Herbal First Aid and Emergency Relief

Herbal First Aid
By Sandra Lory, herbalist and educator. Mandala Botanicals

This is an updated version of Sandra’s incredibly thorough handout on herbal first aid for emergencies that is  included in the Numen Resource Guide.

Note: There is a lot of information here and it can be overwhelming to try to grasp it all at once. Sandra offers a bare bones herbal first aid kit at the bottom of the post – we find that to be a good place to start. Become familiar with one remedy from each section and then build on your knowledge from there. Thank you, Sandy!


Take care of yourself first in order to help others. Take breaks, immune, stamina building (rhodiola, , and own personal herbs. Wear gloves to protect from body fluids, ask for consent, keep clean water on hand (hydration and hygiene), and a broad spectrum, multipurpose essential oil blend (like Thieves) in an herbal hand sanitizer gel, light body oil or spritzer – triples as a deoderant, bug repellent and space disinfectant/immune protector. Sanitizer recipe: Mix (1 oz alcohol sanitizer), 1/2 oz aloe vera, 1/2 oz witch hazel, and 5 drops essential oils each: clove, eucalyptus, rosemary, lemon, red thyme, lavender, tea tree, lemongrass. Cleanliness is crucial. Protection herbs: yarrow, angelica, garlic, rue, st johns wort. Call 911 for help with serious injuries and have a phone list of local health care providers. Check patients for allergies and current meds, and test/check for reaction. Be cautious with infants, kids, elders, pregnant and nursing mothers. Be organized and work cooperatively.


Shift from sympathetic to parasympathetic nervous system response:

* Lavender: Sniff plant, or (1) drop essential oil on the nostril with consent. Foot soaks, face steams, and massage diluted with a carrier oil or calendula salve.

* Arnica flower homeopathic or dilute tincture on unbroken skin (pulse or tongue) specific for stroke, shock and trauma. NE USA analog: goldenrod flower.

* “Post-Trauma Stabilizer”. “Fear Less” or “Rescue Remedy” flower essence spray Local version flower essence: red clover (collective trauma, anxiety and staying centered in chaos), echinacea, self heal, arnica, & yarrow flower essences also helpful

* Rose: flowers, floral water, or oil (used FES Benediction Oil in Haiti w/ success) on heart or belly

* Grief: Rose, lemon balm, lavender, tulsi. Aromatherapy, herb or oil on pulse or heart center.

* Keep person warm and comforted. Elevate legs and cover with blanket if possible.


* Lavender essential oil (calming, aromatherapeutic, and can be applied directly to burns, inflammation, wounds and bites). Note: Spike lavender is the strongest anti-bacterial lavender.

* Lemon Balm, Sacred basil (Tulsi) or Basil tea, or crush and sniff any fresh aromatic herb.

* Rescue remedy or above mentioned flower essences – drop on pulse or tongue or in spritzer.

* Chamomile, lemon balm, skullcap, milky oat tops, etc. nervine herbs as tea, tincture, glycerite.


* Plantago sp. Leaf: spit poultice (dried or fresh) draws out venom, poison & irritants. Moisten leaves with water or the patient’s own saliva and apply topically to affected area, repeat 2-5x until clear. Also: prunella, clay, onion, lavender or tea tree oil, pure tobacco.

INFECTIONS (internal and external) AVOID REFINED SUGAR AND GREASY FOODS – food as medicine

* Elderberry antiviral and immune strengthening. I prefer oxymel – raw vinegar honey with berries.

* Echinacea for blood poisoning, first signs of cold and flu, immuno-stimulant & anti-viral/antihistamine. Take before plane rides and use in spaces where the air is stagnant for protection.

* Spilanthes acmella – (annual) anti-viral, immune boosting, anti-bacterial. Specific for oral care, squirt full strength (tincture) onto gums. Promotes salivation, helps dry mouth from chemotherapy.

* Berberine containing plant tincture as antibiotic: Berberis vulgaris herb or root best local option. Organic goldenseal, ethical goldthread (coptis) root, oregon graperoot. (Internal/external).

