Herbal First Aid Kit
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Turmeric: Natural First Aid Treatment for Inflammation, Pain, Fever and More

Herbal First Aid Kit: Treat Acute Injuries With Natural Medicine (Part 1)

Turmeric has been safely used as both food and medicine for over 5,000 years.
Turmeric: Natural First Aid Treatment for Inflammation, Pain, Fever and More
(Thanthima Lim/Shutterstock)
Sina McCullough
In this series, "Herbal First Aid Kit," we look at natural alternatives to modern first aid kits, which usually consist of medications made from synthetic chemicals. If you are looking for natural solutions for acute conditions, these herbs are safe, effective, and easily available.

What Is an Herbal First Aid Kit:

Instead of using man-made chemicals to address acute injuries or conditions, an herbal first aid kit utilizes herbs and spices i.e., God’s medicine.

What to Look for In an Herbal First Aid Kit:

While there are numerous herbs to choose from, an herbal first aid kit should contain remedies with the following qualities:
  • 100 percent natural
  • Effective at addressing most acute conditions, such as cuts, scrapes, bruises, burns, splinters, bee stings, fever, and pain
  • Easy to transport and administer
  • Long shelf-life
  • Negligible risk of overdose or negative side effects
In this series, I share the contents of my herbal first aid kit along with how to easily make and use these natural remedies.

Herbal First Aid Kit Remedy No. 1:


The number one remedy in my first aid kit is turmeric. I do not leave home without it.
Turmeric is a spice that comes from the rhizome of the Curcuma longa plant, which is a perennial in the ginger family. The most well-known active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which gives turmeric a yellowish color. Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal.
Turmeric has been safely used as both food and medicine for over 5,000 years.

Like our ancient ancestors, when I experience a headache, pain, swelling, or fever, instead of reaching for ibuprofen or acetaminophen (Tylenol®), I reach for turmeric.

While man-made drugs are commonly believed to be “more effective” than God’s medicine, scientific research suggests otherwise. For example, a study published in 2009, concluded that turmeric extracts “seem to be similarly efficacious and safe as ibuprofen for the treatment of knee OA [osteoarthritis].”
This finding was confirmed in 2014 when a second study concluded that turmeric is “as effective as ibuprofen” for the treatment of knee pain and joint stiffness. Importantly, turmeric supplementation resulted in significantly fewer side effects, including less abdominal pain/discomfort, compared with ibuprofen.
Additionally, ibuprofen can contain several “inactive ingredients” that I choose not to consume, such as corn starch, titanium dioxide, iron oxide yellow, iron oxide red, polysorbate 80, polyethylene glycol, and even “white ink.”
You can avoid those man-made chemicals and still experience relief from headaches, pain, swelling, and fever by making or purchasing turmeric remedies that contain whole ingredients.

When To Use Turmeric:

Turmeric has been shown through scientific studies to be useful for the following acute conditions:

Different Forms To Choose From:

While direct consumption of raw turmeric root is an effective remedy, the root is perishable, rendering it impractical for a first aid kit. Likewise, turmeric tea is an effective remedy; however, it requires warm water and time to steep, which is not ideal when a quick remedy is needed.

The best options for a first aid kit include turmeric tincture, poultice, and capsules (dry, powder form). I keep all three forms on hand.

For skin irritations, I prefer a turmeric poultice. For nearly all other conditions, I prefer a turmeric tincture in my first aid kit.  It is potent, easy to make, ready to dispense without any preparation, and easier to administer to my children who are uncomfortable swallowing capsules. In case I run out of tincture, turmeric capsules are my backup.

These remedies can be made in your kitchen or purchased pre-made. Below are my favorite recipes along with pre-made options for turmeric tincture, poultice, and capsules along with common dosages.

A Word on Turmeric Quality:

Not all turmeric is created equal. Some brands of dried turmeric reportedly contain elevated levels of heavy metals. Likewise, some brands of turmeric capsules reportedly contain elevated levels of bacteria and lead.
Consequently, when possible, I grow organic turmeric roots and make my own remedies. When purchasing, I prefer products that have been tested for heavy metals, glyphosate, and microbes and not radiated.

Turmeric Tincture

Tinctures used to intimidate me. I was afraid that if I made them incorrectly, mold would grow or the remedy would be too potent and my family would get sick. Consequently, when I began consuming turmeric tincture, it was purchased from a company I trust. A few months later, I wanted to order more, but the company was out of stock so I began making my own. I have never ordered it again because making this tincture is so cost-effective and so simple that even my kids can easily make it without my help.

