So Matthew, my 15 year-old, just called from a hiking/caving trip and asked what he could do to make the arch of his foot stop hurting. No serious injury, just lots of pain. First question was whether or not he had his “EmHERBency” kit in his pack, which, of course he did not. Next was whether or not he at least had a bottle of tei-fu in his pocket, which, of course, he also did not. (Info on both items is on my website.) Both are only on the mother-says-must-pack items list, which, also, of course, means they are usually not. I asked if he was close enough to civilization for his leaders to get to a drug store, in which case I would have told him to get some epsom salts, drink a teaspoon or so every couple of hours to get his magnesium up so the cramping would go down, soak a sock in hot water mixed with the salts and wrap his foot; again, of course, the answer was “no”.
So off to work with what he had, which is why I’m writing my book on home-made health care.
I knew he could definitely get some hot sauce, which at least would get the circulation going and add some vitamin C, zinc, and minerals (from the vinegar) into the muscles. Directly on the skin it could cause an actual burn or blistering, so I told him to coat the area first with some molasses or honey (ideally) or any kind of syrup he could get to prevent the burn. All mucilants can do that, but the first two would also add some extra minerals, which are critical for muscle function. It’s almost dark, but I told him to look around for some plantain leaves to put on the area as a poultice over the other stuff, and if not to see if there was any parsley or spinach in the camp kitchen he could use instead. Herbs aren’t just things you buy in bottles and take in capsule form! I told him to cover the whole area with a sock soaked in hot water and massage his foot starting between the toes and working the whole way up to draining the lymph behind his knee to keep everything open. Swelling goes down and circulation stays up when you do that, which is essential for healing anything in the body.
The greatest thing about my lifestyle is knowing there is ALWAYS something we can do to feel better! Not always something you can do about packing lists……