* Aromatic culinary herbs (thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary, ginger, etc) excellent antiseptics, immune boosters, must be good quality for strong volatile oils. Food, poultice, laying on of leaves.

* Tree resins like cedar and pine – available in the woods and in parks. Soften the gummy resin with hands and poultice to seal, clean and heal wounds. (external and internal w/ care).

* Propolis (resin or tincture) use sparingly & from organic bee keeper (internal/external).

* Broad spectrum disinfectant essential oils: Thieves (Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Thyme, Clove and Lemon) external use only. Disinfects air & surfaces, imperative in infectious environments. Eucalyptus specific for dirty food & water, cholera, staph. Tea tree. Spike lavender specific for infections, strep, clears heat, calming. Add one drop in day’s water supply to disinfect non-potable water and prevent epidemic disease.

* Lymphatic cleansers– important during any infection to flush body with one or more of the following: red clover, cleavers, chickweed, burdock root, dandelion leaf, calendula flower.

Dandelion leaf for swelling, digestion, bones hit, inflammation, edema.

* Sea salt – for gargles and soaking wounds, cold feet, etc. Myriad of uses, wound soaks, nasal/throat rinses, food preserving, cleanses space and body. Salt is a healing crystal.

* Probiotic bacteria capsules and foods to increase beneficial flora in body.

* Garlic – panacea antibiotic herb, with raw honey as instant syrup and to prevent stomach burn.

* Usnea lichen tincture, powder, fresh- staph. strep, pneumococcus, deep lung infection, fungus.

* Raw honey (optional, can be messy if not in a tightly sealed container) antibiotic and burn relief.


Somewhat complex, know the cause of fever to find the right remedy.

* Yarrow (achillea), elder flower, catnip, boneset, peppermint, monarda fistulosa tea or tincture.

* Cinchona homeopathic or sweet annie herb if malarial (intermittent chills and fever).

* Sudden onset: homeopathic belladonna (heat: red head w/pulsing), aconite (from cold air exposure/cold wind) Other anti-pyretic homeopathics – nat mur, arsenicum, eup, test first to make sure it’s the right one, don’t take haphazardly.


* Arnica or goldenrod flower homeopathic, oil or liniment externally on unbroken skin for new or longlasting and old bruises, muscle aches and injuries – use frequently 2-5x day as needed. Arnica also for internal bleeding, stroke, and trauma. Use with Solomon seal root.

* Yarrow (Achillea) internally for internal or external bleeding. Chew fresh or dried yarrow leaf, then poultice wound to stop bleeding. Apply tincture topically around wound to move blood stagnation, restore chi flow, and protect auric field

* Bone injury – After medical treatment, aid with Traumeel, or comfrey, nettles and equisetum. Comfrey lf/rt: knits bones, apply around broken skin not on deep wounds, regenerates cells fast.

* Solomon Seal root raw or tincture – torn connective tissue, ligaments and tendons, torn ACL

* Nerve damage: Lemon balm/melissa (cooling), milky oats/avena (restorative), clove (very warming), Saint John’s Wort (warming)

* Saint John’s Wort (Hypericum) infused oil, tincture, liniment, or homeopathic – for nerve and blood vessel damage and puncture wounds. Also for bites, tetanus bites, burns, red inflammation.

* Massage or topical application of infused oil of above plants, can add wintergreen or camphor, ginger & culinaries to move chi, use with cupping if properly trained to use cups.

* Traumeel ‘homeopathic ibuprofen’ for injuries, inflammation, pain relief available in cream and tablets (preparation that contains above herbs, plus several more).


* Yarrow poultice (chew leaves and apply to open cut) is hemostatic and disinfects. Yarrow indicated for black and blue eye, cut wounds and abrasions, oozing red bleeding.

* Cayenne powder is styptic (stops bleeding), under tongue at time of heart attack can save a life.

