First Aid from my Apothecary: Bugs, Bumps, Cuts, Poison, Sun

This post will make more sense if you’ve read the introduction.

Two days ago, my husband said, “I gashed my leg. I need your apocalyptic stuff.” Holistic Husband had trouble with apothecary. Here we go, in alphabetical order of Uh-Ohs:

Bites and Stings
R
epellent
The majority of popular brands contains deet, highly toxic especially for kids. I took forever deciding on a natural alternative because contrary to popular perception, essential oils are not categorically beneficial. Too much of it, along with the added fragrance so common in products claiming to be “healthy,” can disrupt children’s endocrine and reproductive systems. Essential oils are strong and I am also sensitive to them. So after looking for something that wasn’t overpowering but effective, I settled on this spray by Quantum. You have to repeat application.

P1040431Echinacea and Goldenseal – Tennyson got a squirt three times a day the first two days of bite inflammation to boost immune response. Topically, the herbs help draw toxins out.  After mUch experimentation the last few years, the most natural and soothing external treatment I came up with was a few drops of these herbs followed by a thick baking soda paste on the itch. The cooling paste has helped my son fall back asleep when he’d wake up itchy. I add just a drop or two of water for a moldable paste and don’t mind the dried crumbs on floor, carpet, or bedding, as the soda is a natural cleaner and of course vacuumable. The alkaline soda neutralizes the acid of the bug poison. Goldenseal is a very strong cooling herb so you can use the Echinacea alone, especially in the winter. Gaia is the best company I know for Echinacea – knows it like the back of its hand and fastidiously harnesses quality herbs.  The bottles for kids are alcohol-free.  Some health food stores carry this brand.  You can go to the Gaia site but online resellers like this one often sells for less.

Homeopathics
Once I saw how lumpy and red the bites had grown, I started Tennyson on Ledum Palustre in liquid form sublingually. The rich blood vessels under the tongue absorb the drops efficiently. Ledum accelerates healing from bites. It is what I would use if he were bitten by a child or an animal. I would add Hypericum Perforatum for nerve endings, where there is risk of Tetanus. After the first day, I found Urtica Urens to be more effective for the itch at hand. This remedy facilitates healing of hives, itch from poison, and burns. Tennyson took Urtica under the tongue about five times a day, down to two times the third day.  We have Apis Mel on hand for bee and wasp stings. Last summer, Daddy and Son were needled by a wasp – Daddy in several places, Son a hairsbreadth from the eyeball. It happened an hour from home and I happened to have Apis in the car. I KnOW!  Don’t ASK!  Homeopathics are available from holistic practitioners, from online and at health food markets. The lower potencies treat acute conditions. You can’t overdose on most of them and there are no side effects with the right remedies. But you use homeopathics only as long as the symptoms call for them. It’s best to consult a homeopathic doctor who can target the remedy to take by mouth but after reading up on them, you can keep some on standby for acute conditions. Homeopathics work on animals just as they do on people.

Bumps, Bruises and Trauma
Arnica Montana – Our dear loyal friend. It speeds healing and has come through even in the most traumatic of falls. Awesome for kids and athletes or those who work out – and of course the clumsy like Yours Truly. Arnica facilitates recovery from surgery and the remedy, along with Aconite which treats shock, are excellent in cases involving hard impact, like auto accidents.

Traumeel Ointment – I should’ve started out with straight Arnica ointment or cream but I was introduced to this combination preparation of homeopathics as a new mom and it is so dang effective I turned a blind eye to the inactive ingredients. At least the ingredients are pronounceable. I justify the breaking of my own law by our holistic doctor’s sentiments: hey, we don’t rub this on everyday. It was indispensable when my son started crawling and walking, greeting hard places head-on. My mother banged her forehead on a sharp protrusion so hard she actually expected to feel a hole. She was amazed at how well she healed from Traumeel. You can get it from most pharmacies and online stores. Traumeel contains Arnica, which you don’t apply on open wounds.

