Inevitably, families on holiday encounter small and large emergencies, and often don't have the health professionals on hand to help. Here's an A to Z of common emergencies plus simple remedies which can cure or alleviate the problem. Use this guide to pack an alternative first aid kit and carry it with you whenever you travel.
Aches and pains
If you travel to areas where no osteopaths or chiropractors are to be found, you can buy or hire a small electronic device which will get rid of many simple neck, back or muscle pains. Transcutaneous electrical neural stimulation (TENS) reduces or eliminates pains by bombarding nerve endings with weak, adjustable, high frequency electrical stimuli through adhesive electrodes placed on the skin. These appear to be received by the brain in place of the pain stimuli (Lewith GT, Horn S, Drug Free Pain Relief, Wellingborough, Northants: Thorsons, 1987: 18, 25, 56-61).
Although acute appendicitis is nearly always a surgical condition, appendicism is a symptomatic discomfort in the region of the appendix. The routine emergency treatment for this is Iris tenax 2 every two hours.
Apply Arnica montana tincture or oil to the area if the skin is unbroken. If the skin is broken, use a lotion of Hamamelis macrophylla (20 drops of tincture to 50 ml of distilled water). Also, take Arnica montana 3CH internally.
If you've bruised the bones, apply a lotion of Ruta graveolens (20 drops to 50 ml of distilled water) and take Ruta graveolens 3CH internally. For bruising of nerve rich areas like fingers, toes or spine, make up a lotion of equal parts of Hypericum perforatum tincture, alcohol fortis (95 per cent v/v alcohol) and distilled water, and rub it onto the injured area (if the spine) three times daily, or apply it onto cottonwool, then daub (if the extremities).
Burns and scalds (first degree)
Add 12 drops of Urtica urens to 50 ml of distilled water, or make up a lotion of Hamamelis macrophylla (20 drops to 50 ml of distilled water), then saturate a sterile gauze or dressing and place it over the burn. Moisten it again (in place) whenever it begins to dry out.
If you don't have this tincture to hand and you're out in the countryside, a lotion made by pouring boiling water onto freshly picked stinging nettles will do as well. Blisters should not be opened or drained.
Another possibility is to apply Echinacea angustifolia as a cleansing wash and then as a moist dressing.
Cold injuries and frostbite
Lie on your back. Initially, very gently rub the affected area with snow (forceful massage or compression is harm ful) and follow this by applying some room temperature (not icy) water to warm up slowly. This prevents your body from making vascular changes too suddenly, resulting in thickening of the blood. Only after you've taken this step should you move on to rapid rewarming using moist heat, keeping the water temperature like that of bath water (between 31-37 degrees C).
After rewarming, paint the affected part with Benzoin (Lindera). If frostbite occurs in the feet and hosiery is stuck to the affected limb, rub olive oil over the Benzoin tincture. The best next step is simply to expose the body part to air at room temperature (21-24 degrees C). Avoid using the affected part until the extent of any damage has been determined by a health professional.
Dysentery (with fever)
Stay in bed, keep warm and drink lots of water or fennel tea. If the condition is acute, take five to ten drops of Cuphea viscosissima; for a chronic condition, take ten drops of Vaccinum myrtillus every eight hours. As soon as you can, have yourself checked out for parasitic intestinal infection.
(including lightning stroke)
Make sure the current is switched off. If this is impossible, free the person from the source of the current while using an insulating material such as heavy duty insulating gloves, something made of wood or rubber, or even a folded newspaper. You can even use the victim's clothing, so long as it is absolutely dry and you don't touch his skin. If his breathing is failing or has stopped, begin resuscitation immediately.
Phosphorus 6CH is the homoeopathic drug of choice for the effects of lightning and electric shock.
The patient should be reassured and put to bed, avoiding any excitement and all stimulants. For external haemorrhages, apply pressure (20 minutes) and sterile cellulose alginate, a seaweed compound which is absorbed without causing local irritation (available from a pharmacy). Give Acalypha indica 6CH (or Achillea millefolium 3CH) and also possibly menadione (vitamin K3).
(persistent, severe and rapid)
The best homoeopathic remedy for hiccoughs that won't go away is 60 drops of Scutellaria lateriflora 3DH repeated every two hours, or a single dose of Moschus moschiferus lCH. Stramonium 6CH (Datura) is another possibility. If none of the above is to hand, one foolproof method is rebreathing using a paper bag. Another is to have the victim drink a glass of water while using the fingers to press down just in front of the tragus, the little flap of cartilage at the opening of the ear, on both sides of the head.
High blood pressure
To help lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressures, take Spartium scoparium lCH three times a day. For dangerously elevated blood pressure, try to find a qualified acupuncturist, as classical acupuncture procedures are known to reduce high blood pressure speedily.
Insect bites or stings
Apply tincture of Ledum palustre to the sting. If you don't have it on hand, you'll get equally quick results from tincture or cream of Arnica montana, Calendula officinalis or Urtica urens.
Supplement this by taking two 15 drop doses of Grindelia robusta 10 minutes apart. For extremely red inflammation with excessive sensibility to touch or pain, gently massage the area and take a single dose of Cantharis vesicator 30CH. For a sting on the tongue or in the mouth, take one tablespoonful (15 ml) of Calendula officinalis tincture, pour it into the mouth and keep it there for as long as possible. The mother tincture of Pyrethrum parthenium applied to the skin will relieve the discomfort and hot sensations produced by stings or bites. An added advantage is that it repels insects.
Rub on Acidum aceticum 1x to any affected areas.
Nausea and vomiting
Where no form of food is tolerated, the remedy of choice is 10 drops of Amygdalus persica or ucurbita pepo, or Zingiber officinale lx as an alternative. As soon as you can, investigate the possibility of parasitic infection if pregnancy or a hangover is not the obvious cause.
Take 20 drops of Echinacea angustifolia in bottled or mineral water every two hours. The tincture can also be used locally as a cleansing and antiseptic wash.
Sunstroke or heatstroke
Take Glonoinum 6CH every two hours until you get relief from the bursting, pulsating headache, which cannot bear motion. Also apply a solution of Calcarea chlorinata (one part to ten of
distilled water) to any sunburnt skin.
If you don't have that remedy to hand, a mixture of equal parts of freshly squeezed lemon juice and bottled or mineral water applied twice a day will minimize the ill effects. Stay in a cool, shady room. In severe cases, use whatever means are available to lower temperature, such as tepid sponging and constant vigorous massage of the extremities to promote circulation of the blood, which will cool the affected areas. The goal is to reduce rectal temperature (measured by a rectal thermometer) to 39 degrees C.
For lacerated wounds, apply a lotion of Calendula officinalis (20 drops to 50 ml of distilled water) locally. Also, take Calendula officinalis 3CH internally every two hours.
For incised wounds, apply a lotion of Hypericum perforatum (20 drops to 50 ml of distilled water) and take Hypericum perforatum 3CH internally every hour.
Finally, for puncture wounds, apply a lotion of Ledum palustre (20 drops to 50 ml of distilled water) locally and take Ledum palustre 6CH internally every hour.
Harald Gaier is a registered osteopath, naturopath and homoeopath.
(Copyright is retained by the author.)