated throat or when you lose your voice. These lozenges taste great and are helpful for kids with sore throats. The herb itself can be used in tinctures or teas for sore throat relief.
Apple Cider Vinegar– I keep a bottle of organic Apple Cider Vinegar with “the mother” on hand for digestive troubles, indigestion, food poisoning, and more. Taken in a dose of 1 teaspoon per 8 ounces of water every hour, it helps shorten the duration of any type of illness, though it is tough to get kids to take it willingly.
Vitamin C– Helpful for all illnesses, but especially flu-related illnesses. I keep the powder on hand because it is additive-free and can be mixed into food or drinks to get the kids to consume it.
Aloe Vera Plant– We have one growing in the house for burns and blisters.
Epsom Salt– Good as a bath soak for sore muscles. Dissolved in water, it can also be a good soak to help remove splinters.
Hydrogen Peroxide– I keep several bottles on hand at all times. It’s perfect for disinfecting, cleaning small cuts, and in my homemade OxyClean. Personally, I also use a dropper full of hydrogen peroxide in the ear at the first sign of ear infection (but check with your doctor first). I leave the peroxide in for 15 minutes or until it stops bubbling and then repeat on the other side.
Homemade Neosporin– I make my own “boo-boo” lotion as my kids call it (no petroleum needed). I keep it in small tins and in lip chap containers for on-the-go size. I use this on cuts, bruises, rashes, and anything else antibiotic ointment could be used on.
Witch Hazel– I keep a gallon on hand for use on cuts, scrapes, and cosmetic uses. It makes a great skin toner and is good for the postpartum bottom. 🙂
Gelatin– I take gelatin regularly for its health benefits, but I also keep it on hand for first aid and illness. The natural gelatin in homemade chicken soup (from the bones and tissue) is one of the things that makes it so nourishing during illness. During any type of illness, the afflicted gets gelatin in various ways: in food, homemade jello, smoothies, and hot tea.
Baking Soda– Also a good remedy to keep on hand. For severe heartburn or urinary tract infections, 1/4 tsp can be taken internally to help alleviate quickly. It can also be made into a poultice and used on sider bites.
Probiotics– These are the probiotics we use during any illness and afterward to repair gut bacteria. I’ve seen clients improve skin conditions with regular use of probiotics, and I especially recommend them to pregnant mothers, as newborn babies receive their gut bacteria from their mothers. For children who get constant illness and ear infections, probiotics can also really help.
Coconut Oil– From skin salve to diaper creme, makeup remover, and even antifungal treatment, coconut oil is great to have around! I keep some in the natural first aid kit to add remedies to take internally, use in tinctures, and apply externally to dry skin and chapped lips.
A Better-for-You Medicine Cabinet
The only actual medicines you’ll find in my cabinet comes from Genexa and their line of no dye, no preservative, additive-free medicines. They have everything from pain reliever to saline, as well as homeopathic medicines. You may also be able to find these in a local pharmacy near you!
Other Natural First Aid Kit Supplies
- Patch Bandages- These bandages are made from 100% organic bamboo and are enriched with coconut oil.
- Butterfly Bandages
- Superglue– On minor to moderate skin cuts (not puncture wounds) use superglue and butterfly bandages. I’ve used this instead of stitches several times and it healed faster and left less scarring than the places I’ve had stitches. This especially works for the face and other visible areas that scar easily or in the hair where other bandages can be difficult to apply. I’ve also used it on fingertips or knuckles (I’m infamous for grating knuckles while cooking) or other places where band-aids won’t stay well.
- Strips of sterilized muslin cloth in plastic bags for wrapping wounds.
- Cut off wool sleeves from old sweaters to cover bandages and hold ice packs
- Hot water bottle
- Enema kit
- Bulb syringe and NoseFrida for helping with congestion in children
- Homemade ice pack (just freeze liquid dish soap or rubbing alcohol in a double-bagged- ziplock bag and use as an ice pack.
Learn how to store and organize your natural remedies here.
This article was medically reviewed by Madiha Saeed, MD, a board certified family physician. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Do you use any natural remedies for illness or first aid? Share your tips below!
