Two Essentials to Add to Your First Aid Kit

Though I hope you’ll never need either of these essentials, there are two items, ones which you may never have heard of, I believe every first aid kit should be stocked with: activated charcoal and yunnan baiyo.  Between various cuts, upset stomachs, and hangovers, activated charcoal and yunnan baiyo have saved the day for my family upon several occasions. Here is what you need to know:

 

Activated Charcoal

I always keep capsules of activated charcoal at home for emergencies.  There have been a couple times (like the time I got food poisoning or that time my dog ate a poisonous bougainvillea flower) when I used activated charcoal to quickly remedy the problem. Activated charcoal has been used by emergency trauma centers worldwide. It works by trapping toxins or poison in its millions of pores through the entire length of the stomach and small and large intestines preventing them from being reabsorbed by the body by flushing them out. In fact, it is estimated activated charcoal can reduce absorption of poisonous substances by up to 60%.  It’s inexpensive, odorless, and tasteless, and absolutely should not be confused with BBQ charcoal!  You should be able to find it at most health food stores or even some health-conscious grocery stores in the supplement section or online.  Drink lots of water throughout the day when you take it, as it can dehydrate the body if plenty of water isn’t consumed.Activated-Charcoal-Cap.jpg

Top 10 Activated Charcoal Uses

Emergency Toxin Removal

 

Hopefully, you or your loved ones will never ingest something poisonous, but it can happen. As mentioned above, I’ve used activated charcoal when I got food poisoning. Activated charcoal binds with most organic compounds, pesticides, mercury, fertilizers or bleach. It is also used by medics to combat accidental or purposeful overdose of drugs.  Take the activated charcoal as soon as possible in these situations, definitely within an hour of ingestion. Call 911 in the event of an emergency as proper dosing is imperative. Remember to drink plenty of water in conjunction with taking the charcoal.

Alleviates Gas and Bloating

Feeling gassy or uncomfortable from a meal?  Try taking activated charcoal, which binds any gas-causing byproducts in food that cause discomfort. Take activated charcoal before your meal if you know you’re going to eat something likely to cause gas or bloating.

Treats Alcohol Poisoning and Can Prevent Hangovers

While activated charcoal does not absorb alcohol, most alcohol is not consumed in its pure form.  It’s often mixed with chemical fillers or artificial sweeteners.  Activated charcoal will work to remove these toxins that contribute to poisoning in the body.  Some studies have also shown it can greatly reduce blood alcohol concentrations.

Mold Cleansing

Toxic mold can grow in our bodies even without us knowing it.  Flooding, leaks or poor ventilation in the home (especially in rooms like the bathroom, laundry room, or basements) allow mold to thrive. As a result, mold can live in the body and can cause people to suffer from depression, decreased brain function, heart disease, liver or kidney dysfunction, impaired immune system function, severe respiratory issues, headaches, irritated eyes, or vomiting.  While some mold is clearly visible, some mold is not, and can be tested by a professional if your family is experiencing symptoms like wheezing, watery eyes, rashes, coughing, or headaches that can’t be explained in other ways. (Source: Chronic Fatigue and Nutrition, Dr. Axe )

Water Purifying

Whenever I’m traveling somewhere I know I won’t have access to clean, purified water, I always carry activated charcoal sticks. You can put these sticks in water to trap any solvents, pesticides, industrial waste, or other chemicals without changing the taste of the water.  Drinking plenty of water is incredibly important, but make sure you’re drinking clean water.  Even our typical tap water is toxic and contains plenty of chemicals, fluoride, and toxins (source: Dr. Axe, PublicIntegrity.org).   Look for activated charcoal filters to purify the water throughout your home or even countertop models.

Whitens Teeth

Looking for an inexpensive, quick way to get pearly white teeth?  Just dip your wet toothbrush in activated charcoal powder and brush your teeth with it a few times a week to reduce stains and improve the pH balance in the mouth.  It will also absorb plaque and help prevent cavities, bad breath, and gum disease. When brushing with activated charcoal, I like to put paper towels down around the sink, as the powder will stain clothes and grout. Brush your teeth with it, sip and swish some water, then spit and rinse out your mouth until your spit is clear again. No need to brush with toothpaste after.  Continue this practice a few times a week for best results.  That being said, if you have porcelain veneers, caps, or crowns, activated charcoal can cause staining. (Source: Wellness Mama)

 

Yunnan Baiyo

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In traditional Chinese medicine, yunnan baiyo has been used for centuries to stop bleeding externally or internally.  Interestingly, this medicine was a staple of every Chinese soldier’s first aid kit and was later used extensively during the Vietnamese War due to its incredible effectiveness in treating battlefield injuries (Source).  Its reputation is equal to that of penicillin in the US.  I don’t know all the ingredients, but it is said the main ingredients are two types of ginseng and several members of the yam family (Source: IVC Journal).

