Survival medicine: Healing herbs for your first aid kit
11/16/2022 // Zoey Sky // Views

The typical first aid kit usually includes common basic supplies like adhesive bandages, gauze, iodine, scissors and sticky white tape.

But preppers know you have to be adaptable, and this means knowing how to use medicinal herbs to treat common complaints like burns, cuts and small wounds. Before SHTF, learn how to make poultices, salves and tinctures to treat minor aches and pains. (h/t to

Tips for organizing your herbal first aid kit

To make an herbal first aid kit, start by organizing your supplies and homemade herbal products.

If you keep things in different parts of the house depending on their uses, reorganizing is important because it will make it easier to find things when you need them if they were stored together in one easy to access container.

After you gather all your ingredients and supplies, look for a sturdy storage container. You can use an art-supply box, a sewing box or a tackle box, but a heavy-duty, three-tiered plastic toolbox is recommended.

If you go camping or hiking often, you can prepare a smaller version of your herbal first aid kit with the most essential items. You can also include a mini-kit for your bug-out bag.

Before SHTF, label all items clearly and include an instruction sheet on the proper use of each item so your family members know how to use them if you aren't with them. (Related: Survival medicine: How to make tinctures for your SHTF first aid kit.)

Basic items for a first aid kit

These are important items for any first-aid kit, even if you don't have any herbal remedies:


  • Adhesive bandages (Assorted sizes)
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Candles
  • Hot water bottle
  • Ice pack
  • Magnifying glass
  • Matches
  • Needles or safety pins (Assorted sizes)
  • Scissors
  • Sterile, non-stick bandages (Assorted sizes)
  • Thermometer
  • Tweezers

Healing herbs for your first aid kit

Here are some herbal remedies you can include in your prepper first aid kit:

Aloe vera gel

Use aloe vera gel to soothe minor kitchen burns, rashes and sunburns.

Do not use aloe vera gel on someone with a staph infection because it will seal in the bacteria, allowing it to multiply.

Arnica gel

Use arnica gel to treat bruises and muscle aches and pains.

Candied ginger

Make candied ginger and store it in an airtight container. Take some candied ginger to soothe an upset stomach and relieve motion sickness.

Follow the recipe below to make candied ginger:


  • 10 Ounces fresh young ginger root, peeled
  • 2 Cups white sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon water


  1. Cut the ginger into two-inch pieces and slice lengthwise into 1/8-inch slices. Score the ginger slices by pricking them with a clean fork.
  2. Toss the ginger with the sugar in a large bowl.
  3. Combine the ginger-sugar mixture and water in a large skillet or wok. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
  4. Reduce heat and cook the ginger. Stir occasionally until the sugar melts into a syrup and starts to crystallize, or for at least one hour.
  5. Continue stirring until the syrup is mostly crystallized and the ginger comes together in a pile in the center of the skillet. When very little syrup drains out, the ginger is ready. Remove the pan from the heat.
  6. Drain the syrup, then set it aside.
  7. Toss the ginger slices gently to cool and separate them from the excess sugar.
  8. Spread the ginger slices out on a tray to cool and dry.


Use the leftover ginger sugar in coffee, cookies or any dish that you want to add a sweet and flavorful ginger accent.

Cotton cheesecloth or muslin

Use clean, washed cotton cheesecloth or muslin as a compress or for wrapping wounds and poultices.

External liniment

Use the liniment as a sore muscle rub and to dry poison ivy.

If it's your first time using liniment, do a skin test on the inside of your elbow. Use caution when using the liniment on a child, the elderly or someone with sensitive skin.

This liniment uses goldenseal, which is a threatened species. Use only sustainably-sourced goldenseal. Alternatively, you can substitute Oregon grape root powder for goldenseal.

Follow the recipe below to make a soothing external liniment:


  • 1 Pint rubbing alcohol (If only using externally) or 1 pint 100-proof vodka (For external/internal use.)
  • 1 Ounce echinacea powder
  • 1 Ounce goldenseal powder
  • 1 Ounce myrrh powder
  • 1/4 Ounce cayenne powder


  1. In a Mason jar, combine the echinacea, goldenseal, myrrh and cayenne powder. Cover the herbs with alcohol, but leave a little headspace.
  2. Stir to mix all ingredients thoroughly. Cover with a tight-fitting lid.
  3. Let the mixture steep for two to four weeks. Shake or stir often.
  4. When done, strain the mixture and store it in amber glass bottles. Add a spritzer top to one of the bottles so it can be used to spray on cuts and wounds. Use regular screw caps if you're using them as a liniment or mouthwash.
  5. If you're using rubbing alcohol, clearly label it "FOR EXTERNAL USE ONLY."


You need an eyecup to wash or rinse someone's eye after SHTF.

Green salve

Green salve can be used to soothe chafing, insect bites, minor cuts, scrapes and skin irritation.

Try the recipe below to make a green salve that can help calm inflammation and soothe insect bites:

You will need:

  • Cheesecloth
  • Double boiler or makeshift double boiler
  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Medium bowl
  • Small tins or lip balm tubes


  • 1/2 Cup (4oz/120ml) avocado oil (You can also use olive or sunflower oil)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons (.7oz/14g) beeswax
  • 2 Tablespoons (.25 oz/7g) dried plantain leaves
  • 1 Tablespoons (.037oz/1g) dried chickweed or calendula petals
  • 1 Tablespoon (.08oz/2.25g) dried lavender buds


  1. Before you start making the liniment, you need to infuse the oil with the herbs. If you are planning ahead, infuse using the cold-infusion method.
  2. To infuse via the cold-infusion method place the herbs and oil in a jar and close the lid. Gently shake the jar so the herbs and oil are well combined. Let the mixture sit in a cool, dark room for at least four weeks.
  3. If you need the salve soon, use the hot infusion method. Place the herbs and oil in a heatproof jar, then place the jar in a pot filled with an inch or two of water. Warm the water over low heat for three to four hours. Keep an eye on the pot in case the water in the base needs refilling. Once infused sufficiently, set the jar aside in a safe place to cool. Strain out the herbs.
  4. Pour the cooled liquid into tins or lip balm tubes and allow it to cool and set.
  5. Apply the liniment to bites as needed.

Jewelweed vinegar

Jewelweed vinegar can be used to repel biting insects.

To make this remedy, infuse jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) in organic apple cider vinegar and add insect-repellent essential oils if you want to.

Spray jewelweed vinegar on your skin to soothe poison ivy and bug bites. You can also apply it before going into the woods.

Slippery elm lozenges

Slippery elm's demulcent properties coat the throat, so the lozenges can help soothe a sore mouth or throat. They are available in different flavors.

Keep in mind that they have a laxative effect if taken in excess.


Spritzers made with distilled water and essential oils have aromatherapeutic and antibacterial qualities.

Tea strainer or tea ball

Use a tea strainer or tea ball to make herbal teas or decoctions.

Wild cherry syrup

Make wild cherry syrup at home to treat coughs and sore throat.

Witch hazel

Witch hazel is a natural astringent that can be used as a disinfectant to clean skin, relieve itching and as a liniment for sore muscles.

Before disaster strikes, gather your herbal remedies and ingredients and prepare an herbal first aid kit so you can treat minor aches and pains.

Watch the video below to know more about the health benefits of witch hazel.

This video is from the Holistic Herbalist channel on

More related stories:

Prepper essentials: What to include in your SHTF first aid kit.

Prepping before SHTF: 16 Items for your survival first aid kit.

Essential supplies to pack in your first aid kit for a camping trip.

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