Discussion (156 Comments)
Any suggestions on internal pain (as in, menstrual cramps)? I can’t live without my advil for those four days every month…
taking magnesium regularly may help the cramps eventually go away. Also, a natural progesterone cream (applied to arms, stomach, legs, etc) for the second half of each cycle often really helps the cramps. If it is really bad though, I’d take the advil rather than have the stress of being in pain and annoyed. I take about 4 advil total after each baby to get past the after cramps too…
Arnica pellets are amazing for afterbirth pains, maybe they’d work for cramps?
GLA is great for prevention of cramps and all things PMS related. I didn’t believe it until I tried it.
Cool, haven’t seen a recommendation for GLA for dysmenorrhea before & I’ve been reading up on that for MONTHS. Thanks for another avenue to explore.
Right now I’m trying Maca capsules & raspberry leaf tea, so we’ll see if those help. The most relief I’ve personally received has been with Vitex throughout the month & Black Cohosh a couple days before until the last day of symptoms. A couple days before, I take about 30mls 3x/day. As soon as my period starts, I’ll drop it down to 5-10 drops, but every hour or two. It’s ends up equalling the same dosage at the end of the day. For me, Black Cohosh has worked better than Cramp Bark & usually herbalists rave about Cramp Bark. Either way though, it gets me through without any using any pills. (I used to take 800mg every 5 hrs, plus tylenol sometimes — waay too much.)
I’ve also heard Black Haw is best for cramps with a heavy flow, but I haven’t had the opportunity to try it yet. If the Maca doesn’t help, that’ll be my next experiment.
A drop or two of clary sage essential oil dissolved in half a teaspoon of carrier oil (coconut, sweet almond, grapeseed, emu, etc.) and rubbed on the lower belly works wonders on menstrual cramps.
My daughter has recently started using an application of Clary Sage EO to her stomach and feet. She hasn’t gone far enough into her cycle yet to tell if it’s working., though. She has pretty bad endometriosis so is really hoping it helps.
Do you have a brand of progesterone cream that you recommend? Thanks!
It’s hard to find a good one. Dr. Anna Cabeca who makes Mighty Maca has a good one.
Quicksilver Scientific just came out with an excellent nano emulsion progesterone cream. They also have an Estradiol. So far so good for me!
Dong Quai Red Date Tea works wonders for me
If you must take an OTC med, Naproxyn/Alleve targets menstrual pain more specifically than Ibuprofen/Advil. It acts directly on two of the prostaglandins, the imbalance in which causes cramping of the uterus.
Ginger is known for it’s pain relieving properties and a recent study showed it to be as or MORE effective than NSAIDs. Take it as a tea, tincture, in capsules or, my favorite, in a bath.
Run a bath and add a couple cups, or more, of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) along with some ginger essential oil or straight up powdered ginger. Have a cup of ginger tea while you soak!
Cayenne can also be taken internally via capsules. It is known for its pain relieving properties as well. Just be sure to take with food or you will feel even worse!
Calcium and magnesium starting five days before your period
Also epsom salts baths if you are crampy
I know this is an old post, but I can’t help but share this b/c I used to be so bad w/ cramps, I would get physically sick unless I constantly took advil.
Meta i-3-C (from Metagenics); it’s a dietary supplement and it’s helped me with a lot of symptoms (PMS, strong cramps, etc). I had barely need the advil anymore. I take it twice a day per dr recommendation.
For menstrual cramps I’ve not found anything that works better than blue cohosh. It’s amazing!
Black cohosh is used for menopause isn’t it? So what is the real difference between the two colors?
Cramp bark tincture for menstrual cramps works great. 1-2 tsp every 3-4 hours
For menstrual pain I’ve been taking broad leaf plantain tincture regularly and have had wonderful results moderating my hormones and thus pain. I’ve seen lots of relief from menstrual distress by taking any kind of herb is used for cleaning the liver. Plantain got rid of my acne too.
I used to have the same issue, now I drink Tulsi or Holy Basil tea and the cramps go right away!
Nettle tea works wonder for me.
I read that if you eat a lot of carrots, your next menstrual period would be less painful. You can try it out.
Does regular Apple cider vinegar work for tummy troubles or does it have to have “the mother”?
It works but not quite as good
So what is “the mother”? And I was also wondering about the Echinacea you said you have handy but never used. Exactly what would you use it for?
Hi! Love your site, it keeps me inspired!
Just wondering about eh Hydrogen Peroxide for ear infections. Do you just put it in straight, or diluted? I have the 3% solution at home, and would love to try. My partner has been struggling with ear infections (and much more) over the last few weeks.
