Summer Safety: Natural First Aid

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Event Date: 07/28/2000.

Did you know that cayenne pepper can stop bleeding? That honey can soothe a burn? Join herbalist Brigette Mars to discuss time tested remedies for emergencies of all sorts from injuries and ailments to natural disasters.

The opinions expressed herein are those of the guest's alone. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Moderator: Hello and welcome to the Women's Health Place on WebMD Live!

Our guest speaker today is Brigitte Mars, an herbalist and nutritional consultant from Boulder, Colorado. Brigitte is the author of Natural First Aid. She has 30 years experience working in the field of natural medicine. Brigitte teaches herbology at the Rocky Mountain Center for Botanical Studies, the Boulder College of Massage Therapy, and at Naropa University. She is a professional member of the American Herbalists Guild.

Brigitte, Welcome to WebMD LIVE, it is a pleasure having you here today.

Mars: Thank you.

Moderator: Brigitte, could you tell our members about your background and how you got interested in natural medicine and herbology?

Mars: My interest in herbs became strong when I was a teenager. I went to an all-girl boarding school and began reading about herbal remedies and started experimenting with my classmates. No one really liked the nurse that much, so they used to come to my room and ask me things like, "I just broke up with my boyfriend and I'm sad. What should I do?" And, "What should I do for my cramps?" By the time I was 17, I was managing a natural food store in the Virgin Islands, and studying the local flora of the Caribbean. Went to college and graduated from Boulder School of Massage Therapy, but lived in a teepee for two and a half years, eating nothing but wild edible plants. Being a mother also gave me lots of opportunities to use herbs to treat numerous childhood consequences.

Moderator: Brigitte, in your opinion, what first aid techniques should everyone know?

Mars: It seems that anyone who is a parent and works with children, really everyone should take a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) class. My book has instructions on how to do CPR. You need to learn it not only from a book, but to practice on a dummy and have your technique critiqued by someone well versed with CPR. But it seems that having a first aid kit in car, home, and even a mini one in your backpack or purse would be a good place to start. What to put in the first aid kit is certainly important. I think of basics like Band Aids, and tweezers to pull out splinters, and homeopathic arnica, which is used for bruising, sprains, shock, trauma. Homeopathic arnica you would take orally, and the arnica salve you would use on unbroken skin. Arnica moves fibrin, which is a protein that forms at the site of injury. Also it may be good to have lavender essential oil in your first aid kit. Simply smelling the oil can calm your nerves, help a person who feels faint, quiet an anxiety attack, and the oil can be applied directly to burns, infection, a pimple that might be developing. It can be used as an insect repellant, and has both antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. A bottle of  Echinacea tincture is good to use at the first sign of infection, and can also be applied topically to insect bites, infected wounds, although it may sting a bit because it has alcohol in it. One other thing to put in the first aid kit is Rescue Remedy, which is the name of a product available at health food stores. Two drops go under the tongue. It's for emotional trauma. It might even be the trauma of seeing an accident, or to give to someone who has been in an accident. It really calms you down. I've even used it in airplanes when the person is really afraid to fly. It's good for things like arguments. Take a break and take two drops of Rescue Remedy, and you will find that it resolves a lot better.

Moderator: What is in Rescue Remedy?

Mars: It's made from five different flowers. It's a flower essence, so it's a type of vibrational medicine, much like homeopathy. It has clematis, which is for the loss of consciousness, far away feeling; there's star of Bethlehem (flower) for shock; as well as cherry plum for fear. There's two other remedies in there as well. 

One last thing in the first aid kit is an herbal salve. An herbal salve can be applied to wounds, even broken skin. The purpose is to promote wound healing and to prevent infection. This is a tiny first aid kit that you could put in a second wallet size pack. It's a good idea for people to learn to identify plants that may be growing around them. Very often, for instance, if someone sprains their ankle, there may be plants right around you that you can use for a poultice. Herbs like plantain, comfrey leaves, are both good for topical applications of wounds, sprains, bruises. I'm certainly respectful of the wonderful first aid medical care available in our modern medical system, but it seems that we often overly rely on that. A wise person not only knows when to go to the hospital, but also what to do in an emergency when time is of the essence.