* Multipurpose skin salve: anti fungal and anti-bacterial ointment suggestions: calendula, yarrow, plantain, red clover, st johnswort, black walnut, comfrey, usnea, pine, balsam poplar bud.

* Calendula: soothes burns, heals skin, minimizes scarring, for areas where the sun don’t shine.


* Chamomile (tea or tincture) is antispasmodic, settles tummy, relieves pain, comforting & familiar herb. Also for violence and violent thoughts toward self or others, anger rising to head.

* Traumeel Homeopathic tablets or cream

* Crampbark or Valerian Root (dried or tinctured) – chew dry plant, drink tea or ingest tincture frequently, every hour if needed.

* Arnica homeopathic or dilute tincture, never apply to broken skin.

* Wild lettuce (fresh), meadowsweet, poppy, willow bark, Jamaican dogwood or other anodyne

* Clove, St Johnswort or lemon balm infused oil or tincture topically – nerve pain

* Staphysagria/Stavesacre flower essence or Homeopathic 30 C: Rape, Scalpel wounds/never well since surgery, overstretched orifices and tubes, shame.


* 1pt Lobelia inflata/8 pts Milky Oats tincture. Hold acupressure points.


* Seasonal: spring nettles, ragweed, usnea, plantain, reishi, goldenrod, rudbeckia, simplify diet

* Reaction: every 15 min, tincture of echinacea, calendula, cleavers, reishi, plantain. Drink water!

* Skin bite: spit poultice with plantago or other poison drawing plant, or clay paste

* Environmental Protection Essence (FES)

* if massive swelling, homeopathic apis

* Benadryl

* Epipen (Px) – anaphylaxis I have heard gentian root herbally, but not experienced this use.

* call 911 or go to nearest medical facility if serious


* Ginger chews or lozenges for nausea/motion sickness to rebalance liver

* Fennel seeds for bloating and gas

* Probiotic capsules repopulate gut flora

* Upset stomach tea, tincture or glycerite: lemon balm, chamomile, skullcap, fennel seed, ginger, mint, lemon/orange peel, and catnip.

* Burdock, yellow dock, dandelion root and milk thistle seed (tincture or dried): digestive bitters for sluggish digestion/constipation, proper elimination, detoxification and hepatitis protection.

* Blackberry root/White Oak Bark or Meadowsweet leaf tincture for diarrhea

* Sweet Annie, Wormwood or Epazote for intestinal parasites and worms, malaria prevention

* Marshmallow root powder– mix with beverage or prepare as tea to soothe the GI tract andstomach lining if inflamed or raw. Calendula also soothing as a tea.

* Miso paste (to keep digestive flora healthy during travel. A cup of hot water needs only a teaspoon dissolved, is very grounding and alkalizing), and can go un-refrigerated for days

* GREENS. Spirulina, dried comfrey, dried nettles, or a green drink powder – rejuvenates body systems – tissues, respiration, elimination, digestion, raises energy level by enriching the blood

* Celery stalks (fresh) for sugar overdose

* Raw local vinegar – skin cleanser, digestive purifier, immune booster.


* Dandelion leaf salad, clay (poultice or drink), activated charcoal capsules or powder.

* Chemicals/fumes/drugs: Seaweed, cilantro, milk thistle seed tincture or caps detox liver from toxins/poison including toxic mushrooms. Also FES Yarrow Environmental Protection Solution.

* Fish and spoiled fats: activated charcoal tablets, homeopathic ipecac, healing clay.

* Radioactivity: miso, fresh lacto-fermented kraut (decongestant, liver cleanser), apple pectin, iodine (black walnut, seaweed, algae excellent sources – request radioactivity test for purity.


* If from cold and dampness: balsam poplar salve or oil rub, hot tea, horseradish/fire cider, warm foot soak with grated ginger.

