We have been asked numerous times to create a list of natural, effective first aid items for campers, survivalists, and militia organizations. These are our recommendations for those in a survival scenario. Many of them could be utilized on a simple camping trip, but this is aimed at longer-term situations in which other medical help may not be available.
Activated Charcoal (ie. Activated Carbon) - Even mainstream medicine uses activated charcoal to neutralize poisons. It is an antidote for arsenic, mercury, pesticides, strychnine, warfarin, hemlock, E. Coli, gasoline, and over 4,000 chemicals, drugs, plant and microbial toxins, allergens, venoms, and wastes. It can be used for venomous snake and spider bites. Thus, taking it on any extended trip in the wild is very wise. It is to be dampened before being taken internally (about 1 teaspoon) and placed directly onto the wounds dampened. Be aware that activated charcoal is much less effective against alcohols and cyanide. Read our activated charcoal article for a more information.
Bentonite Clay - Following exposure to snake bites, activated charcoal will only be useful for the first four hours. Following that, bentonite clay should be applied directly to the wound site, because it has a remarkable ability to draw out toxins. The Internet is riddled with people who have testified to having had amazing results with bentonite clay following snake and spider bites, but of course, results will vary with each case. Buy it now, because it is cheap, but it can be difficult to obtain.
Cayenne - Besides improving the flavor of a variety of dishes, cayenne is a miraculous herbal medicine. It can stop a heart attack within minutes, and was traditionally applied to open wounds for another purpose. Cayenne appears to be able to stop bleeding almost immediately when applied topically. It has been theorized that it does so by shrinking blood vessels, but there have been no official studies so far on this use. Old and new herbalist books claim that cayenne will stop the bleeding in under 10 seconds. It does not create a burning sensation as most people would assume. Ten seconds is faster than any pharmaceutical, so cayenne ought to be extensively studied for its life-saving applications. In the meantime, it is a great item to include in any first aid kit.
Ginger - Nausea and vomiting can make some of the most basic tasks extremely difficult, and of course, it causes seemingly endless suffering. It occurs more often in the wild as a result of food poisoning. Preventing nausea often means preventing dehydration, so ginger is another life-saver. It is now recommended as a 'complementary' therapy for those undergoing chemotherapy, in order to quell nausea. Thus ginger's efficacy has been well proven. Ginger can be held in the mouth for rapid absorption. This is a useful technique whenever nothing can be retained in the stomach. Ginger can also help to stop diarrhea.
Colloidal silver - Silver is undoubtedly one of the best anti-bacterial and anti-viral substances available. It can therefore be used to make water safer to drink, without causing major arterial damage like chlorine. Be aware that it will not kill most parasites. For emergency water, a water filter designed to remove parasites can be used, and then silver should be added to the filtered water 15 minutes before its use. Of course, we always recommend boiling the water if at all possible, and it is also wyze to make a large amount of safe water beforehand, in case there is an emergency.
Colloidal silver will also help anyone who has become sick with almost any illness. Take 2 tablespoons every few hours. It is better and safer than antibiotics in every category.
Colloidal silver is the best burn remedy in existence. It is for this reason that it is still used in burn centers. Its usefulness extends to sunburns. Using a cotton swap, rub colloidal silver over the burnt skin, and wait for it to absorb. Read our sunburn article for the best combination to eliminate sunburns within hours.
Mix colloidal silver with a small amount of sea salt inside of spring water to make an effective eye wash. The salt will make the silver solution closer to that of human tears, and therefore, it will minimize burning sensations. It needs to be made in a dropper bottle beforehand, because there is no time in an eye emergency. We always keep some ready in our house, and it kills pink eye in a matter of minutes.
Iodine - Iodine can be a life safer for deep wounds. It penetrates deeply to kill all infectious bacteria. Wound infections must be prevented, so apply iodine liberally to any injury that breaks the skin on a regular basis, until the wound has scabbed over. The iodine will boost the immune system, and promote rapid healing too.
Echinacea - Echinacea was the very first herb to be called "snake oil", because it was known to neutralize venoms before herbs became a threat to the medical business. Use it orally in massive doses following a venomous bite, and topically mix it into the bentonite clay that was mentioned earlier. Echinacea can also be taken alongside colloidal silver if a member of the party becomes sickened. It provides a boost to the immune system, and it is an effective anti-viral.
Apple Cider Vinegar - While not as vital as other items on this list, apple cider vinegar has a variety of uses. It can quickly eliminate indigestion, heartburn, sunburns (in combination with silver), and can sometimes help with headaches.
Chamomile - This herb is ideal for quickly eliminating insect bites. Chamomile can be purchased in capsule form, and the capsules should be opened and mixed with vodka before directly applying to insect bites. It is an anti-histamine, and can therefore suppress allergic reactions. Bear in mind that it is also a mild sedative, so chamomile is the Benadyrl of the natural world. For maximum effect against insect bites, a solution of it really needs to be made well in advance, as described in the story from the above link. Chamomile is a relative of ragweed and should be used with caution in those who suffer from ragweed allergies. If any allergic symptoms occur, then discontinue.
Eye Drops - When an eye problem occurs, eye drops are a necessity that needs to be pre-made and ready. Our article, Quick Tip: Potent Homemade Eye Drops For Dryness, Irritation, Itching, and Various Infections, provides instructions on the creation of safe, natural, and effective eye drops.
Anti-Inflammatories - The discomfort caused by sprains and other trauma injuries can be alleviated with natural anti-inflammatories. Devil's Claw, cherry concentrate, and MSM are the most effective for injuries. Devil's Claw has been shown in studies to be more effective than Vioxx. MSM is a source of sulfur that has been repeatedly shown in research to help with both join pain and injury-related inflammation.
Baking Soda and Vinegar - Wasp, hornet, and bee stings can be eliminated using one of these substances. See our article, Natural Remedies for Bee, Wasp, and Hornet Stings for information about how to use them.
Opium, cannabis ("marijuana") - While illegal in most areas of the world, these herbs are ideal for pain relief. As written previously, the establishment's rigorous control over these herbs is intended to keep us reliant on its system, because enough pain will force anyone to see a doctor. Cannabis is good for mild to medium pain relief and nausea, while opium is needed for suppressing extreme pain. It would be wise to include these pain-killing herbs into a first aid kit, but be aware that we cannot advise readers about the obvious legal implications.
Bandages - An essential part of any good first aid kit.
Needles, tweezers - These two items can help with small injuries such as splinters, and generally come in handy.
Phone Numbers - Any good first aid kit will contain phone numbers to a nearby hospital, poison control center, and any other people that you might need to contact in an emergency.