Tag Archives: natural medicine

The Post Apocalyptic First Aid Kit: put together your own or BUY MINE

first aid kit 1Last summer was a calamitous one. You know how you can go a long time without getting any cuts or sprains and then suddenly every time you turn around the kitchen knife is lodged in your thumb, table corners conspire to trip you so you sprain your wrist in a fall, and steps suddenly disappear under your feet sending you sprawling on the cement walkway below scraping off a big hank of skin so thick it makes you sick to your stomach to cut it off?

We had one of those summers. That was the summer I finally understood the value of having a first aid kit in the house. We had various components of one. We own at least six pairs of scissors, all suitable for cutting bandaging to size, but when I needed a pair to cut off some skin from my mom’s injury (yes, for real) and cut bandages, I spent 5 precious minutes searching for a single pair while she bled. We had bandage tape but it was not in the same spot as the bandaging. That was the day I decided I needed to put together a first aid kit for our family.

first aid kit 6I could have bought one, of course, but there is no first aid kit out there that blends natural medicine with some modern manufactured supplies. I don’t use Neosporin for cuts and abrasions, I use a handmade comfrey wound salve, or did until I made my own formula with antibacterial herbs in a triple infusion that is much better and stronger than the one I used to buy*. I don’t use Calamine lotion or anti-itch ointment from the store for poison oak, I use natural powdered clay. My son is the one who gets the poison oak and this has worked very well for him.

first aid kit 3I was also inspired by my dystopian novel “Winter; Cricket and Grey” to make a first aid kit that included some natural bandaging in addition to the sterile manufactured gauze pads and band aids. In the spirit of being resourceful during tough times when manufactured goods may be hard to come by I have put cloth bandage rolls in the kit made from natural cotton muslin that’s been pre-washed to improve absorption.

first aid kit 2I put a lot of thought into what should be included in my first aid kits. I’m going to list each item I included  below:first aid kit 4What all first aid kits should include:

Scissors – they don’t have to be fancy, they just need to be able to cut through bandages and bandage tape. Hopefully you won’t ever need yours to cut hanging skin off a wound.

Tweezers – make certain they are sharp edged otherwise they are useless. The ones in this kit are small but have a really nice sharp edge for pulling out splinters. Dull ones make it more painful and frustrating and you will end up cussing so loud you’ll surprise yourself.

Triple Strength Wound Salve – this is in place of using antibacterial ointments. It’s natural, it’s effective, and it’s really good for your skin. The bonus is that it’s made from ingredients that would most likely still be available during an apocalyptic situation. It can be made at home if you take the time to learn how.

Sprain Bandage – I can’t stand Ace bandages. We have one or two lying around and have certainly had cause to use them but they look creepy with that flesh-like color and they’re always too long and after a few uses get stretched out in an unpleasant manner. I have made sprain bandages from cotton stretch satin. Each kit has two lengths of it so you can use either just one or use both if you need more of it. They are pretty and decorated with a felt heart.

Muslin Bandaging – 100 percent cotton washable bandaging. Two different widths for different needs. It is for making pads and for fixing them in place. It is also perfect for using with the poultice.

Band Aids – I’ve included 20 in each kit I’m selling but it’s not a bad idea to add more to your kit of different sizes. I’ll be honest, we have a lot of different band aid sizes and types at our house but the ones I find most useful are the ones I’ve put in the kits (1″ x 3″) and it’s frustrating having so many less useful sizes and shapes lying around when this is what I most often need. I’ve chosen latex-free because a lot of people have allergies to latex.

20 Sterile Gauze Pads – These were really useful with my mom’s arm injury and I will make sure I always have some on hand as long as they’re available. They’re very porous, though, and the muslin bandaging is better for particularly bloody situations. In either case, where bandages sticking to wounds is a worry, rub some salve on the wound or on the bandaging directly to keep it from sticking.

2 Rolls Bandage Cloth Bandage Tape – You can use muslin to tie wound pads in place but it’s good to have tape on hand as well.

1 Use Comfrey Poultice – If you use this poultice for a wound you can get 2 uses from it but for a sprain you’ll want to use the whole thing. I’ve seen a comfrey poultice in action (my mom used it on my cousin’s sprained ankle and it worked wonderfully well) and is truly be a great value to every first aid kit. It reduces inflammation which is the main thing you want to do with a sprain. The added benefit of using a poultice instead of an anti-inflammatory pill is that it has healing properties on skin. Comfrey speeds up cell regrowth and is known to be healing for bones as well.

Bentonite Clay – any pink or green clay powder will do just as well. I include this because it worked so well soothing my son’s poison oak that he’s a real believer and we always have some around. It helps dry up weepy rashes and reduces the itching. Plus – it’s full of minerals that are good for skin.

Alcohol for Sterilizing – I’ve included an empty bottle with atomizer top in my kits for sale. I can’t sell alcohol without a lot of trouble so you must fill it yourself. You can fill it with rubbing alcohol OR moonshine OR Everclear. The higher the proof the better. Use it to sterilize the scissors or tweezers before use. It can also be used to sterilize wounds, but only do this if you don’t have access to clean running water which is the best way to clean wounds.

