New Trendy Old Medicines: Natural Essentials for the Household First-Aid Kit

Often I find myself asked for parenting advice regarding healing the unwell child using natural remedies. But do they work? Well, our own children have collectively been alive for almost 27 years, and haven’t yet required a course of antibiotic drugs.

Is that luck? On one hand, Yes: We were lucky none of our children were born prematurely when antibiotics are essential to assist an immature immune system. And on the other hand, No: We’ve worked hard to ensure our children’s immune systems function optimally, to avoid the need for pharmaceutical antibiotic drugs and their adverse side-effects.

To accomplish this requires far more than the following list of first-aid natural remedies – but these healing therapies gifted from Mother Nature are a great start:

Aloe Vera

Although aloe plants look similar to cacti, they are members of the lily family, and there are over 200 species of aloe plants growing in arid and tropical countries around the world. The healing properties of the gel inside the leaves of the aloe vera plant were discovered centuries ago. They are easy to grow — it’s a great idea to even have an aloe vera plant growing in a pot inside or in the garden, as you only need to break off a leaf to use it.

Aloe vera gel has wonderfully restorative effects on skin and it can also be taken internally. Aloe vera gel is recognised as a good remedy to help soothe and heal minor burns, itchy insect bites, nappy rash, cuts, scratches, and sunburn, and taken internally for colds, ear infections, sore throats, toothaches and asthma attacks.


Probably the best known of all homeopathic tinctures, Arnica is derived from the herb Arnica montana (mountain daisy), and comes in various forms including sprays, drops and tablets for taking internally; and creams and gels for external use. Arnica is globally renowned for its anti-inflammatory healing of bruises, knocks, falls, sprains, strains, sore aching muscles, fractures, pain, swelling, traumatic injuries, concussion, insect bites and stings, nose-bleeds, and is used pre- and post-surgery. (It should not be applied to broken skin.)

Bach flower essences — Rescue Remedy

In the 1930’s London, surgeon and bacteriologist (and later pathologist) Dr Edward Bach discovered 38 flower-essence remedies, which were categorised into seven groups. He found treating the emotive personalities of patients by alleviating their unhappy feelings was a very effective way to unblock the body’s natural restorative abilities.

Probably the most famous Bach flower tincture is called Rescue Remedy, which is a combination of five flower essences. Rescue Remedy has an immediate calming and emotionally stabilising effect in stressful conditions. Around the world people use it for many different situations, e.g. traumatic accidents or emergencies, before public speaking, before tests, for an over-active mind before sleep, and after arguments.

This naturopathic remedy is completely safe to use in pregnancy, during labour, by breastfeeding mothers and to give to babies. It is useful with an overtired or over-stimulated baby, a baby woken by a fright, an upset colicky baby, tantrumming toddler, and an upset child after injury or nightmare.


Calendula is a homeopathic tincture derived from the herb Calendula officinalis (marigold), which is available in various healing forms, including drops for taking internally, and creams and gels for external use.

Calendula is an antiseptic (kills bacteria) and analgesic (pain-reliever) that is globally renowned for its soothing healing of injured skin; dry, chapped skin; cuts, abrasions, rashes, blistering and minor burns. It helps stop bleeding and promotes healthy skin texture and tissue repair to reduce scars.


Native to America and known as the purple coneflower, Echinacea is harvested for its roots, seeds, flower-heads and juice; and was a main medicinal remedy used by the American Indians. It is one of Mother Nature’s natural antibiotics, and is an excellent remedy to help rid the body of microbial infections.

Echinacea has traditionally been used for treating insect bites, teeth or gum pains, colds, measles, mumps, bacterial and viral attacks, boils, laryngitis, tonsillitis, nose and sinus problems, septic sores and cuts, streptococcus and staphylococcus. It also has excellent immunity-stimulating properties, plus it ‘cleanses’ the lymph and blood systems.

Use echinacea when the body is sickly, run-down, or has a sluggish immune system that is having difficulty fighting such conditions as a lingering cold, recurring thrush, and as an alternative to antibiotics. Even the (conservative) WHO reportedly supports the use of echinacea for colds, flus, infections of the respiratory and urinary tracts, poorly healing wounds and chronic ulcerations.


Known as the stinking rose or Russian penicillin, the health benefits of garlic have been known for thousands of years, but it is garlic’s compound allicin that is perhaps the most famous. When fresh garlic is crushed it releases allicin — but this compound only exists in this state for a few hours (and alters with cooking).

Mixing a little fresh well-crushed raw garlic into infant milk, juice or food, has been shown to display fantastic antifungal and antibiotic powers, and can be used to treat oral thrush, streptococcus, colds, flus, and children whose systems have become antibiotic-resistant. And of course the sulphur-rich components in cooked garlic do provide many general health benefits, including to the cardiovascular and immune systems.


Hypercal is a homeopathic combined remedy of calendula (marigold) and hypericum (St John’s wort). It comes in various forms including drops, creams and gel for external use.

Hypercal is globally renowned for its calming healing of skin infection, injured skin, cuts and sores. It helps the skin recover quickly, promoting healthy, rapid healing. (Hypericum is a natural antiseptic and analgesic healing agent which stops bleeding and relieves sharp pains, infection and nerve damage.)

Olive leaf extract

Olive leaf extract has been used since Egyptian times, and started to show up in western medical journals from the late 1800s. However, scientists are now discovering that olive leaf extract is one of nature’s best broad-spectrum medicines, with compounds that are antimicrobial (fighting disease microorganisms); antiviral; and antiretroviral (fighting viruses that contain genetic material that integrates with human cells).

So, among other things, modern research has found that olive leaf extract is particularly effective against viruses, bacteria, fungus, yeast infections, and worm parasites; that is aids coronary blood flow — and that even doses several hundred times higher than recommended have no toxic or adverse side effects.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is recognised as a very effective antiseptic and antibacterial agent, fungicide and germicide. Used externally and internally, it also promotes tissue regeneration. Tea tree oil has many uses, including treating burns, thrush, cuts, nappy rash, ear aches, insect bites and stings, pimples, scaly scalp, sinus and bronchial congestion, eczema, splinters and sunburn.

Author Bio
Kathy Fray is an entertaining speaker, magazine columnist, parenting advisor and author of the popular book “OH BABY…Birth, Babies & Motherhood Uncensored”.

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