Thank you! Violet
Just undiluted 3% straight into the ear… even used it in the kids this way without problem.
Have you used tea tree oil mixed with coconut oil? I use it with my doctors endorsement. I don’t like H202 personally because it gets in my inner ear and makes me dizzy. My doc doesn’t like it because it can get trapped under wax it’s trying to dislodge and put pressure on the ear drum.
Great list! I also use a tincture of astragalus to keep the immune system healthy – as well as drinking echinecea tea regularly during cold/flu season. It must be working – everyone in my office is out with the flu and I’m still going strong. I think eating Paleo keeps the immune system strong.
I know you use Tropical Traditions, but do you use both the gold label and green label or one or the other? Just curious if maybe you use one to consume and one for various other applications?
We mainly use the gold label for food use and I’ve used all of the others for cosmetic use and all seem to be great for other applications. To save money, I just stick to the gold for eating…
I’ve been using coconut oil as a makeup remover and it works great (better than anything I’ve ever used) and is good for my dry skin. The only problem I have with it is that no matter how much I try to avoid it, my eyes are cloudy and fuzzy for hours afterward. It seeps in no matter what I do! How do you avoid this? Does anyone have any suggestions?
I use grapeseed oil and have great luck with removing my makeup.
Thank you so much for this. 🙂 It’s like you have my dream first aid kit in your own home! 🙂 Just a heads up-my mom uses witch hazel to soothe her sciatica! I am loving the list and, one day when I have this same first aid kit in my home, I’ll be printing it out to go inside the kit area for quick reference! Thank you!
Dawn, may I ask how your mom uses witch hazel for her sciatica? I also suffer from sciatica, and some days are difficult. Maybe her witch hazel remedy would be something helpful for me, if you wouldn’t mind sharing? Please? Thank you for your time dear.
wait, superglue on cuts? please elaborate.
Superglue is a great alternative to “stitching up” cuts than going to the doctors and getting stitches. Super Glue was originally used to help put together open wounds out on the battle field, mostly cuts. Just clean up the cut and apply the super glue. The glue will come off on it’s own eventually.
Oh, don’t apply the super glue over wool or cotton (cotton balls). It will generate a chemical reaction that heats up and releases a smoke. if the wool or cotton is on your skin, it could result in a chemical burn from the heat. This only happens when the glue is still wet, the glue is harmless when dry, and water proof.
Just hold them together and glue. Works wonders, doesn’t sting to apply and less bothersome than a bandage..
Sarah Jane Butcher
I had heard this but was too scared a Doc said it MUST be special derma-bond glue and ended up getting stitches for my son’s 2 facial cuts that were all the way clean to the skull(you could see white bone at the bottom of the wound and the surgical tape would not hold it shut Doc confirmed it before sewing it shut both times) but I did use medical tape to “butterfly” shut his eyebrow that took a good chunk out so this would be same type of idea? how deep can one superglue? 2 years ago I had a 3.5″ laceration in bck of my calf going all the way to the muscle and the stitches barely held so I’m guessing the glue has its limits but how deep would you think it would hold?
I’ve only used on cuts that went through skin only… I’d take anything deeper to a doc to at least be checked out, but it has worked great on skin cuts, especially on fingers (which I occasionally slice when cooking…)
As a nurse, I can tell you that superglue is the goto. There isn’t always that special dermabond available…which is just a superglue hybrid….hope this helps
I had a cut on my cheekbone like that. Didn’t have an superglue handy, but yes it would have worked. Instead I used duct tape. The laceration went to the bone but you can barely see a scar. Due to the adhesives making a tight bond the skin can fuse together easily without having to grow new tissue to fill in (scar tissue). There is less scarring with duct tape and superglue than there is with stitches and staples. You don’t want to go deep, you only want to hold together the outer layers of skin. Never put superglue in an open wound, hold it shut then put the glue over it to seal.
Superglue has long been the secret for a number of trades, especially sheet metal workers and glaziers… they often get cuts and a quick dab of the superglue and they are back to work… works on deep paper cuts / cuts from knives and razors too… BTW, great info Kate
Thank you! I’ve needed to give my cabinet an overhaul and now I have a list:)
Love Love Love your little handy hints. I recently had a bout of food poisoning and remembered reading about your home remedy. I didn’t have any charcoal on hand but the apple cider vinegar really helped – so thanks from your little Aussie follower 🙂