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Minor Burns: Herbal 1st Aid

Minor Burns: Herbal 1st Aid

Fire fills our lives with luxuries we now take for granted like cooked food and warm rooms in winter. When we forget about the power of the fire element, we get burned. Summer is the most common time for minor burns because we are more likely to be outside. Sunburns can vary in severity too. Although sunburn causes different types of damage in the long term, short term treatment for it is the same as that of 1st degree burns from touching a hot object. Prevention is our first layer of protection but accidents happen. There are several herbs that help us salve the burns left by this oversight.

A minor burn is a 1st degree burn which involves pain and reddening of the outer skin. Sometimes the burn victim can experience nausea depending on wide spread the burn is, how dehydrated they are and other factors. More serious burns which include blisters, swelling or blackened flesh such as 2nd or 3rd or 4th degree burns require more extensive assistance and are not covered in this article.

To treat a minor burn, first wash the wound with cool water, then apply the herbal treatment and cover the area with a bandage. Do not put oil on a burn. It will only make the burn worse. The treatment recommended below is for first degree burns; more serious burns require help by a qualified health care practitioner.

The first herb that most people think of for burns is Aloe Vera. Fortunately, this is an easy plant to grow in a window sill or to keep in its gel form in the refrigerator. It is common to find the gel in stores but nothing beats the soothing power of freshly harvested aloe leaf. Another Aloe relative that is often at hand is Hen-and-Chicks (Sempervivum tectorum). The leaves of this common rock garden plant have the same soothing effect on burns as does Aloe Vera. Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to the gel from these plants to increase their soothing power.

Never underestimate the healing power of Calendula. One of my favorite remedies for minor burns is calendula infused witch hazel. I soak the flower heads (dried to prevent mold) in witch hazel for several days then strain out the infused liquid and put it in a spritzer bottle. It provides extra pain relief if a few drops of clove essential oil is added to each ounce.

Another quick remedy for burns is available in the tea cupboard. Simply wet a black or green tea bag with slightly warm water and apply it to the wound. The tannin in tea shrinks the swollen tissues that cause the pain while the antioxidant speed healing.

hen and chicksThe third easy treatment for burns is hidden in a honey pot. Honey cools the burn and provides natural antibacterial agents that allow the wound to heal without scarring. Honey is an easy first aid herb to apply to children. Most kids have a sweet tooth, so I give the littlest burn victims a dab of honey to lick off the tip of their finger for being brave when the nursing is over.

List of Herbal Allies for Treatment of Minor Burns

Nutrition for Treatment of Minor Burns

The body needs antioxidants to heal burns. Vitamin E is an excellent topical ointment to use after the burned area is on its way to recovery. Vitamin A and D ointment is also designed for minor burn treatment. Be sure to eat a lot of flavonoid-rich foods such as fruit to get your daily dose of Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps your body produce collagen which is vital for skin and tissue healing. Remember to keep the person with the burn properly hydrated with cool water and offer food that can cool them from inside out such as mint, hibiscus and watermelon. Do not force a person with nausea to eat until they are ready. Individuals heal at a variety rates. Listening is part of 1st aid.

Sue Sierralupe

Sue Sierralupé is a Certified Master Herbalist, Master Gardener and Sustainable Landscape Specialist. She is the clinic manager and lead herbalist at Occupy Medical clinic. Sue is author of The Pocket Herbal: Medicinal Plants that Changed the World and co-author of The Practical Herbalist Herbal Folios series. Follow her blog at Herbalism Manifesto for commentary on herbs, parenting, nutrition and a whole lot more.

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