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For several years I have been involved with a group of herbalists providing herbal first aid and acute medicine services at some of the summer festivals, including Glastonbury and The Big Green Gathering. The group was started by friend and experienced herbalist Dedj Leibbrandt and operates out of a converted caravan. A geodesic dome and a large tent combine to provide a consultation and treatment/observation area, a chill out and rest area where patients and the public can drink a selection of herb tea blends (we usually concoct various combinations on the spur of the moment!) and a catering area where we are all fed and watered after a hard day’s work. The caravan’s well stocked dispensary has a comprehensive selection of herbal tinctures (some of which are pre-formulated mixes), some dried herbs, essential oils, infused oils and creams. We also carry a selection of wound dressings, latex gloves, Mefix tape for securing dressings, bottles for dispensing the herbs into, and various other bits and pieces which come in handy.

Herbal first aid and acute medicine are an entirely different ball game to working in a clinic, where the vast majority of the patients have chronic, long standing illnesses. With herbal first aid, you get to deal with all those gory and gruesome things like wounds, burns and abscesses that you don’t tend to see in clinics! But once you get your head around the difference in therapeutic approach, herbal first aid is quite easy – what you see is what you treat. If someone has burnt themselves, for instance, you don’t need to know years of background to their complaint, minute details of their diet, or their family history. Once some basic information has been collected, all you do is treat the burn.

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