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A DIY Summertime Natural First-Aid Kit

By Lawrence Rosen, MD



Bumps, burns, bruises and bites: a typical summer day in the life of a busy pediatrician.  These are the most common reasons parents seek our help this time of year, but they are also conditions that usually respond to safe and effective natural remedies.  Of course, if you’re concerned an injury may be serious enough to warrant immediate medical attention, call your doctor first.  But I find many of these afflictions can be safely treated at home or on-the-go.  There’s no better time to put together a DIY summertime natural first-aid kit. 


Bumps and Bruises:My go-to option for bumps before they become bruises is Arnica montana (aka “wound herb”), derived from the daisy family.  Arnica can be applied topically in ointment form or can be taken orally in homeopathic form (under the tongue).  I generally recommend the 30c dilution for acute oral use.  A typical regimen is 5 pellets given every 15 minutes for the first hour, then hourly for four hours and then every 2-4 hours for the remainder of the first 24 hours (while awake).   I then recommend taking 5 pellets three times a day for several days until any soreness or bruising has resolved.  For children who cannot or will not put the tablets under their tongue, you can dissolve the pellets in water and let them sip gradually over a few hours.  Topical arnica can be used separately or in addition.


Bites:For pesky insect bites, go to your kitchen cabinet before your medicine cabinet.  Baking soda has alkaline properties that help neutralize insect bites.  You can apply topically as a paste by mixing the baking soda with a small amount of water.  Apply as needed until the pain and itching subside.


Stings:“Like cures like” according to one of the core principles of homeopathic medicine.  Therefore, for bee stings, I recommend homeopathic Apis mellifica, derived from the honey bee.  For acute use, again, the 30c strength is optimal, and this is definitely one remedy you want to start ASAP to limit the pain, redness and swelling from the sting.  You can follow the same general dosing guidelines used for Arnica cited above.


Sunburns:If you have one plant in your house, it should be Aloe vera.  The medical use of the Aloe plant can be traced back over 6,000 years to early Egypt based on evidence from ancient stone carvings.  The sticky gel found inside the spiky leaves contains numerous natural chemicals that block pain, itching, inflammation and infection, while increasing circulation to speed healing.  Of course, you can buy Aloe vera gel if you don’t have a plant handy, and you should apply the gel to the sunburn as often as needed to soothe the inflamed skin. 


Scrapes:My first-line option for minor skin irritations is topical Calendula officinalis, derived from the marigold.  Calendula possesses potent wound healing capabilities.  Apply topically as needed, usually three times a day.  Calendula comes in ointment, cream and gel formulations, and it’s so safe that it’s included in many baby diaper rash products.


For more information on natural remedies for common pediatric conditions, check out Dr. Rosen’s book, “Treatment Alternatives for Children.”



Lawrence Rosen, MD is an integrative pediatrician and co-author of Treatment Alternatives for Children, an evidence-based guide for parents interested in natural solutions for common childhood ailments. He is the founder of one of the country’s first “green” pediatric practices, The Whole Child Center, in Oradell, NJ, and serves as Medical Advisor to the Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center . Dr. Rosen is a founding member and Past Chair of the AAP Section on Integrative Medicine and is appointed as Clinical Assistant Professor in Pediatrics at UMDNJ. A graduate of New York Medical College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he completed his residency and chief residency in pediatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Dr. Rosen has been featured on Good Morning America, CNN, and Imus in the Morning, and he is a frequently cited expert on children’s and environmental health matters. He is a contributing editor and pediatric columnist for Kiwi Magazine, as well as a contributing author/editor for several books, including Integrative Pediatrics, Green Baby, and Pediatric Clinics of North America: Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Dr. Rosen serves on many integrative health advisory boards, including the Holistic Moms Network, Teleosis Institute, and Integrative Healthcare Symposium, Integrative Touch for Kids, PedCAM, Kula for Karma, and MarbleJam Kids.

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