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10 Common Injuries And How To Treat Them


10 Common Injuries And How To Treat ThemDisclaimer: I am not a medical doctor and nothing in this article should be taken as medical advice. Please talk to your doctor before using any of the herbs and/or remedies mentioned in this article.

Many people are intimidated by first aid treatment methods. Because it’s associated with doctors, who are some of the most intelligent people in the world, people assume first aid must be very complicated. As a result, many people tend to shy away from first aid skills. And now it’s gotten to where most people don’t know anything beyond “put a Band-Aid on it.”

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The truth is, basic first aid is not very complicated. And to prove it, I’m going to explain how to treat 10 common (and minor) injuries in one article.

Remember, if you ever plan on using plants and herbs as part of your emergency response to an injury, make sure you practice identifying plants and know their growing habits and locations. This is so you don’t panic and have your mind go blank when you need it.

1. Insect Stings

This is possibly the most common summer injury. I don’t mean mosquito bites, but rather stings from bees, wasps, and hornets. Treating a sting requires only one thing: something that draws the poison out. For a yellow jacket or bee sting, chew some plantain, dandelion, or bee-balm leaves to a pulp and apply it to the spot for quick pain relief. Lavender blossoms will also give relief if applied to a sting as soon as it happens.

Hornets, particularly the tiny kind, have a more painful sting that may or may not respond to plantain or bee-balm. For hornet stings, or any other long-lasting sting, a paste of activated charcoal and water applied directly to the sting will give relief within 5 minutes and completely draw out the poison within 10 minutes.

2. Plant Stings

The plant I run afoul of most often is the stinging nettle. While the nettle is a very helpful plant, being a great source of fiber and many health benefits, the stings can be quite nasty. The sting from an adult nettle stalk can penetrate cotton gloves, and closely resembles the sting of a wasp. Similar to wasp stings, plantain or bergamot applied directly to the spot will quickly remove the swelling and draw out the irritating stinging hair. Be sure to clean the area and avoid scratching it.

To help children avoid the other most common irritating plants, teach them “leaves of three let it be.” This will help them avoid running into poison ivy, oak, and sumac. Also, teach them to avoid any plant that is tall, has giant white flower umbrellas, and/or has sticky latex-like sap. These three characteristics match giant hogweed and poison hemlock, two of the worst plants to run into.

3. Spider Bites

Depending on the spider, and if you can identify it, you may want to get medical attention. Brown recluse spiders are the worst as their poison kills cells and spreads, causing cell die-off very similar to gangrene. Black widow bites can be fatal in some circumstances, particularly with young spiders.

If you have a spider bite that is unidentified and fresh, the first thing you want to do is draw out the poison. Use activated charcoal or plantain for this purpose. Apply a paste of activated charcoal or ground plantain and leave it on the bite for at least half an hour. Then rinse it off and check the bite.

The swelling should have decreased and the pain should mostly be gone. If it isn’t, reapply until the pain and swelling are gone or until you can get to a doctor.

4. Slivers

Whether because of working with dry firewood, wooden floors, or heavy grass, slivers are frequent for anyone who works with their hands. First, don’t squeeze the area because that could make it worse. Wash and dry the area, then put it under a bright light so you can inspect it. Most slivers can be removed with tweezers and a sterilized needle or pin. If it’s particularly shallow, try pulling it out with duct tape or electrical tape.

A deep wood or glass sliver, however, may require more drastic measures. Make a paste out of water and baking soda, spread it onto a bandage, and cover the area with the bandage. Wait a full day and remove the bandage. The sliver should be sticking out enough to pull it out with tweezers.

5. Minor Burns

Stoves, irons, campfires, hot oil, and even just stray sparks can all cause minor burns. A minor burn is less than a square inch and caused by very brief contact with a hot object. Soak the burn in cool water for 5 minutes, then apply lavender (diluted essential oil, or a bit of crushed lavender blossoms) and the gel part of an aloe vera leaf. If you don’t have any aloe vera, use coconut oil instead.

6. Sunburn Treatment

This type of burn seems to be the most common, particularly in the summer. Start by cooling the sunburn with a towel dampened in cold water or cold black tea. Then apply coconut oil with a drop or two of lavender essential oil (not fragrance oil). With this treatment, the burn should shift to a tan by the next morning, be pain free, and not peel.

7. Cuts and Scrapes

Whether falling on a gravel path, tripping on a tree root, or taking a tumble off a bike, cuts and scrapes are bound to happen. Most of them can be cleaned with soap and warm water. If you suspect deeply embedded gravel or sand, pour a small amount of hydrogen peroxide on the scrape to help lift the dirt, then rinse it with warm water again.

