In mid-July a dog bit my hand. A friend brought a little Corgi to my house and tied him to lawn furniture. While we were inside it circled the chairs until the leash was tight around its neck. I heard it cry out and went to help him but it panicked and lashed out at my hand. As its teeth clamped down I heard my flesh rip with the crunching sound of cartoon bites.

My friend offered to drive me to the emergency room over a half hour away. Like many of us with high deductable health insurance and unpleasant memories of previous ER experiences, I thought twice. I remembered back to my previous first aid success almost two decades ago when I was a stable manager.

An Arabian colt in my care took a carefree gallop through a field and impaled its leg on a branch. Twice a day I smeared the pale blue antibiotic cream prescribed by the vet on the wound.  After a month it was healing poorly and I made the mental leap to trust my herbal knowledge instead. Abandoning the antibiotic cream, I mashed yarrow leaves and flowers into a paste and applied it to the cut. Within a short time the wound healed beautifully with barely a scar. The vet was impressed and the horse was kicking up its heels.

I remembered this experience as I tended my torn hand. I cleaned the gashes with warm soapy water and poured alcohol over them, my hands shaking. I applied a paste of fresh yarrow mixed with coconut oil and a few drops of Tea Tree oil.

Yarrow is famous for it’s antimicrobial strength. The Latin name, Achillea millefolium, comes from ancient days when the soldiers who fought for Achilles used this plant for battle wounds. It also has astringent and pain-killing properties. Coconut oil has fatty acids that are anti-fungal and anti-microbial, and Tea Tree oil is anti-bacterial.

This treatment reduced the pain and puffiness and prevented an infection. Later in the week air travel required an even easier solution and I simply opened up a capsule of Immunitone Plus by Designs for Health and mixed it with a store-bought anti-bacterial cream. I usually use Immunitone Plus internally to fight off colds and flus but the same herbs work well as a topical antibiotic too. Gradually the swelling went down and the wound closed. I regained full use of my hand and kept my medical expenses to about $30.

I feel proud and strong knowing I was able to take care of myself; however, if this happens to you and you are not sure how to proceed, please get professional care. There are serious risks if an injury gets infected. The father of a friend of mine was bitten by a dog last year and even though he went to the ER his hand got infected. Nerves were damaged and two fingers in his hand are now paralyzed because of the infection.

I recommend that you practice treating small injuries with simple herbal and home remedies so you can observe your body’s healing response. Instead of slapping on the store bought gel for superficial cuts, apply a mixture of coconut oil and tea tree oil. Use your herbal cold/flu remedies topically. Find yarrow in your garden, or other anti-microbial plants, mash them into a paste and apply. Watch for redness, swelling, pain that lasts for more than a couple days. Ask a health practitioner to check the wound for you if you have any doubts about infection.

Practicing home care, even in small ways, builds your confidence so that when bigger things happen you know what to do. Check your first aid kit today. What would you use if you cut yourself?