When you’re away on holiday sometimes you can experience cuts, bruises, upset tummies, sleeplessness and a variety of other minor ailments. It’s not always easy to go to a doctor or find medical support whilst away, so taking a small kit of essential herbal supplies that includes things such as plasters, bandages and gauze, and a selection of herbs, herbal oils and creams away with you, can be of great benefit for taking care of minor cuts, bruises and attacks of nausea and headaches. Here’s a few to consider packing for your travels: -
Aloe Vera Gel – Gels or lotions made from aloe vera are excellent for using to soothe minor burns, scalds and also sunburn. All you need to do is apply the gel to the affected area and let it do its work.
Calendula Cream – Calendula is both antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, it’s a lovely soothing cream that can be used for minor cuts, grazes, insect bites and also nappy rash. Ensure cuts and grazes are thoroughly cleaned and free of any dirt or grit before you apply calendula cream.
Chickweed Cream – This remedy is often used to help sooth eczema, but it is also a useful cream to have in your remedy box, it can help sooth minor burns or scalds. Chickweed also has the ability to help draw out impurities from the skin in things like boils and abscesses, it also rather useful for helping to remove splinters from the skin and soothing insect bites and stings.
Comfrey Ointment – Is great for applying to sprains, swelling and bruising. Although comfrey does encourage cell growth and can help heal up cuts quite quickly, it is not antiseptic and its rapid healing properties can lead to abscesses if is used on a wound that has not been thoroughly cleaned, so ensure that you have thoroughly cleaned the wound and preferably used an antiseptic cream before applying comfrey ointment.
Tinctures of Arnica and Witch Hazel – Both of these tinctures are useful added to water and made in to a compress to help bring relief to tired and aching legs and can also speed up the healing factor of bruising. Witch hazel tincture can also be added to soothing lotions for soothing minor burns and sunburn and because of its astringent nature it can help minor cuts and grazes to stop bleeding. Add a little witch hazel tincture to water and use a cotton wool ball soaked in the solution to help clean the cut or graze and staunch the blood flow. It’s also useful for taking the sting out of insect bites.
Herbal teas can also double as skin washes and rinses, good tea herbs include fennel for digestive upsets, lemon balm for headaches, especially irritating tension headaches and elderflower and yarrow are good to have if there is a chance that you could pick up a cold whilst away, both are excellent anti-catarrhal herbs and can help to reduce fevers.
Chamomile Tea - An infusion of Chamomile flowers can be taken as herbal tea for nervous upsets, it’s soothing and gentle and useful to sip if you’re having problems sleeping. Chamomile tea can be turned in to a steam inhalant to help sufferers of hay fever get some relief, but make sure that you’re not allergic to members of the asteraceae family first! Left to go cold and some cotton wool pads placed in it, it can be placed on the eyes to help bring relief to tired eyes. The tea can also be used as a hair rinse to lighten blonde hair, and added to a facial steam to help cleanse the skin of impurities.
Ginger Powder - Ginger powder can be taken to help relieve the symptoms of dyspepsia - heartburn, bloating and flatulence - and morning sickness, indigestion and period cramps, it can be taken as a tea or in capsule form. It may also help to bring relief to arthritic and rheumatic pains, soothe migraine headaches and soothe tired and aching muscles.
Peppermint Tea – Is good for soothing nausea, upset stomachs and IBS, like ginger it can also be taken for dyspepsia. If symptoms last more than three days seek professional advice. Peppermint tea that has been allowed to cool can be used as a hair rinse for greasy hair, and as a facial tonic, or added to a foot bath to help sooth tired aching feet. Cold peppermint tea can be used as a cold compress to help sooth tension headaches. Try combining ginger and peppermint and drinking as a tea to get the best from both herbs.
There are a number of essential oils that can be useful to add to your holiday essentials kit, rosemary oil is great when diluted in a carrier oil for easing aches and pains caused by arthritis and rheumatism. Thyme oil is a great antiseptic and it’s also antispasmodic to, so it’s useful to massage into cramping and aching muscles, after it’s been diluted in a suitable carrier oil of course!
If you’re going abroad, chances are that mosquitoes will be a problem, the oil most often used to repel mosquitoes is citronella, but oils that contain citronellol and geraniol such as basil, cedarwood, eucalyptus, geranium, lavender, lemongrass, rosemary and tea tree all have insect repelling properties. Use any of the oils mentioned above or below at a ratio of 2-3 drops of essential oil to 1 tsp of carrier oil and rub on to the skin to deter flying pests.
Citronella Essential Oil – Is an excellent way to deter fleas and flying insects such as mosquitoes, in general it only works in close proximity and if used in a bug deterrent spray it needs to be applied often. Add to citronella oil to lotions, creams and soaps, and to shampoos for the hair. Add to washing water for floors and surfaces where antiseptic, insect repelling and antibacterial properties are required.
Lavender Essential Oil – Diluted in a suitable carrier oil, lavender oil can be used to soothe bites and stings, its antiseptic and antibacterial properties may help prevent a bite or sting from becoming infected and it can help the skin to heal. When diluted in a suitable carrier oil it can be used on minor burns, cuts and grazes and can speed up the healing process. A few drops on your pillow may help you get to sleep, and diluted it may help ease headaches and migraines. Add to lotions, creams, soaps, face masks, foot powders and bath salts for the skin, and shampoos for the hair.
Tea Tree Essential Oil – Like lavender, tea tree oil is antiseptic, antibacterial and it’s also anti-fungal, diluted in a suitable carrier oil it can be used topically to ease cold sores and if applied when the first symptoms appear may stop the sore developing all together, it’s also useful for applying to warts, and other fungal infections such as athlete’s foot. Add to shampoos for dandruff sufferers, lotions, creams, balms, salves, washes and soaps where an antiseptic and antimicrobial action is required.
Debs Cook is the IT Media Manager for the DHM, she is a self confessed herbaholic who loves to write about the way herbs were once used and about the herbalists that used them. You can find out more about Debs over on her Herbal haven blog.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to source the most up to date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that remedies in our articles are effective, when in doubt, consult your GP or a qualified Medicinal Herbalist. Remember also that herbal remedies can be dangerous under certain circumstances therefore you should always seek medical advice before self-treating with a homemade remedy, especially if you are pregnant, breast feeding or suffer from any known illness which could be adversely affected by self-treatment.