It's most important to clean wounds promptly with soap and water to prevent infections. The healing process can then be accelerated and the potential for infection can be reduced by using herbal remedies.

Herbal Remedies for Cuts

Herbs for treating cuts, scratches, and abrasions include those that help fight infectious microbes, decrease inflammation, soothe the pain, and help the wound to heal.

Garlic juice applied to infected wounds hastens healing. The allicin in garlic has been shown to be as effective as a one percent penicillin solution. However, it may cause damage to the skin, so be cautious. Lavender, scented geranium, and rosemary are good antiseptics, too. Use diluted tinctures or diluted essential oils.

Calendula's strong infusion also makes an effective compress. Chamomile flower infusion will reduce swelling and prevent infection. A poultice of marshmallow will help shallow cuts heal. Since it can promote the growth of microbes, only leave it on for up to 30 minutes.

Herbal teas made of echinacea, wormwood, Oregon grape, and goldenseal, when applied topically to the cut or abrasion, help prevent infection. Juniper leaves and berries have been used externally for generations to treat infections and wounds while yarrow has been traditionally used for cleaning wounds and helping blood clot faster in cuts. Witch hazel and cayenne pepper also stop bleeding and promote healing. A compress of St. John's wort will work on deeper cuts.

If cuts are very deep or gaping or if there is any risk of tetanus (when wounds are caused by any object contaminated with soil), get medical attention. Do not treat large open wounds with herbs.

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Eric Yarnell, N.D., R.H. (A.H.G.) is a naturopathic physician and registered herbalist in private practice specializing in men's health and urology.  He is an assistant professor in the botanical medicine department at Bastyr University in Seattle and is president or the Botanical Medicine Academy.  He is the author of several textbooks including Naturopathic Gastroenterology, Naturopathic Urology and Men's Health, and Clinical Botanical Medicine; He writes a regular column on herbal medicine for Alternative and Complementary Therapies. This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies.   Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. Each state and each discipline has its own rules about whether practitioners are required to be professionally licensed. If you plan to visit a practitioner, it is recommended that you choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who abides by the organization's standards. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before starting any new therapeutic technique.