Apply an antibacterial salve or cream to the injury, and cover it with a clean bandage until the scrape is scabbed over. If you use essential oils, never apply undiluted essential oils to an open injury as it can cause sensitivity to that oil later on.

8. Bruises

Apply a cold compress to a bruise immediately after the injury happens. This will slow blood flow in the area and help reduce swelling. Do not apply ice or a cold compress for more than 5 to 10 minutes at a time. Cold is only effective immediately after the injury occurs.

For quick reduction of a bruise, apply a compress of crushed yarrow leaves. Yarrow encourages the blood vessels to contract and congealed blood to be reabsorbed, and will reduce the pain, swelling, and appearance of the bruise.

9. Heat Exhaustion

If you plan on hiking, traveling, or working outdoors in the summer, you will want to memorize the signs of heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is the step just before heat stroke. Heat exhaustion can be reversed at home, but heat stroke needs immediate hospital attention.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion and its accompanying dehydration include dizziness, flushed face, slight swelling in extremities, and being hot but not sweating as much as one should be in that much heat.

Treat any suspicion of heat exhaustion with water and electrolytes. Get the person out of direct sun, into shade, or indoors in a cool location. Encourage them to eat something, like a piece of fruit, that has sugars and minerals in it, or take electrolyte concentrate in water.

Make sure they drink cool water and stay out of direct sun until all trace of the dizziness, flushed face, and slight swelling has passed.

Note: Children and people with a history of low blood pressure are the most susceptible to heat exhaustion due to easy dehydration. Teach your kids to stay hydrated and how to recognize the early signs of dehydration.

10. Sprains

The best way to treat sprains is the RICE method, which stands for rest, ice, compress, and elevate. You want to rest the sprain by lying down and taking pressure off of it. Next you should apply ice to reduce the pain and swelling. Compress it by loosely wrapping it in an elastic bandage. And finally, elevate the sprain above your heart using some pillows and/or folded blankets.

As you can see, these injuries are easy enough for anyone to treat. Don’t just put Band-Aids on everything or rush to the ER over minor injuries, which only wastes hospital workers’ time. Learn how to take care of these things yourself.

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  1. Tom on August 17, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    While I am very fond of natural remedies, lets not forget some man made things that have alternative uses. For example, apple cider vinegar. While takeing my CERT training course under a few firemen, I learned that for burns even small area third degree burns, application of apple cider vinegar to the burned area quickly reduces the pain and speeds the healing. The same is true for sun burns. It works faster than creams and cold water and does a better job of healing.

    I did not see small cuts listed here but did see black tea to be used. well in the case of small cuts, black tea is also useful. Having been on warfarin I had to be careful. But since I work a lot with my hands I was always getting nicked or cut some how. What I used was black tea in a bag, moistened and then applied to the cut. Do not used any kind of herbal tea as one it will not work and two it will burn. The caffeine in the black tea causes the capillaries and small veins to constrict thus slowing the blood flow and allowing the natural coagulation of the blood to start working faster. In one instance the son of a neighbor had badly gashed his thumb. I offered to stitch it up with the warning I had no pain killer but he refused. So I did the next best thing, I cleaned the wound, applied dissenfectent and then made a bandage of damp black tea bags and wrapped it. His mother came home and saw the blood and came out to find him. She decided to take him to the ER. When she got there the nurse was surprised to see the tea bags and wondered how they knew to use them. The mother said the neighbor did it. The nurse told her that it was a good thing because he would have lost a lot more blood other wise.

    Lastly and I only recommend this if you can truly handle pain. As I said I used to be on warfarin. Sometimes I did not have access to tea bags so the next best thing was salt. I would apply salt directly to the wound. Not only did it prevent infection it also acts as a coagulant and stops the bleeding. Warning it is painful at first bu the more often you do it the less it hurts. You get used to it.

  2. David Walters on August 17, 2016 at 5:24 am

    Great tips on treating common injuries, here’s a few more with respect to burns, bruises and sprains. With burns add a pinch of turmeric (found in most health food stores) to aloe vera, cover with gauze and reapply every few days until the burn heals. Downside is it will discolor the skin but should wash off after a few weeks.

    With bruising eating more peppers, citrus fruits, or any fruit rich in vitamin C is a good preventative measure. Using a cream made from arnica will also help heal bruising. For best results apply 3/4 times a day.

    Treating sprains using the RICE method is great advice. Using simple table salt mixed with turmeric (1 part salt, 2 part turmeric) into a paste and applied to the sprained area can relieve the swelling. To prevent staining of clothes (turmeric) cover the area with a cotton flannel or muslin. Again .. any skin discoloration will wash off in a few weeks..

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