Spring! And summer, too.

Trilliums in an Ontario forest photo credit: Andy Fyon

Outdoors is where everyone wants to be, as soon as the weather warms. Here are some acute care remedies to keep in your First Aid kit:

Aconitum Napellus: Great for any ailment that starts very suddenly, or illnesses that begin as a result of exposure to cold. The first remedy to think of for any case of shock. A perfect example of a life-saving first aid use of Aconitum in shock: hypothermia from a boating accident. 200c and 1M.

Anacardium Orientale: This is the very best antidote for poison oak and ivy. Carry a 12c to 30c potency.

Apis Mellifica: a great remedy to use for bee or wasp stings; or any swellings from insect bites that swell excessively, redden, sting and burn. The burning sensations feel worse with heat, better with cold applications. I always keep this on hand to treat allergic reactions to bee and wasp stings as well as the painful burning swelling that follows black fly bites. A 6c, 12c, or 30c potency should work well for most first aid situations.

Arnica Montana: the traumatic remedy “par excellence”, this remedy addresses blunt trauma and its effects, recent or remote. Use as a first aid remedy for injuries, falls, blows, contusions (good first aid for strokes, concussions, car accidents), simple and compound fractures, and mental and physical shocks. Arnica is a great remedy for pain after the overuse of any organ, or for strain (making it a perfect treatment for overexertion). I always carry Arnica in 30c, 200c, and 1M potencies, year round. Arnica tincture has been used to treat wounds and bruises for hundreds of years and it is still easy to find for this purpose–but it must never be used topically on open wounds or in any case where inflammation is present. Never use the tincture internally; always opt for the homeopathic arnica instead as the tincture, undiluted, is a poison.

Bellis Perennis: another great traumatic remedy, Bellis Perennis is very similar to arnica except it acts on soft tissue and deeper wounds, such as the deep trauma or septic wounds to the internal organs after major surgical operations. It is a very good remedy for gardeners, who suffer from debility of limbs or soreness after gout, or muscular aches, sprains, bruises and blows in their overwork. It is also good for treating the ill effects of cold drinks, when overheated; or ailments resulting from exposure to cold, wet conditions when overheated (ailments from drinking icy drinks when overheated, or jumping into cold water when overheated). 30c and 200c potencies are the handiest.

Calendula Officinalis: although this remedy has a variety of uses in chronic diseases, it’s a wonderful remedy for treating cuts and scrapes, and suitable to all cases of injury where the skin is broken. It stops the local pain and swelling around the laceration, and acts as an antimicrobial agent to keep the area free of infection–it’s a remarkable healing agent applied topically (a good Calendula cream in a glycerin and rosewater or vanishing cream base should always be in the first aid kit) and taken in potency. As long as it is not used to treat deep wounds or puncture wounds (where it will cause the skin to heal too quickly and enable anaerobic bacteria growth), calendula will cleanse the area much more effectively than antibiotic creams and help the skin to close and heal quickly. Carry a cream in a non-alcohol base (alcohol can burn and sting on open skin) plus 30c and 200c potencies in your kit.

Cantharis: A good remedy for sunburn that is as severe as second degree burns. 30c and 200c potencies.

Causticum: Good for sunburns that are more severe, like third degree burns. 30c and 200c potencies.

Dulcamara: Dulcamara is great for any ailment that arises from exposure to cold and damp; or from weather that changes from hot and muggy to cold and damp very quickly. Colds, aches and pains and paralysis from sitting or lying on damp ground (camping!)–any ailment that follows that kind of exposure will benefit from this remedy. 12c and 30c potencies will serve best.

Glonoine: Acts quickly on all bad results from sun headaches and sunstroke, such as collapse, great sensitivity to heat and sunlight, confusion and bewilderment, pallor, arterial spasm, feeble heart rate, vertigo. Low potencies (9c, 12c) can be useful as they are easy to repeat as needed, but sunstroke can be an aggressive acute ailment. Stock 200c and 1M potencies as well.

Hypericum: A good remedy for injuries to nerves especially in fingers, toes, nails; falls which injure the tailbone; or crush injuries (like closing a door on your fingertips). It’s also an excellent remedy for puncture wounds of any kind--such as those from animal bites and insect stings. This is an excellent treatment for tetanus, and is actually a life saving remedy when used to treat injury to the brain and spinal cord. This remedy treats the excessive pain from the lacerations as well as the stinging and spasmodic pain resulting from the nerve damage in falls and crush wounds. I think it’s better to have higher potencies of this remedy on hand: 30c, 200c, 1M.

Ledum Palustre: Another good remedy for puncture wounds, particularly if they are from insects or animals that are parasitic. For this reason, Ledum is now widely used in homeopathy as a first aid/Genus Epidemicus remedy in the treatment of Lyme Disease (use if there is any kind of tick bite, or take as a prophylaxis if you are in an area where you know Lyme’s Disease is endemic). Ledum is the remedy to use to prevent tetanus (hypericum can be used if tetanus has already developed). Use Ledum for any puncture wound produced by sharp-pointed instruments or bites, particularly if the wounded parts are cold. Again, higher potencies may be more useful: 30c, 200c, 1M.

Rhus Toxicodendron: affects the fibrous tissue of the joints, tendons, sheaths of the joints in the body, and is a great remedy for over exertion that results in rheumatic pains and inflammation in the joints, especially where “limbering up” eases the pain and resting actually makes moving very painful. 12c, 30c, and 200c potencies. If used immediately after exposure to Poison ivy or oak (and Anacardium is not available), Rhus Tox can make a suitable isopathic remedy for the well known poison ivy rash. Isopathy is never as reliable as Homeopathy, but it is worth a try if nothing else is available.

Ruta Graveolens: One of the chief remedies for injured joints, tendons, and bruised bones. Very effective in treatment of flexor tendons (like tennis elbow) and lameness from sprains or from overlifting. Ruta also acts in ailments of the eyes and uterus. 12c, 30c, 200c potencies.

Urtica Urens: Good for relieving red, tight, sunburned skin. 12c and 30c potencies.

Of course, all the other preventive measures and “first aid” precautions should be taken: it helps to be trained in CPR and First Aid techniques, particularly if conditions are life threatening (such as concussions or strokes, sunstroke, deep puncture wounds especially from dangerous animal bites, blunt trauma, etc). Most of the conditions listed here are typical every day occurrences or common “problems” that pop up when you’re out camping or hiking or spending time outdoors away from home, and my suggestions are intended to make little mishaps less of a hindrance to everyone’s fun. If accidents are serious and conditions are life threatening, call for immediate help and give the remedies while you wait for help to arrive as they will lessen the severity of the accident or ailment significantly, and they may even save a life. There is no reason to decide between homeopathy or conventional treatments here–you can use remedies to ease pain, curtail further damage and threat, and calm the sufferer down without interfering with Emergency personnel or procedures in any way.