They May Be Unusual But They Work (Well, Even!)
Wounds and injuries are a part of life — from burns while cooking, cuts while doing yard work, or bruises from moving furniture — they happen to everyone, and often at inconvenient times. But injuries don’t have to slow us down. With proper natural wound care products, wounds can be easily treated so we can get back on track. What’s more, natural treatments for wound care are just as effective as any prepared medicines available at the store.
Natural Wound Care Products
While there are a variety of wound care products that can be used to effectively treat injuries, these ten common pantry ingredients and herbs are essential to have in a natural first-aid kit.
1. Manuka honey/Pure honey
In addition to the fact that honey has an indefinite shelf life, it is also antimicrobial and antibacterial, making it excellent for treating wounds. While all honey has these healing properties, manuka honey (produced from the manuka bush native to New Zealand, also referred to as tea tree) has the highest concentration of antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Amy Branum, herbalist and founder of Boutique Botanika as well as contributing author of Dermveda, notes that her “favorite way to use honey is to simply spread it across the cleaned wound and cover with a bandage. This can be changed out 2-3 times a day.”
2. Activated Charcoal
In terms of being able to draw infection or foreign matter from wounds, activated charcoal can’t be beat. A drawing salve, a topical application with charcoal and herb infused oils as the active ingredients, is the easiest and most effective way to apply it to a wound. For wounds such as having a splinter stuck in the skin, apply a layer of salve to the injury and cover loosely with a clean bandage for a least a few hours’ time in order to draw out the object or infection. Despite the salve’s black hue, it will not stain the skin or clothing.
Promoting healing, reducing bleeding, and fighting infection have long made yarrow an important herbal remedy. Applying a poultice directly to the injury — especially bleeding gashes — is one of the most effective treatments.
Also known as pot marigold, calendula has a similar appearance to common annual marigolds, but is in fact distinct botanically from the specimens found in garden centers. Containing large amounts of antioxidants, calendula increases circulation to wounds, which promotes healing. Branum notes that “the tea or diluted tincture makes a wonderful wound wash. Calendula salve or calendula oil is a favorite way to use it once the wound has been thoroughly cleaned.”
Comfrey is also very effective at reducing inflammation, though caution should be used in its application. Containing a form of alkaloids that can cause liver issues in large concentrations, comfrey should only be used topically and should not be applied on broken skin. Branum says “it heals so quickly that it is not recommended to be used on puncture wounds. This is because the skin on top will heal and close more quickly than the deeper tissues that are not getting the same exposure to the comfrey, which can lead to infection.” That being said, it is an effective treatment for bruises when applied as an ointment or cream.
6. Tea Tree
Another effective antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory treatment is tea tree, commonly using the essential oil in topical preparations such as tinctures, ointments, or salves. An effective antiseptic, application to a bruise or injury topically can help prevent infection and promote healing.
7. Silver Oxide
Silver oxide, in the form of nano colloidal/ionic silver or chelated silver oxide, may not be a treatment that everyone has in their medicine cabinet, but it is a worthwhile addition. A common treatment before the advent of modern pharmaceutical antibiotics, silver is a powerful antibacterial agent. To speed healing of injuries such as rashes, burns, cuts and scrapes, the easiest application method is to apply a chelated silver cream to the affected area.
A common yard and garden weed, the two varieties of Common and Narrow Leaf plantain grow just about anywhere. Not to be confused with the fruit also called plantain, the leaf varieties growing abundantly in yards and roadsides are excellent for fighting inflammation and soothing skin. A fresh poultice is the most common form of treatment, but salves and ointments can be made with it as well.
Aloe is famous for its ability to cool and soothe the skin, especially in the case of burns. Very easy to grow as a potted houseplant, the easiest way to treat a burn is to simply split open a leaf and spread the gel over the affected area.
Another powerful anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial, chamomile is an excellent herb that can reduce inflammation and pain. According to Branum, “it is best used as a wash or salve on red, inflamed wounds to help soothe swelling and calm irritations. Moistened chamomile tea bags are easy to have on hand to apply to wounds.”
Wound care can easily and effectively start at home with natural wound care products you can likely find in your pantry. With a well-stocked medicine cabinet, most common injuries can be treated in order to reduce pain and discomfort, and promote healing without having to resort to over-the-counter or prescriptions medications. Branum cautions that:
Any serious injury should be checked out by a doctor. If it seems manageable from home and there is not concern of a current infection, then natural remedies are generally safe. If an infection does occur, then seek the guidance of a physician or at least a professional herbalist. If the wound appears to not be healing, infection is growing, or there is red streaking, go to a doctor immediately.
Natural wound care products for everyday wounds are an excellent first line of defense, and can work in a complementary fashion with more conventional treatments when they are required.
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