Yunnan baiyo can be taken orally or topically, depending on what you need it for.  For external cuts, I just mix some powder with a tiny bit of water or saliva to make a paste which I apply directly to the cut.  You will be amazed by the swiftness which it works. The powder is even used by many veterinarians (I actually first learned of this medicine when my dog had a bad cut). Some people, however, can be allergic. I recommend consulting a professional before using it so you can get familiar with dosages. Pick up yunnan baiyo from your local Chinese herbalist or order it online.

 

Looking for more tips to lead a holistic lifestyle?  Check out more of my blog posts or shoot me a message on my website.

Face Mapping: Let Your Skin Be Your Guide to Health

Our skin is a reflection of our inner body’s health, according to Ayurvedic tradition.  Ayurveda, “the science of life,” is a 5000-year-old form of natural healing started in India that focuses largely on maintaining balance. By looking specifically at the face, you are able to learn a lot about what might be going on inside of your body, and what might be out of balance in your life.
Face Mapping

1. Forehead

Possibly means: gallbladder and liver issues

The forehead, according to Ayurvedic practices, relates to the nervous system and digestive system.  This means that stress and internal stagnation could be the cause of the breakout here.  Find ways to reduce stress, like yoga or meditation, and reduce the amount of processed foods and unhealthy fats in your diet.

2. Left Eyebrow

Possibly means: repressing emotions in the spleen.

If you have a line on the left side, this could mean you have emotions pent up in the spleen.

3. Right Eyebrow

Possibly means: repressing emotions in the liver.

Cut out the alcohol, processed foods, and sugar.  Drink more water and add lemon to your water to rid the liver of toxins.  Get plenty of sleep and get in light exercise.

4 & 5. Eyes

Possibly means: impaired kidney function, dehydration

The skin around the eyes is typically connected to the health of the kidneys,  Signs like dark circles under the eyes often signals dehydration.  Small irises can tell you that you may have joint problems. If you have a yellowish color in the eyes, then this may be an indication of a weak liver.

6. Cheek

Possibly means: slow metabolism, low absorption of nutrients, lung issues.

The upper cheeks are related to the lungs.  Air pollution can contribute to this, or pressing your face up against a cell phone or dirty pillowcase. The lower cheeks typically mean problems with dental hygiene.

7. Nose

Possibly means: blood and heart issues.

Your nose is connected to your heart.  Swelling of the nose can mean high blood pressure.  Eat well to remedy this. Cut out sugar and processed foods, reduce spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol, lower salt intake, and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

8. Lower Lip

Possibly means: intestines, digestion.

The lower lip is linked to the intestines.  Cut back on dairy products and oily meals and eat a diet consisting of lots of fruits and vegetables to keep digestion running smoothly and prevent blemishes.

9. Tongue

Possibly means: toxin buildup, lung issues.

We can learn a lot about our health by looking at the tongue.  White residue on the back of the tongue could mean it’s time for a detox, since this signals a buildup of toxins.  Abrasions or frothiness along the edges of the tongue could mean issues with the lungs, so implement regular aerobic exercise and meditation.  Uneven or ridged outer edges of the tongue often means that nutrients aren’t being absorbed properly into the blood stream.  Implement a diet of whole foods high in vitamins, iron, and folic acid, and steer clear of processed foods.

10. Chin

Possibly means: hormonal imbalance.

Stress and hormonal imbalances can be seen on the chin.  Expect to breakout around your menstrual cycle.  Get plenty of sleep, reduce stress, drink plenty of water, and eat lots of vegetables, especially the leafy green ones.

What’s the lesson here for perfect skin?  Drink lots of water, get plenty of sleep, eat whole foods, especially lots of vitamin-rich vegetables, make time for meditation or stress-relieving activities, and exercise.

Sources: MindBodyGreen, Into The Gloss