For most of us, it’s easy to take medical care for granted. Access is only a drive or helicopter ride away. For now at least.
Those of us in the preparedness community know that we can’t always rely on modern infrastructure to fully function forever. At some point there are going to be disruptions, whether by force of nature, an attack from outside (or inside) enemies, or even a failing economy. Hospitals and doctors might not always be there when you need them. That’s why it’s SO incredibly important that we learn as much as we can about treating ourselves so that we aren’t in a state of panic when medical professionals are out of our reach. Even if our primitive techniques only buy us some time, those few precious minutes might be enough to save a life.
This will be an ongoing post; I’ll be adding more information as I gather it. But here are a few ways you can use herbs as medicine now or when modern medicine is unattainable.
1. Foot fungus can be dangerous.
Believe it or not, your foot health is extremely important. Itchy, scaly skin, and thick, discolored toenails are all signs of an infection and should be addressed accordingly. If left untreated, these seemingly small discomforts could turn into a much larger problem. Athletes foot and other fungal foot infections can progress into a secondary bacterial infection which could turn life-threatening if left to fester, so please take your foot health seriously and learn the foot fungus remedy that you can use. Fungal infections are extremely common, especially among military personnel, seaman, and other workers who are constantly wearing hot, sweaty boots. If you find yourself wearing tight shoes for long periods of time, make sure to give your feet a quick wash and some fresh air at least once a day.
2. Cayenne should be in your medicine cabinet.
Cayenne peppers are easy to grow pretty much anywhere… even in a pot on your front porch… so there’s no excuse for you not to have them. One plant will yield a decent amount of peppers to dry and store for later use. Be sure to wear gloves, eye protection, and a mask when you go to grind these suckers! Whoa baby they burn! (Side note: mustard, the condiment, is fantastic for relieving the burn from peppers, fyi.) These spicy little guys are known to have medicinal properties useful for a range of ailments ranging from heart attacks to colds. And it’s easy to grow cayenne peppers. They can even help stop bleeding in an emergency situation.
3. Boost your immune system with Elderberries.
The berries of the Sambucus (Elder) tree are rich with antioxidants. Studies have shown that elderberry extract can shorten the flu by three days. Right up there with rosehips, elderberries boast extremely high levels of vitamin C, important for fighting infections and staying well. They also exhibit anti-inflammatory properties, and can be used as a poultice or wash for wounds. The flowers can be soaked in oil and used as a lotion for skin ailments and burns.
4. Shepherd’s Purse will stop bleeding, fast!
Shepherd’s Purse is high in Vit. K, vegetable protein, potassium, calcium, beta-carotene and minerals. It has been used for centuries to stop bleeding internally and externally. For a quick field application, make a poultice by crushing up fresh or dried leaves to apply to a bleeding wound. An herbal tea can also be made to ease internal bleeding. Shepherd’s Purse tincture is often used by midwives to stop excessive bleeding after giving birth. (I actually took two droppersful of an alcohol tincture of Shepherd’s Purse after giving birth to help control the bleeding, per my midwife’s instructions, and can attest to its effectiveness.) Take it orally to treat internal bleeding. It’s also extremely effective for gushing nosebleeds.
5. Absorb poison from bites and stings with a common weed.
Some bites and stings can be so bad that you find yourself on the way to the emergency room after suffering from one. But what if you couldn’t get to the doctor or a hospital? Would you know what to do? Fortunately for you, the answer is probably growing right in your own backyard. Plantain, a common weed growing pretty much everywhere in the US, is dynamic for absorbing poison, swelling, and pain. I’ve used it for everything from bee stings to brown recluse spider bites with amazing results every time. A poultice of fresh leaves works best for field application, but you can also make an infused plantain leaf oil to last you through the winter months when the plants have gone dormant for the season.
6. Homegrown antibacterial bandages.
Wooly Lamb’s Ear, botanical name Stachys byzantina, is an amazing plant. It’s gorgeous in a flower bed, but more importantly it has been used for centuries as a wound dressing on battlefields. Not only do the soft, fuzzy leaves absorb blood and help it to clot more quickly, they also contain antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties. All of these factors make this plant a really great alternative to store-bought bandages. And it’s easy to learn how to grow your own antibacterial bandages. There are also several medicinal applications for making cold infusions and teas from Wooly Lamb’s Ear leaves which fight other types of infections.
7. Natural antibiotics for fighting infections.
Long before the advent of modern medicine, man has been using plants as medicine for healing infections and sicknesses. Although the knowledge of how to use plants as medicine is on the brink of extinction, the healing plants themselves are still growing abundantly in nature. It’s up to you to learn what plants can be used as natural antibiotics for infection and how to use them. In a SHTF situation, you’ll be glad you took the time to study up.
8. Helpful dysentery treatments.
Dysentery is an infection causing inflammation of the intestines and colon, brought about by bacteria, viruses, parasitic worms, and protozoa. It becomes predominate when hygiene is lacking in crowded living conditions, and is spread through contaminated water and person-to-person contact. Symptoms include frequent diarrhea with blood or mucus present, fever, abdominal pain, and a feeling of incomplete defecation. The basic treatment is rehydration, but there are certain herbs that can help speed up the recovery process.
I truly believe that Nature has the answer to every disease known to man, if only we’d take the time to learn her secrets. Start building your knowledge of medicinal plants and how to use them for common ailments, and be ready to take your health into your own hands when help cannot arrive.
9. How To Make Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal has so many applications. It often used by emergency personnel to treat acute poisoning, and is great for absorbing toxins. I’ve used to to treat everything from the stomach flu to a brown recluse spider bite. I’ve even read that it can stop an anaphylactic reaction from stings or severe food allergies (studies have shown activated charcoal will absorb peanut proteins and stop anaphylaxis). I actually carry a bottle of activated charcoal in my purse at all times. It’s definitely a must-have for your first aid kits.
Making activated charcoal at home is a little labor intensive, but I think it’s a skill worth having at least basic knowledge of just in case you can’t buy it.