Dehydration
Summer has hit us, no holds barred. The air conditioning graciously lowered the oven heat in the car to 97 degrees this week. Obviously we need to drink more, days like these. Taking pink Himalayan salt in food and capsule at our doctor’s word has revived my husband from the weakness and the headache he gets from sweating out minerals. I pour the salt into an empty gelatin capsule that he washes down with water so he doesn’t have to taste it. When I can manage the extra step, I roast the salt on low at 175 degrees for about 15 minutes in the oven and cool before encapsulating. Macrobiotics practice recommends cooking salt 10 minutes for digestibility. I started giving my son a small capsule of Celtic sea salt, which I also do a bit extra of in the oppressive heat. A sudden very painful tightness on the sole of my foot just below the toes went away tonight after 3/4 capsule of lightly roasted sea salt. I remembered my holistic doctor saying seven years ago that the occasional pain was probably mineral deficiency. In this heat, she was right. A little bit of seaweed (presoaked 20 minutes) or kelp cooked into grains or broth will cool and help remineralize the overheated body. Sea salt supplementation and a banana for the potassium punch are very helpful for long flights, as flying is dehydrating. Natural health care professionals might carry sea salt tablets. Quality salt is not white, the color you get after nutritive minerals have been refined. Celtic grey is among the finest salts.

Detoxification
Bentonite Clay – The medicinal use of clay goes back milennia. Sodium bentonite you usually mix with water and ingest as a laxative aid.  A natural antibacterial, calcium bentonite absorbs toxins when applied externally. I could’ve made a wet pack for my son’s bites a few days ago. To suck out the wasp poison that made Peter’s head throb last year, we left some shampoo that contained bentonite on the sting site on top of his head.  Hubby was awed at how well it eased the pain. Five to ten minutes of a dollop of bentonite on a zit two, three times a day will dry it up. A bentonite or rhassoul clay face mask of just a few minutes leaves my skin clearer, whiter, and softer.

Food Poisoning
Peter got very sick from a group barbeque last year. The aurora threatened a crippling migraine and he expected to call in sick the next day. I gave him about half a tablespoon of brown rice vinegar in a cup of water and, to his disbelief, his head and stomach soon felt better. The vinegar turned him around and by the time he got the second dose some hours later, he felt fine. Paul Pitchford’s deep and wide explanations of the medicinal properties of food in Healing with Whole Foods details the use of quality vinegar in the case of food poisoning. He explains that (white) distilled vinegar is not a food (though a great cleaner), and leaches minerals. After comparing pasteurization temperatures, I chose Spectrum Brown Rice Vinegar as the most nutritional ferment. I also have activated charcoal capsules in my pantry. Homeopathic Arsenicum Alb hastens healing from food poisoning.

Infection
Along with my beloved Goldenseal, I use colloidal silver. Silver was the natural mainstream antibiotic before the synthetic came to market in the late 30s. It treats a gamut of issues and can be ingested or applied. I find integrity and effectiveness in the brand Paul Pitchford considers the best. Here is the site. It’s been the only product to help my son’s occasional eye irritation. I lay Tennyson down for a drop or two and have him roll his eye around. Traditional Chinese Medicine says eye issues trace back to the liver. But it certainly helps to relieve the symptom. We’ve never had Pink Eye but I bet silver would be wonderful for it. I love how it’s safe for kids. The atomizer nozzle in the picture above makes it user-friendly for nostrils and throat.

Painful Cuts and Injuries Open to Infection
Goldenseal – This herb is a phenomenon. I keep some of the powder that comes in the plastic you see above also in a 1 oz. jar for ease of use. My midwife gave us some to apply on Tennyson’s umbilical stump when he was born which helped heal it quickly. Goldenseal has served us beautifully when we’ve had deep or open cuts and punctures that invite infection and can’t take ointment. When Tennyson cut his finger the other day, I scooped out just a little of the powder into a bowl and added about two drops of water to form a wet paste.  When I packed it on the site and covered it with a band-aid, I could see the relief on his face. “Aahh… feels mUch better, Mom.” And he wrapped my legs in a grateful hug. Heads-up: Goldenseal stains.

Calendula gel – I sent my boy to bed with just a little over his cut without a band-aid that first night to let it breathe. Mine is pure Calendula with no other ingredients.

Calendula ointment – The thicker version is more effective for dry skin, when sunburned or in cold weather, as the gel goes on clean and will feel like it evaporated.

Poison Ivy or Oak
Homeopathic Rhus Tox!

Sun
Okay, so I know readers on the fence who stuck it out this far will move on at this point, never to return. Conventional sunscreen has been proved carcinogenic for all the crazy, unpronounceable ingredients. Ironic indeed. The latest research has reneged on its old pontification that Sun is evil.  We need about half an hour a day over at least 20% of our body to produce the Vitamin D hormone that only she supplies. Purists forgo sunscreen altogether and keep covered with clothing and hat, but such a measure is often not very feasible in California. After years of searching, I’ve settled on Thinksport, available in most stores. We like the coconut scent and the way it absorbs as much as its effectiveness.

