I made it with five pockets for 1 oz bottle sizes. Running the wilderness homeschool program along with having 2 children has sharpened my awareness of what really happens when you spend all day in the woods with a bunch of kids.
I'll say first that I would never replace or undermine the need to have the med-pack with you if you are seriously hitting the trails, leading a group, or overnighting. You've got to have your regular stuff, for safety's sake; and that is primarily what we have to use under the umbrella of an insured, public program. Gauze, rubber gloves, an epi-pen, and basic medical supplies are extremely practical to have. However, as an herbalist (as a human and a mom, really), I have the right to treat myself or my own children with herbal remedies as appropriate. It is also in the interest of sustainable living to know how to use simple, home made tinctures in the widest range of application possible.
I have reduced my immediate arsenal to 5, 1 oz bottles, to fit in my pouch and not add excess weight to my pack. Though there are close runners up that I will list later.
#1 - St. Johnswort Tincture (Hypericum perforatum)
This panacea is something I rarely leave the house without regardless of the occasion. It is one of my closest allies (as are each of these herbs I have chosen, actually) and indispensable as an anti-viral and anti-inflammatory. It is used both internally and externally.
This herb is contra-indicated if you are taking MAO inhibitors.
If you are on the trail and you or your child:
~Gets a virus
~Is too hot
~Pulls a muscle
~Is extremely sore
~Has sore feet or blisters
~Gets a bad bruise
~Has a headache
~Has a traumatic injury
~Gets burned and may have particles within the burn
~Acquires a minor cut or scrape
St. Johnswort is the remedy of choice. It can be used gently as a 'rescue remedy' or acutely as in injuries.
#2) Yarrow Tincture (Achillea millefolium)
Yarrow is renowned for it's ability to stop the bleeding of an acute injury or bloody situation. It also has tremendous capacity to modulate the blood and cool overheated conditions. Yarrow is also a powerful anti-viral. Yarrow's astringency and analgesic properties make it a definite for my top 5 in light of it's versatility. Take or apply Yarrow tincture if:
~You get a nosebleed
~You are bleeding from an acute injury
~There is chance of infection or bacteria
~You have punctured flesh
~You are having dental issues
~You fell and think you might need to go be checked for internal bleeding
~You are overheating
~You are hot but not sweating like normal even though you are hydrated
~You have external pain from a cut
~You have a fever
~You are coming down with a sore throat or virus
~You have poison ivy
~You have blisters (though sap works better)
~You have cut yourself or are wounded
#3 Wormwood tincture (Artemisia absinthe)
Wormwood, just as the name suggests, is a de-wormer. It's ability to dispel worms or other parasites is historic and earned. It is a powerful herb, so please use judicious dosages. I use 10 drops/half an hour in acute situations - approximately. Use common sense. Too high a dose can cause dizziness or nausea. In the case of food poisoning or water bacteria, you are probably already feeling that way. For the latter two issues, one can use wormwood as an initial treatment while waiting for help or going to the emergency room. In other words - don't be stupid if you need to get help, get it.
Wormwood is also valuable for topical applications, as you will see below
Take a little wormwood if you....
~Think you may have consumed contaminated water
~Have been bitten by a tick
~If you have a stomach ache or are nauseous
~Are eating wild meat and plants that you are not acclimated to
~Have gotten a lot of mosquito bites, apply externally too.
~Have poison ivy, apply externally
#4) Osha root tincture (Ligusticum porteri)
This precious plant root I use carefully. It is an at-risk plant and only grows in limited mountainous regions. This plant isn't local to me, I buy good root and tincture it at home and make it last. But it's priceless. If you are harvesting it yourself, please be conscious. Earth conscious, and also smart; it's an umbelliferae and to the untrained can be mistaken for deadly plants Water Hemlock or Poison Hemlock
Take osha root tincture if you:
~Have been stung by a bee or many bees.
~Have been bitten by a questionable beast; snake, spider, mouse, or venomous creature.
~Are having a strange allergic reaction; wild sneezing, mysterious rashes, hives or rashy inflammations
~Are having a hard time breathing
This can be a life saver - but again, an epi-pen is good to have in the pack just in case. It is nice if you don't have to use the epi-pen as your first response.
#5) St. Johnswort blossom infused OIL. (Hypericum perforatum)
On the trail, melted messy salves and chap sticks are a pain. I just leave it in it's concentrated liquid state and use it for virtually everything.
Apply St' Johnswort oil if you
~have a sunburn
~have chapped or dry skin
~have sore muscles, injured, or achy anything
~have trouble in 'tender' places
~need something to soothe small wounds on children without stinging it
~are bruised and it hurts
~have a herpes sore
So that pretty much covers most of what I see as likely applications. I've used these same versatile remedies, so reliably over time that my home apothecary has actually shrunk in it's variety of preparations.
But there are still runners up:
~Echinacea root tincture, for bites, stings, and general health insurance.
~Cayenne powder. This is what I grab first in the even of a bad puncture wound or cut. It staunches bleeding, kills bacteria, and numbs a good amount of pain.