My Turmeric Tincture Recipe:

Makes 24 ounces

1 cup organic fresh turmeric root, shredded

2 cups Ocean Vodka (80 proof)

1 teaspoon organic freshly ground black peppercorn


24-ounce wide mouth glass jar (for steeping)

12 2-ounce brown or blue glass bottles with eye droppers–to reduce light exposure (for storing tincture)

  1. Thoroughly wash and dry glass jar and glass bottles
  2. Gently wash turmeric root under filtered water and shred using a cheese grater or food processor. Place in jar.
  3. Add ground peppercorn to jar.
  4. Add alcohol to jar. Place lid on tightly. Gently shake.
  5. Allow to steep for 6 weeks away from light and heat; a cool cabinet works well. Gently shake every day.
  6. After 6 weeks, use a nut milk bag or cheesecloth to strain the mixture over a bowl. Squeeze the solids to release all the liquid.
  7. Store liquid in 2-ounce glass bottles.
  8. Dispense as needed using eye dropper.
Use as needed. Common dosage is 15 drops, but dosage varies per individual. Place under the tongue for one minute before swallowing.

Turmeric Poultice

Turmeric poultice can be applied directly on the skin for irritations, such as a bite or itching, or to relieve pain, inflammation and swelling. It is effective, but can temporarily stain the skin, as well as any surface it contacts.

My Turmeric Poultice Recipe:

  • To make a poultice using fresh turmeric root: If you have fresh turmeric root available, chew the root until it forms a slurry in your mouth, then apply it to the affected area and cover it with a bandage. Re-apply as needed.
  • To make a poultice using turmeric root powder: You can make turmeric root powder, but I purchase it from a company I trust. Dissolve the powder in warm water until it forms a thick Greek yogurt consistency.  Apply to the affected area then cover with a bandage. Re-apply as needed.

Turmeric Capsules

While the tincture is my preference, turmeric capsules are also included in my first aid kit. They provide a backup in the event I run out of tincture, and they are easier to carry on my person. Consequently, I bring capsules while on the move, such as when hiking or biking.
You can make turmeric capsules (recipe below) but the easiest option is to purchase them. I began consuming turmeric capsules by purchasing them from a company I trust. Over time, as my trust in myself grew, I ventured out and began making my own. Once again, I was pleasantly surprised that doing it myself was so easy, cost-effective, and empowering.
Whether purchasing or making turmeric capsules, I make sure they include black pepper, which has been reported to increase the absorption and bioavailability of curcumin.

My Turmeric Capsule Recipe:

2/3 cup organic turmeric root powder

2 teaspoons freshly ground organic black pepper

Size “00” vegan capsules


Glass dish


  1. Put on gloves to avoid staining your fingers.
  2. In glass dish, mix turmeric powder and black pepper until thoroughly combined.
  3. Open one capsule. Using the larger capsule segment, push the capsule down into the turmeric mixture to fill with powder. Repeat until the powder feels compact i.e., when no more powder can be pushed into the capsule.
  4. Slide on the shorter segment until secure.
  5. Store in glass jar away from heat and sunlight.
Use as needed. Common dosage is 1-2 capsules, but dosage varies per individual. According to the World Health Organization, the acceptable daily intake of curcuminoids as a food additive is up to 3 mg/kg, which is roughly equivalent to 1.36 milligrams turmeric per pound body weight. If possible, consume turmeric with fat.


Turmeric is a natural blood thinner, therefore; do not consume turmeric if suffering from a wound that involves blood loss.  Consult with a health care provider before consuming turmeric if you are taking a blood thinner or immunosuppressive drug, have gall bladder disease, diabetes, iron deficiency, blood-clotting disorders, gastroesophageal reflux disease, endometriosis, receiving chemotherapy, or if pregnant or nursing.
Next: Plantago major grows all over North America and often considered a “weed” even though it’s an essential herbal remedy.
CORRECTION: A previous version of article converted the daily dosage of curcuminoids from kilograms to pounds incorrectly. 
Sina McCullough is the creator of the online program "Go Wild: How I Reverse Chronic & Autoimmune Disease,” and author of “Hands Off My Food” and “Beyond Labels.” She has a doctorate in nutrition from the University of California–Davis. She is a master herbalist, Gluten Free Society certified practitioner, and a homeschool mom of three.