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Natural First Aid Kit – Burning Man Edition

As one of my RMT friends prepares to embark on her yearly journey to Burning Man she asked if I could prepare a list of natural first aid supplies to support her during her time in the Nevada desert.  This is that list – supplies for general first aid, for digestive health, headaches and more.

What is Burning Man?

Once a year, tens of thousands of participants gather in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert to create Black Rock City, dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. They depart one week later, having left no trace whatsoever.  If you are interested in learning more about Burning Man, check out the website at

In addition to your conventional first aid supplies (bandages, alcohol, gauze, tweezers, etc.) I recommend bringing the following items to make your week in the desert easier and more enjoyable.

Bumps, Bruises and Blisters

Arnica 30C – a homeopathic remedy for all bumps and bruises.  Safe for all ages.  Speeds healing and decreases pain.

Arnica gel – a topical version of the arnica homeopathic.  Arnica has anti-inflammatory and circulation-stimulating properties.  Apply directly to sore muscles, sprains, strains, bumps and bruises to speed healing and decrease pain.  Do not apply to broken skin.

Witch hazel – apply witch hazel directly to a blister to dry it out, then cover with a bandage.  Once the blister is dry, apply calendula cream to speed healing.

Cuts and Scrapes

Calendula cream – calendula (Calendula officinalis) is marigold flowers.  An herb with astringent, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties.  Apply to cuts and scrapes (not to open wounds) to prevent infection and speed healing.  I recommend Weleda’s Calendula Diaper Care cream – a thick cream with a high calendula content.  Do not use if you have a ragweed allergy.

Hypericum 30C – a homeopathic remedy for deeper cuts with stinging nerve pain.  Use for puncture wounds, deep cuts or any time you have sharp shooting pain.

Tea tree oil – a broad spectrum antimicrobial that can be used as an antiseptic for cuts and scrapes as well as for acne, fungal infections, and athlete’s foot.  Can also be inhaled for sore throat (a common concern in the desert!)  Apply a 10% tea tree oil directly to wounds to prevent bacterial or fungal infections.  Apply a few drops to a handkerchief or bandana and inhale deeply two to three times per day to treat sore throat.  Do not take internally.


Aloe vera gel – cooling and healing, aloe vera gel soothes the inflammation of sunburn, speeds healing and decreases the severity of peeling after sunburn.  Of course, sunscreen should always be used while in the dessert and reapplied frequently.  Choose a safe sunscreen from

Glonoinum 30C – a homeopathic remedy for sunburn, sunstroke and headaches from sun exposure.

MediHoney Derma Cream – a medical grade honey for topical burns from fire hoops, fire dancing and other fires! Safe on all burns.  Available at


Ginger tea or ginger Altoids – best for nausea, motion sickness or indigestion.  Drink ginger tea hot or cold or suck on ginger Altoids for fast relief.

Peppermint tea, peppermint Altoids and Enteric Coated Peppermint Oil (ECPO) – peppermint is soothing to the digestive tract and is very effective at relieving gas pains or indigestion.  Use peppermint tea or peppermint Altoids for general indigestion or take ECPO to relief gas pains.

Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL) – used for heartburn.  Chew one or two tablets as needed or 20 minutes before meals.

Licorice tea – soothing for a sore throat – especially dry and scratchy sore throats.  Licorice tea contains mucilaginous compounds that soothe and heal the inflamed mucous membranes of the throat.

Nux vomica 30C – a homeopathic remedy for over-indulgence.  Take for nausea, vomiting, headaches or other symptoms of hangover.  Remember to remain well hydrated if you are indulging in alcohol or other recreational substances.

Milk thistle tea – milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is a plant best known for it’s liver supportive and detoxification properties.  Drink hot or cold to support your liver if you are planning on over-indulging during your time in the desert.

B vitamin complex – in addition to vitamin C, B vitamins are depleted by consuming alcohol and contribute to hangovers.  Take a B vitamin daily, with plenty of water.


Lavender oil – a multi-purpose essential oil, lavender is analgesic (decreases pain), anti-spasmodic, and mildly sedative.  For headaches, apply lavender essential oil to the temples and rub in gently.  Apply to sore muscles to relief muscle spasms.  Place a few drops on your pillow to fight insomnia.  Do not ingest.


Coconut water – dehydration and electrolyte loss are major concerns for anyone planning to spend a week in the hot Nevada desert.  In addition to drinking abundant water, coconut water contains a high concentration of potassium, minerals and antioxidants.  It is ‘isotonic’ – meaning it has the same level of electrolyte balance as we have in our bodies.  It is delicious and will rehydrate faster than water.

Emergen-C – an easily absorbed vitamin C supplement that can be added to water.  Provides 1g of vitamin C, electrolytes, 24 nutrients and 7 B-vitamins.  Comes in small, easy to carry packets.


Bach Rescue Remedy – you never know when anxiety, frustration, fear or other bad moods are going to strike.  Rescue Remedy is a blend of flower essences that calm the mind, ease stressful transitions (like the long lines to get into Burning Man), and provide relief from stress or emotional fatigue.

Chamomile tea – calms the mind and relaxes the body.  Drink hot or cold.  Safe for children.  Can also relieve indigestion.  Apply a warm chamomile tea bag over a bruise, black eye, insect bite or other irritation to soothe and decrease pain and swelling.


The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only.  It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider.  Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.


Lisa Watson

Dr. Lisa Watson is a Naturopathic Doctor practicing in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She is a passionate writer and speaker and encourages her patients and readers to embrace their full, amazing, health potential. You can follow Dr. Watson on twitter at @drlisawatson or contact her at

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