Two things scare me. The first is getting hurt. But that's not as scary as the second, which is losing... Lance Armstrong
While slicing carrots the other day, my knife slipped and with it went a nice portion of the pad on my right middle finger. After doing the OUCH dance, washing the wound and applying pressure, it occurred to me that I needed some Calendula--and I needed to blog about Homeopathic FIrst Aid. So here I am, with a well-healed finger, able to type once again!
Homeopathic First Aid is a fantastic introduction to home prescribing. From bumps and bruises to sprained ankles, bee stings and burns, there are Homeopathic remedies that can ease pain, lessen swelling, minimize collateral damage and speed the overall healing process.
Arnica is the workhorse of the Homeopathic arsenal. Arnica is the single most important remedy for bruises, contusions, shock and trauma. It is useful in dental procedures, sore muscles, sprains and even for labor and delivery. Arnica is commonly given both before and after surgeries to deal with the shock and trauma as well as to speed the healing process.
Rhus Tox is the most commonly indicated remedy for sprains and strains when there is pain upon initial motion that is relieved by continued motion. (I find that it is very common to start with Arnica for the bruising and swelling and then move on to Rhus Tox when the picture becomes clearer.) Rhus Tox can also be useful for certain skin conditions such as chicken pox, shingles and eczema, however, you'll want to seek further information before routinely giving Rhus Tox in skin affections.
Ledum is useful for deep cuts, puncture wounds and bug bites/stings. When Ledum is needed, the affected area may feel cold and will likely be relieved by a cold application or compress.
Hypericum is indicated for injuries to nerve-rich areas, such as fingers and toes, and for pains that are shooting, sharp, neuralgic or really sensitive to the touch. Think of Hypericum for a toothache with shooting pains or for fingers that get slammed in a car door. Ouch!
For more information about Homeopathic Remedies and how to take them, click on the "About the Remedies" button in the upper right corner of the web page.
In addition to remedies that are taken orally, there are creams, salves and gels that can be applied topically. Tinctures are substances that are preserved in alcohol and thus come in a liquid form (as opposed to the remedies which are most commonly seen as little pellets or tablets). Using a tincture typically requires dilution of at least 2:1. For dilutions, I recommend distilled water or water that has been boiled and cooled.
Calendula tincture is absolutely necessary in the home kit. Used topically, Calendula will stop bleeding, reduce inflammation, act against infection and promote the healing of tissue by promoting healthy granulation and rapid healing.
Think of Calendula for skin abrasions (it is the best thing ever for skinned knees and "road rash" from falling off a bike), for cuts, bug bites and burns. It is also fab for canker sores.
It is important to note that you never want to use Calendula on a deep wound as it works so quickly in healing the skin that it can sometimes heal the outside skin before the tissue underneath is completely healed--thus creating a hospitable environment for infection.
For wound cleaning, I use about 10 drops of Calendula tincture in about 3-5 cups of water. Companies such as Hyland's also make a convenient Calendula spray that does the job quite nicely.
For canker sores, dip a Q-tip into a 2:1 Calendula tincture dilution, apply directly and let the healing begin.
Calendula creams are great for diaper rash and dry skin patches. Weleda is my favorite brand as it uses all natural ingredients and is gentle and non-irritating. Calendula gel is a good choice as a second line of defense (after cleaning with a tincture dilution) for burns, sun burn and abrasions.
Arnica cream and gel work wonders on sore, tired muscles as well as pulls and sprains. These topical solutions are a good choice for when you need a little something but don't need to take a remedy...
Which brings up a very important point:
Homeopathic Remedies are Super Fantastic tools--but not every little scrape, bump and soreness warrants something Super Fantastic.
In our culture of quick fixes and a-pill-for-everything, it's easy to jump in and give a remedy when it might be better to let the body "exercise its muscles of healing" and wind up stronger in the long run. Have confidence in your body and if you think everything will be just fine... it probably will.
Remedies are available in a variety of over-the-counter potencies. For a home first aid kit I recommend either 12c (if you are new at this) or 30c if you've gotten a little more confident or are working in tandem with a professional Homeopath.
You can find all the remedies I mentioned at health food stores, co-ops and at Whole Foods Markets. And if you are the mother of a small child (or if you are accident prone like me) you may want to get a second tube of Arnica to keep in your purse or in the car.
But this is just the beginning... If you are interested in learning more, I would recommend taking a class and getting a user-friendly book on first aid and home prescribing. There are a number of good books out there and my favorite is: Everybody's Guide to Homeopathic Medicines by Stephen Cummings M.D. and Dana Ullman MPH.
In addition to first aid, the book also addresses common ailments such as sore throats, upset stomachs and allergies. It also provides practical information on how to use remedies and how and when to treat something at home.
So anyway, what did I do when I lost that bit of finger? I opted for a soak in diluted Calendula tincture, a sterile gauze wrap, and a week without washing dishes.