There are a few other things that would be fantastic additions to your first aid kits but which I couldn’t include in the ones I’m selling:

Fever/Pain Reducer – We don’t treat fevers in our house until they reach 103 degrees OR unless they are causing terrible discomfort. So we don’t use fever reducers often but there have been times I’ve been really grateful to have it on hand. Pain reducers are also truly beneficial in my opinion and I have never been satisfied with natural pain relievers (except for beer – true story) so this is a case where I believe in modern medicine providing superior care to natural and why in my household we blend modern medicine with natural remedies.

Epi Pen – No one in my house has any life threatening injuries but many people do have them and while they usually have an epi-pen close at hand, having one in your first aid kit is wise.

Thermometer – Not a necessary item but very useful in determining if a fever should be treated or allowed to run its course.

As always, I have to hope you never have need of any of these things, but I also hope you’re prepared in case you and your loved ones are hit with a string of injuries as we were.  Either put your own kit together or buy mine:

Post Apocalyptic First Aid Kit from Stitch and Boots

first aid kit 7*You can buy my triple strength wound salve separately from the first aid kit in my Etsy shop.

Poison Oak Remedy: Green Clay

I have a very low sensitivity to poison oak which means that I can stand in the middle of a big patch of it and not get a rash.  I know this because I have stood, accidentally, in the middle of a big patch of it and didn’t get a rash. I have had a lot of exposure to it in my life and when my mom and brother would come down with horrible allergic reactions, I (who had been in the same places as them) would be spared.  This luck means that I have gone my whole life not having to worry about remedies for poison oak or seek relief for the itching it causes.

That has changed over time as my son got his first poison oak rash when he was three and though that time wasn’t too bad, every time he gets it he has a much worse allergic reaction than the last time.  I did some research the first time he got it and read as much as I could about it and discovered that there are some myths about poison oak that have been busted by science but which are difficult to bust in the minds of many who suffer from it.

The biggest myth is that once you get poison oak your rash is contagious and you can give it to others.  This is NOT true.  What gives people the rash is an oil produced in poison oak, called urushiol, which bonds with the proteins in your skin within the first 10 to 15 minutes of contact and once it has bonded the urushiol is absorbed into your skin and cannot be transferred to anyone else.

I have assembled a number of sources of information about poison oak which explain well that you can’t spread your own poison oak rash by scratching, the oozing that sometimes occurs can’t spread your rash either.  If you suffer from a sensitivity to poison oak and you don’t already know these things, please read up!  It will help you manage your rash exposure to know how you can get reintroduced to the oils through clothes and pet fur and will ease your mind to understand that you aren’t contagious once you’ve gotten the rash.

Once you have it, there’s nothing you can do to get rid of it.  For those who have severe reactions (my mother has been hospitalized from allergic reactions to poison oak) you may need to go to the hospital and get a steroid shot, but this is only done in very severe cases.  For everyone else the only thing you can do is control the itching and promote the healing of your rash by drying the sores and blisters out.

We have used a medicated steroid creme to help control the itching of my son’s poison oak rashes in the past and while it did help, it was not as efficacious as we could have hoped.  We have also resorted to using Itch-x from the pharmacy which does work well to control the itching for short periods of time but fails to help heal the rash itself which needs to be dried out, not kept moist with ointment.  During his most recent rash, which was worse than any of the previous ones he’s gotten, he was itching so much that he was raising big welts on his arms and body and causing his rash to bleed.  We listened to some suggestions from other people (there are soaps meant to help with poison oak) and then my mom asked why we didn’t use Calamine lotion.

I really didn’t know why I hadn’t tried it before.  I remembered that I had some green clay I’d gotten from an herbal shop and decided we’d try that.  Isn’t Calamine lotion mostly clay-like?  Maybe not, but I went home and mixed up some of my green clay and my kid was completely game (desperate) to try it so I covered all his rashes with the clay.  He was really happy with the results.  He told me it helped with the itching better than the ointments and felt more comforting.  We continued to use it for a week, applying it liberally every single night before bed.  Here’s what I used:


1/3 cup green clay (Montmorillonite)

2 tbsp water


Measure out the clay into a ramekin and add the water.  Stir it until all the powder is incorporated and you have gotten most of the lumps out.  It should be thick.

The thickness makes it easier to get full coverage over the rash.  Too thin and it won’t work as well.

It should be thick enough that it doesn’t drip or slip when you scoop some up with your finger.

Apply it liberally to every area of your skin affected by the rash.  You may need to undress to do this.  Let it dry before covering it with clothes.

When you’re done applying the first round, you can put the rest of the clay in a small jar with a tightly sealing lid.  It will stay hydrated and ready for your next application if you keep the lid on when not in use.  How much you need will vary greatly depending on the extensiveness of your rash.  We used the clay treatment for a little over a week and I mixed up about this amount three times.  Use the above ingredients as a ratio and multiply to make a bigger batch ahead of time if you think you’ll need it.

An acquaintance of mine told me she uses clay for her son too, but she gets it directly from her property, so if you have clay in your yard do try to use that first!  You won’t even have to mix it up and it will be free!  She says it’s the only remedy that’s given relief to her son who is very sensitive to poison oak just like mine.

I bought my clay from an herb shop online, you may be able to find it at local shops that carry natural herbs and beauty supplies.

Poison oak information:

Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Information Center

Cleveland Clinic: The Poison Plants

Andrew Weil on Poison Oak

Poison Oak FAQ

CDC on Poison Oak and other poisonous plants