A Natural Approach to First Aid
Summer is finally here! Here in Minnesota we had a long cold spring which followed a long cold winter, so now that the weather is turning the corner we’re all dying to get out in the sun. With all the fun summer activities - hiking, camping, swimming, biking - naturally come all the not-so-fun summer bummers - sunburn, insect bites, scraped knees…
Essential oils have been used throughout history to treat minor injuries like cuts, scrapes, bites, and burns. Records show that Ancient Egyptians used them to make tinctures, salves, and ointments to be used in medicinal treatments and spiritual ceremonies. Books written by early Chinese emperors document medicinal healing practices using these aromatics.
Now that essential oils have become popular again, more and more people are becoming familiar with their beneficial properties and are learning how to incorporate them into their daily lives. When properly applied, essential oils are safe, effective, and provide a natural option for first aid treatment. As summer rolls around, make sure your home first aid kit is stocked with these must-have essential oils.
The Best Essential Oils for First Aid
- Lavender: The most versatile and safe essential oil is also known as the “swiss army knife” in aromatherapy. Lavender can be used to cleanse minor cuts and scrapes, soothe burns, and lessen itching and inflammation from insect bites. It can also speed up healing by promoting cell production! And if that isn’t enough, its relaxing properties can ease stress and promote sleep.
- Tea Tree: A must-have for every home first aid kit, Tea Tree is great for healing minor wounds and abrasions. It is the best essential oil for treating skin conditions such as blemishes, contact dermatitis, dandruff, and fungal conditions.
- Peppermint: Often used to alleviate digestive issues such as nausea, motion sickness, and stomachaches, this is a great choice to keep on hand while traveling. Peppermint is very effective for relieving headaches, and its zingy scent is invigorating and revitalizing. Because of its cooling properties, Peppermint can be used as an after-sun spray on sunburns.
- Chamomile: Often used for easing skin irritations like hives, rashes, insect bites, and bee stings because of its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. This is an excellent essential oil to have on hand if you have young children. When added to a bath Chamomile can help unwind anxious children, and can safely be used topically for skin irritations and minor aches and pains.
Round Out Your Essential First Aid Kit
The four essential oils listed above are must-haves for any first aid kit, but there are several others that can be helpful to have on hand as well.
- Eucalyptus can be used in a diffuser as a decongestant and to cleanse the air. While Eucalyptus globulus should not be used around children, Eucalyptus radiata is generally considered to be safe. Eucalyptus citriodora is a great insect deterrent.
- Ravensara is another option for respiratory infections because it is an expectorant and can help loosen and clear mucus.
- Geranium is one of the best essential oils for reproductive issues, such as easing menstrual cramping and other menstrual symptoms. It is also the most effective essential oil for deterring ticks!
- Rosemary is helpful for pain, including muscle soreness, headaches, and digestive issues. It is invigorating, reducing fatigue and increasing focus and alertness.
How to Use Essential Oils in First Aid
There are so many ways to use essential oils for first aid treatments, especially since they’re all so versatile and can be used for a wide range of ailments. Remember to always dilute essential oils before applying to skin and to wash the wounded area before application.
Here are a few of our favorite suggestions:
Natural First Aid Spray: Add 20 drops Lavender and 10 drops Tea Tree per ounce of water in a spray bottle and shake to combine. Use to cleanse minor cuts, scrapes, burns, insect bites, and skin irritations.
Headache Roll-on: Add a 5 drops Peppermint, 5 drops Lavender, and 2 drops Rosemary to a roll-on bottle and fill with a carrier oil such as coconut or jojoba oil. Roll onto temples, pressure points, and areas of tension to relieve headaches.
Sunburn Relief: Add 20 drops Lavender, 10 drops Chamomile, and 5 drops Peppermint in a 2oz spray bottle and top off with half aloe vera and half witch hazel (or water if you don’t have these ingredients). Shake to combine and before each use. You can keep this spray in the refrigerator for an extra cooling effect.
Muscle Relief: Add 10 drops Immortelle, 5 drops Chamomile, 3 drops Peppermint, and 3 drops Rosemary to a carrier oil in a bottle with a treatment pump and shake to blend. Massage into sore muscles, achy joints, sprains, strains, and bruises.
Breathe Easier: Add a few drops each of Eucalyptus and Ravensara to your diffuser for general congestion relief and to cleanse the air. You could also use these essential oils in a blank inhaler for clearing congestion when you’re not at home.