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Publix GreenWise Market Magazine
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Publix GreenWise Market Magazine - July 2007

Natural First Aid
Stock your home medicine cabinet with simple remedies.

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GingerYour refrigerator is filled with organic apples and spinach. Your laundry detergent is phosphate-free. Even the toilet paper in your bathroom is made from 100 percent recycled paper. It's time to put a green stamp on your home first aid kit with a natural makeover.

"Kitchen medicine" has a place in soothing everyday ailments, says Brigitte Mars. Although she doesn't advocate throwing out all over-the-counter remedies you might have stocked in your cabinet, the herbalist and author of Natural First Aid (Storey Publishing, 1999) asserts that "we have all kinds of remedies inside our homes. Very often we have something on our shelves that we can use - products that were used as folk remedies long ago."

While your physician should always tend to serious injuries, many of the common cuts and ailments that children and parents experience can be effectively treated at home. Here are some natural remedies you'll want to keep on hand in your kitchen. Many are available at your neighborhood Publix.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Mars suggests adding a teaspoon to a tall glass of cool water as an easy remedy for heat exhaustion. Much like a sports drink, the vinegar helps replace electrolytes and minerals.
  • Baking soda: Mix a small amount of baking soda with water to form a soothing paste that can be applied to sunburn, stings, and poison ivy.
  • Echinacea: lthough studies have not proven this herb shortens the duration of colds and flu, it's the first thing Mars takes when she gets the sniffles or flu-related symptoms. Mars and others believe that echinacea helps stimulate the immune system, which helps fight infection.
  • Ginger: Got an upset tummy? Ginger, a natural antibiotic, should be on your first aid shelf. Mars says you can chew on a slice of fresh ginger or take it in supplement form to help combat nausea or digestive cramping. Note: Children under age 2 should not take ginger.
  • Honey: It's the traveler's remedy, Mars says, for an unwelcome case of diarrhea. Mix several teaspoons of honey into eight ounces of water for rehydration. Safety note: Never feed honey to infants under age 1.
  • Lavender essential oil: Mars calls this versatile essential oil "a first aid kit in a bottle." It's a great antiseptic to treat a small cut or scratch and can take the sting out of bug bites. World War I medics even used it to treat gangrenous wounds, Mars says. The oil can be applied undiluted to the skin.
It's reassuring to have effective remedies on hand for minor first aid needs, but it also pays to be prepared for more serious accidents. Read a book on first aid or take a class to learn the basics before you're called on to treat a problem. "When you're panicked, it can be frightening, so have presence of mind and be alert and aware," Mars says.
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