Armenian Ancestral First-Aid Kit

Written by Palig

07 May 2024

The conversations our ancestors had with the land were cut short. Discovering and revitalizing their traditional medicinal practices, anchored by their reverence for herbs and their approach to natural materials is active remembrance. The source for the following piece was one that I discovered at the Boston Antiquarian Book Fair this past fall. It was the last place I thought I’d find something so meaningful to this work. Տանու Բճիշկ (Home Doctor) written by Garabed Kochariantz in 1863 has distinct chapters for internal illnesses, children’s ailments, reproductive health and external illnesses. Within each chapter, he explains the common symptoms and then prescribes different herbal and natural remedies to alleviate them. Using these remedies, I constructed this ‘Ancestral First Aid Kit’ to integrate the knowledge and build an accessible tool with the intentions of reclamation, healing and preservation. 

Source the following kit materials:


❖ Muslin tea bags or cloth
❖ Raw cotton fiber


❖ Cloves (ground)
❖ Flaxseed (ground)
❖ Barley (ground)
❖ Mustard
❖ Flour
❖ Rhassoul Clay (if Armenian Bole cannot be found)

Dried Plants

❖ Juniper Leaves
❖ Mint
❖ Mallow
❖ Plantain leaf
❖ Chamomile
❖ Elderberry

Roots and Resins

❖ Chicory
❖ Burdock
❖ Mastic resin
❖ Edible camphor

Common Pantry Items

❖ Vinegar
❖ Brandy
❖ Beeswax 
❖ Honey
❖ Eggs
❖ Olive Oil
❖ Yogurt
❖ Tahn
❖ Peach butter
❖ Garlic
❖ Salt

Use these kit remedies:

Fresh wounds

Typically inflicted by a sword or sharp edge, the afflicted can endure severe pain that comes and goes while the wound can redden and swell.
Materials needed: Cotton fiber, muslin cloth, olive oil, flaxseed oil, mastic resin, beeswax, eggs, honey

Remedy 1: Cover the wound with cotton fiber and wrap with a muslin cloth to apply compression and stop the bleeding. Remove the covering after a few hours and wash with warm water.

Remedy 2: Cover your fingers with olive or flaxseed oil and coat the wound, making sure it is clean of debris. Take 6 teaspoons each of ground mastic resin and yellow beeswax, and mix with 2 tablespoons of olive oil over low heat. Once melted, apply to a muslin cloth and dress the wound.

Remedy 3: Take 1 egg yolk, 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and honey and apply to stripped cloth or crumbled cotton fiber and apply to the sides of the wound. As pus may form, remove dressings and wash before reapplying until pus turns white. At that point, seal the wound with clean cotton and allow it to heal.

This can present along with wounds, bruises and infected areas.
Materials needed: Cotton fiber, muslin cloth, vinegar and brandy, camphor

Remedy 1: Mix equal parts brandy and vinegar and soak three palm-sized cotton pieces and apply to the afflicted area.

Remedy 2: Mix 8 teaspoons of clay with ½ teaspoon of grated camphor, add enough water to create a paste and apply to the swollen area. 

Infected wounds 

This can be identified by discolored pus flowing from the wound that can smell putrid. The infection must be addressed both internally and topically.
Materials needed: Juniper leaves, burdock root, chicory root, barley, flour

Remedy 1: Add 8 teaspoons of dried juniper leaves, burdock root and chicory root to a kettle with 10 cups of water. Cook until reduced to half its original volume and drink 1 cup, 4 times a day.

Remedy 2: Mix ground barley and flour in equal parts with warm water to create a paste like consistency and apply to a cloth and dress the wound.


Treatment depends on the severity of the burn.
Materials needed: Yogurt, tahn, olive oil, flaxseed oil, peach butter

Remedy 1: First-degree burns must be dressed with a muslin cloth soaked in yogurt or tahn.

Remedy 2: Second-degree burns should first be massaged with olive or flaxseed oil frequently and then covered with peach butter.

Bites and Stings

From bees and flies, to scorpions. These remedies cover bites that are swollen and red and bring the afflicted discomfort. 

Materials needed: olive oil, garlic, salt

Remedy: Rub the bite with olive oil and drink three tablespoons of it as well. Then crush a clove of garlic and mix it with salt. Spread onto a cloth and dress the bite with it.

Tooth Pain

This can be caused due to damage or a buildup of mucus and inflammation.

Materials needed: Camphor, chamomile, elderberry, tarragon root, chicory root, cloves, red clay, dried mint

Remedy 1:  Mix equal parts dried chamomile and elderberry with a pinch of grated camphor. Add enough warm water to the materials for them to bond and apply with a cloth on the cheek with the painful tooth.

Remedy 2:  Gargle with elderberry and chamomile tea.

Remedy 3: ¼ teaspoon of tarragon root can be cut up and placed on top of the painful tooth as an alternative.

Remedy 4: Mix 1 tablespoon chicory root with 1 teaspoon of ground clove and rub onto teeth. Leave for 15 minutes and then rinse off.

Remedy 5: Mix ¼ cup of red clay with 1 tablespoon of dried mint and cloves each, add hot water and rinse your mouth.

Eye pain

This can present with excessive tearing, inflammation along with headaches and trembling. Sometimes it is caused by debris in the eye or by external conditions. 

Materials needed: Rose water, vinegar, egg whites

Remedy 1: To address inflamed or painful eyes, soak a cloth in cold water or rose water and place it on top of the eyes.

Remedy 2: Alternatively, whisk two egg whites in a bowl until fluffy, place onto a cloth and apply to the eye.

Ear pain

This can present quite suddenly and increase to an unbearable amount of pain. 

Materials needed: Flaxseed, mallow, chamomile, milk, camphor

Remedy 1: Mix 1 handful of ground flaxseed and ground mallow each with 2 cups of milk (or alternative), cook until volume reduces to a condensed mixture. Rub this poultice on cloth and place it on your ear.

Remedy 2: Heat 1 handful of chamomile in 2 cups of milk (or alternative) over medium heat until warm. Pour into a cask with a narrow spout and place so that the steam is funneled into the ear.

Remedy 3: Use ¼ teaspoon of camphor granted into 1 teaspoon of bitter almond oil (or olive oil) and using a dropper, place a few drops into your ear.

Palig is an amateur armenian herbalist using primary armenian sources from the 15th, 19th and 20th century to revitalize and reclaim lost ancestral traditions. She started armmad in 2021 as a collection of balms and salves informed by these practices. Since then, she has worked on translating these sources into short-form pieces to help proliferate their customs.