by Steven Horne, RH(AHG)
None of us want trouble in our lives, but accidents, illnesses and injuries happen to everyone now and then. Having the knowledge and skills to know how to handle emergencies and illness effectively brings confidence and peace of mind. So does having some basic remedies on hand to use in emergencies.
There are four remedies that I think everyone ought to have on hand because they are not only incredibly versatile, they are potentially life-saving. These remedies are capsicum, lobelia, activated charcoal and Distress Remedy. Here’s why I believe each of these remedies should be on hand in every home in America (along with the knowledge of how to use them).
Capsicum and lobelia were Samuel Thomson’s “cure-all” remedies, and became main-stays of pioneer medicine in Utah. Following this tradition, the famous herbalist Dr. John Christopher put a little bit of each in nearly all his formulas. Here’s why I consider them so valuable.
Capsicum – Red Hot Help
Also known as cayenne pepper or red pepper, capsicum is a must-have remedy for heart attacks, shock, bleeding and frostbite. It is also useful for colds, flu and fevers. Don’t depend on the cheap red pepper you get at the grocery store (although it’s better than nothing in a pinch) because it’s usually fairly weak compared to the high grade herb used in herbal medicine.
Capsicum placed under the tongue can save the life of a person having a heart attack. It can also be placed under the tongue to help a person going into shock. The powder can be sprinkled directly into a bleeding wound to help stop the bleeding (along with pressure—the standard first aid treatment). Taken internally, it can help to stop internal bleeding. In any of these situations, capsicum could easily save the life of someone you care about.
Capsicum is also useful in many not so life-threatening situations. A few grains of capsicum can be sprinkled into socks or gloves to prevent frostbite (a useful tip if you live in a cold climate). You can gargle with it to ease sore throat pain and take it internally for colds, flu and fevers. The extract can be applied topically to relieve pain, too.
Lobelia – The Intelligent Herb
Lobelia has been called the “intelligent herb” because it seems to help so many different health problems. A strong relaxant and antispasmodic, lobelia is a must-have remedy for asthma attacks, anxiety attacks, muscle cramps, whooping cough and any kind of pain due to tension. It can also be applied topically to insect bites and stings. It can be a life saver in cases of food poisoning or other types of poisoning, too.
When my wife first came to America, she did not know that you had to have a doctor’s prescription to get a refill on asthma inhalors. She ran out on a weekend and had an attack. I took her to a walk-in clinic and dosed her with lobelia enroute and while we were waiting to see the doctor. She was out of danger by the time the doctor saw her. I was so thankful that lobelia was part of my home remedy kit.
I like to use lobelia in extract form because I can more carefully regulate the dose. I have helped a couple of people out of an anxiety attack the same way I helped my wife with her asthma attack. I give small, frequently repeated doses of lobelia while encouraging the person to try to relax and breathe deeply. I just squirt some extract directly into the mouth or use a dropper and administer the remedy one dropperful at a time. I space the doses about 2-3 minutes apart and continue until relief is obtained. This usually takes 5-15 mintues.
Lobelia is also good for spastic cough and whooping cough. I use it along with AL-J. I’ve applied it topically to bites and stings and watched it rapidly take down the swelling. Because large doses induce vomiting, I’ve used it for food poisoning.
Once, one of my kids ate a mushroom or toadstool in the yard. Because my wife wasn’t sure if it was poisonous, she called the poison control center who advised she induce vomiting with ipecac. She went to the store to get it, not knowing that the lobelia we always have on hand would have done the same thing. (Always call a poison control center for advice before administering something to induce vomiting in cases of poisoning.)
Activated Charcoal – Nature’s Poison Control
I don’t use activated charcoal a lot, but I always keep it in my first aid kit because when you do need it, it could save someone’s life. Activated charcoal absorbs poisons. It is one of the most dependable remedies for poisoning that we can use because it absorbs so many different kinds of toxins. You can give it for both food and chemical poisoning (however, call the poison control center first).
Charcoal is also the most powerful remedy I know of for severe diarrhea. It rapidly firms up the stool and prevents fluid loss. Applied topically, charcoal can be used as a poultice for poisonous spider bites (including brown recluse). It absorbs the venom. Poultices should be changed every 2 hours with spider bites.
Distress Remedy – The Sanity Saver
While this remedy isn’t exactly a life saver, it can be a sanity-saver. Distress Remedy is an improvement on the famous Bach Flower Rescue Remedy for treating shock and trauma. Anytime we are faced with traumatic events in our lives, accidents, illness, deaths in the family, bad news, arguments or anything that causes emotional trauma and stress, Distress Remedy can help. Put about 10 drops under the tongue to help you feel calm, centered and relaxed again.
Distress Remedy can also be applied topically to promote healing of minor injuries such as bumps and bruises. It will rapidly take down swelling and help to ease pain.
These four remedies are a must for all kinds of accidents and emergencies. They are four of the basic remedies I suggest should be in a home preparedness first aid kit for emergencies. We’ll cover more of the remedies that should be in this kit next week.