I feel so bad: Our last beach trip a distant year-old memory, I realized too late today that my son needed to have worn the sunscreen before he did the sand. My tired, sluggish brain saw that application and reapplication were difficult, and he came home pink in some spots. I was so disappointed with myself. Calendula oil soothed and relieved the slight itch on the sensitive areas. My boy will stay another day or so on the homeopathic Urtica Urens that hastens recovery from sunburn. Cantharis would work well, too. Aloe gel also cools and heals sunburn. Aloe plant is wonderful but the gel’s easier to apply on large areas. The little man will be doing about 3,000 I.U.s of vitamin A in gel cap the next couple of days, so good for skin. The vitamin also promotes health of mucous membranes and the upper respiratory. If the pink patches really bother him, I would apply a towel wet with comfrey root tea several times a day. Comfrey works wonders for skin – even bone – injuries. Dehydration often attends sunburn.

*Summer 2014 update: Nutribiotic Skin Ointment with 2% grapefruit seed extract is amazing for sunburn. I recently got it to keep on standby for skin irritations and injuries. A mix of echinacea, goldenseal, calendula extracts with Vitamin C and E. I like the honey that nourishes skin and acts as an antibiotic.

SmartMedI have found this reference useful for the spectrum of concerns that arise in child rearing. The book applies to adults, too. It’s written by a team of professionals that mixes conventional (Px) and natural approaches in treating anything from allergies, burns, colic, eczema, fainting, Lyme disease, with first aid instructions for emergencies like choking. Recommendations on drugs, homeopathics, herbs, acupressure, nutritional supplements, and tips on prevention form a comprehensive plan of action for each concern. You see the range of options available to you.

I’ve summed up years’ worth of research for you. It would redeem my labor of love to learn if you found the information useful, insane, or apocalyptic. In any case, I hope it interests you enough to dig further.

Healing wishes from my apothecary,

HW

Finger Injury and A Philosophy of Mishaps

P1030734Yesterday morning, I was wrestling my son when, as I was about to call it a wrap, he kneed me in a flash that remains a blur and my left finger burned tortuously. I know the neighbors heard me scream. At the risk of downplaying or demystifying the initiation into motherhood called birthing, I have to say it hurt more than it did bringing Tennyson into the world drug-free. I didn’t scream like that then. When I was able to open my eyes and uncurl from the fetal position yesterday, I saw blood had pooled instantly at the base of the nail. I won’t belabor the pain, the swelling, what the lack of circulation did to the hand but after a day at the doctor’s and X-Ray at Urgent Care, I learned the finger’s not broken. Just a very bad sprain that will take up to six weeks.

Those who’ve been following me a while should not be surprised that I’d like to take the occasion to contemplate a philosophy of mishaps.

Two voices have been trying to talk over one another in my head. Yesterday, I was everything from frustrated to worried and angry. Mostly frustrated. What is it about me that attracts accidents and physical impediments? Sheer, simple clumsiness? If you missed the Car Accident – in the Garage tale, here it is. Some hopes and plans for the upcoming months are now delayed. So disappointing that I must wait until I’m whole again. But the steady murmur that usually accompanies me won out today: on what gumption do I wake every morning expecting the day to unfurl my way like a red carpet? I often carry the awareness that everything can change any moment. A drunk behind the wheel can wipe out my family or some freak circumstance leave my son fatherless in less time than it takes to order take-out. I am not in control. So even through rough days, I live in the preciousness of the moment and gratitude for everything I have, all gifts.

P1030739I want to grumble. It’ll serve me well to lay off the typing for a bit – another displeasure, as I can’t not write for long. My piano finger! In keeping with the broad definition of ambidexterity, I favor my left for a lot of tasks. The most unpalatable part has been having to slow down the mad speed that I rush toward one thing to the next with. The dishes, the showering, the doing everything with 1.25 hands. But this too, shall pass. I’ll take it – over something permanent or chemo.

There really wasn’t a choice: I had to cut loose the pair of wedding rings. They had choked off the blood supply and were bottlenecking the finger that only kept ballooning. Peter had realized something had to be done about the rings or the finger – he was supportive, though bummed. I was SAD when they were cut apart in Urgent Care!

Nine years since the engagement, and my finger’s naked again. Honey, when I’m healed, I’ll need a new ring.

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