* If overheated: rose water, mint tea or bath, lavender hydrosol, cucumber water or slices, melon, aloe vera gel on skin, violet leaves on forehead, calendula flowers for sunburns

FOR ENERGY BOOST & STAMINA (without caffeine or sugar, plus build stability and strength)

*Daily use of adaptogen herbs we can grow in the NE USA like rhodiola, ashwagandha, American ginseng, codonopsis, goji, reishi, tulsi, schizandra. Reduce stress impact on body via hormones


You can administer herbs to DOGS for most of the same indications as humans. CATS have different body systems, however. DO NOT use essential oils on or around cats, feline kidneys are sensitive. DO use flower essences & homeopathics like Arnica for cats.


Biodegradable soap like Dr. Bronner’s, matches, needle & thread/mending kit, safety pins, Emergen-c, tweezers, band-aids, gauze and tape, chopsticks, spoon, fork, bowl, condoms, medicine/prayer bundle, protective stone or amulet, cupping glasses, dried fruit and nut snack bars for diabetics, safety pins, scissors, Epipen (for anaphylaxis- requires Px); incense, space clearing spray; duct tape, candle, toilet paper, tampon, pad, rubber bands, whistle, thermometer, ace bandage, bug spray – eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary, geranium, lemongrass, thyme, tea tree

MINI-1st AID KIT – THE BAREBONES – (a remedy from each section)

• Lavender essential oil

• Arnica or Goldenrod- diluted tincture or Homeopathic

• Rescue remedy or other flower essence

• Anti bacterial essential oil or spray

• Anti-bacterial and antifungal wound salve/ointment

• Yarrow dried herb

• Plantain dried herb & activated charcoal caps

• Berberine containing tincture, plus Echinacea or Spilanthes

• Lymph flush tincture

• Chamomile tea bags and ginger chews

• Band aids, gauze & tape, sea salt, gloves, Benadryl, lighter, pocket knife (not if traveling by air)

Sandra Lory

Sandra Lory is a folk herbalist and educator teaching and practicing in central Vermont.


Many thanks to: Amy Goodman Kiefer, Rosemary Gladstar, Atmo Abram, RadHerb, Guido Mase, Adam Sellar, 7Song, Mary Murphy and Megan’s Street Medic Training, Heather Irvine, Terry Anya Hayes, Dana Woodruff, Bevin Clare, Jeff and Melanie Carpenter, Julia Graves, Kate Gilday.




  • Reply March 29, 2014


    WOW!! This is excellent information! I LOVE this!

  • Reply April 1, 2014


    I love this list. It’s so nice to feel prepared for anything. My kids often ask for salve and herbs when hurt or sick.

  • Reply April 1, 2014

    Renee Kohley

    What a great resource! Pinning! Thank you!

  • Reply April 1, 2014


    What an incredible resource!! Pinning this to keep handy. We started exploring a more natural approach to everything last year, so this is incredibly helpful. Thank you for so much valuable info all in one place.

  • Reply April 1, 2014

    Carolyn E.

    What a fabulous, comprehensive resource! Thanks so much for compiling this information. Printed it and tucked it into my purse. :)

  • Reply April 1, 2014

    linda spiker

    Wow such great information! Nature never ceases to amaze!

  • Wow, this is a pretty fantastic list. I’ll definitely be printing this out for my materia medica!

  • Reply April 1, 2014

    Rachel @ day2dayjoys

    What a great natural first aid kit! Going to pin this! :)

  • Reply May 6, 2014

    Ann Armbrecht

    So glad this is useful!

  • Reply May 7, 2014


    I have stiff painful and one numb finger, what can I do for that? I also have sinus issues from allergies. Feels like they won’t drain freely and I have preasure in my ears . Any natural thing for that issue??

    • Reply May 7, 2014

      Ann Armbrecht

      I’m afraid I can’t diagnose on-line! There are resources out there that might. I know there used to be a FB page where people asked questions and others responded (just remember that free information is worth taking with a grain of salt!). You can also look at the American Herbalist Guild list for an herbalist practicing in your area. Rosalee de la Foret http://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/rosalee-de-la-foret.html has a fantastic list of resources on her site where you might be able to dig around and find some things that help. Good luck!

Leave a Reply