How To Find The Best Natural Medicines
It’s pretty clear that if we humans end up in a survival situation, doctors’ offices and prescription meds might not be there to save the day. Learning how to create medicine with plants can help keep you healthy, even under extreme circumstances. Keep reading to find out how your garden (and even the wilderness) can be your own survival haven.
Why Understand Natural Medicine?
It may seem silly to fret over plant medicine when there are so many man-made resources at our fingertips. However, preparedness is important, including staying healthy with minimal resources. Not to mention, learning natural healing techniques now can cut medical costs significantly.
With that being said, always consult your doc or take those prescriptions when they’re available. As incredible as natural medicine can be, some plants cause illness, irritation, or even death. Those looking to survive off plants must have a deep knowledge of wilderness life in order to stay safe.
Learning to Use Medicinal Plants and Herbs
Sure, some plants are great when eaten fresh or rubbed right on the skin, but we’re trying to make medicine here. In order to utilize the plant’s benefits, most survivalists prefer combining plant material with other ingredients. There are several ways to turn your plants into medicine with survival equipment, including:
- Essential oils
1. Soothing Salves
Creating a salve is one of the easiest and most effective ways of using medicinal plants for survival. It’s a medical ointment used to soothe the surface of the body. DIY salve will require a two-step process.
First, you’ll need to infuse your preferred plant into an oil. The infused oil is then mixed with other ingredients to make a salve treatment. Coconut oil is particularly good for this process, as it is proven to help heal wounds naturally, as well as be antiviral, antimicrobial, and antibacterial.
When infusing your plants, you’ll need about ½ to 2/3 cup of dried medicinal plants. If you’re using fresh ones, add some more (about ¾ cup). Keep in mind, though, that fresh plants are only favorable for certain extraction methods.
Beeswax and honey are next on the salve ingredient list. They will both help to heal wounds naturally and fight infections. Honey, in particular, can release hydrogen peroxide which kills bacteria.
The properties of your medicinal plants will dissolve in oil. Therefore, the first step to making a salve is getting those natural healers infused. Your method of infusing will depend on the amount of time on your hands.
Got lots of time on your hands? The cold infusion method requires covering dried plants with oil in a jar, ensuring each piece is coated. Cover the jar and allow them to seep for at least four weeks.
Keep in mind that for the cold infusion method, only dried plants will work. Fresh ones will start going rancid. The last thing you want is to infect yourself using medicine!
Next is the hot oil extraction method: start by dried plants and oil in a jar. Seal it and transfer to a crockpot with a few inches of water on the lowest setting. Let the jar heat for about four to six hours, watching out so the water doesn’t evaporate.
In the oven extraction method, dried herbs are placed in a non-aluminum oven-safe dish. Cover the dish with coconut oil before baking at a low temperature for three hours. Then, remove it from the oven, letting it sit for three more hours.
In a survival situation, medication might be necessary immediately. With the fast extraction method, place dried or fresh plants and oil in a jar. Seal the jar, place it in a double boiler, and let it heat at a low temperature for about an hour.
Now that your oil is infused, it’s time to strain. Strain your infusion through a cheesecloth, capturing the oil in a clean jar. Be sure to squeeze out as much plant extract as possible – we want all that healing goodness!
Finally, you’re ready to make the salve. On a very low heat, melt your infused oil, beeswax, and honey, stirring the ingredients together. Upon removing the salve from heat, you’ll find it hardens.
Getting the consistency just right might take some trial and error on your first few tries. Pro tip: salve that’s too soft probably just needs more beeswax. Once the texture is to your liking, pour it into a clean container and let it cool before using.
So, what can your salve be used for? It’s wonderful for natural wound care because it covers the injury with a protective layer. That layer keeps the wound moist (and helps reduce scarring), plus prevents bacteria from entering all while healing the problem area with herbs for survival.
2. Resourcing Resin
Resin might not get as much hype as tinctures and oils, but they’re certainly just as effective. They are incredibly helpful in wound care for large areas which need to be sealed off. Considering resin is a tree’s natural way of staying protected from infection, it’s no surprise we can reap the benefits, too.
Typically, the resin from spruce, pine, and other coniferous trees are mixed with butter or animal fat to make a salve. However, they can be used on their own. When creating one DIY style, start by blending your medicinal plants.
You only want to blend the plants for a few seconds before starting to cook. Place your leaves in a large pot, adding just enough water to cover the plant. After cooking on a low temperature (below boiling point) for about 30 minutes, the water should turn a dark green or brown color.
Once it’s cooked, strain your cooked mixture through a large cheesecloth and collect the liquid in a clean pot. You’ll have to begin cooking at a lower temperature again, but this time, the water will evaporate. Doomsday preppers know their resin is ready when the texture feels thick and sticky.
3. Emergency Essential Oils
Survivalist aren’t the only ones hopping onto the essential oil bandwagon. Many love their aroma, stress-relieving qualities, and healing purposes. There are lots of tutorials for creating your own, and they should certainly be included when building a first aid kit for survival.
Infused oils are made by soaking medicinal plants in oil, like we just learned. On the other hand, essential oils need to be steam distilled. Making essential oils at home can be a challenge, so pick some up if you can (don’t worry, we’ll still show you how to make them).
Essential oil making starts with filling a crockpot with your plant material and some water. Put the lid on upside down so any steam can condense and fall back down into the pot. Those with missing crockpot lids can use plates instead.
Once your concave lid is set up, turn the crockpot on high to heat the water. When the water gets nice and steamy, turn it on a low setting for another three or four hours. After all that plant material has cooked down, turn off the crockpot and allow it to cool.
When your oil finally feels cool, place it in the refrigerator overnight. Pull the crockpot out and look for a hard, thin film of oil. Carefully lift that oil off the water (but work fast – it melts quick).
Finally, place all that essential goodness into a bottle with a cap. Store it in a colored glass container away from light and heat. Whether you’re saving them for survival or using ‘em up at home, natural essential oils will be your new favorite healer.
4. Therapeutic Tinctures
While salves and resin might be reserved to outside the body, some plant medicine can be ingested for greater effects. A tincture is some form of plant material dissolved in ethanol. To create it at home, you’ll need vodka (or other alcohol at least 80 proof), 190-proof natural cane spirits, propylene glycol, and vegetable glycerin.
If you’re using fresh plants, chop them up in the blender before placing them in a jar. Then add the solvent of your choice, seal the jar, and give it a good shake. Ideally, your tincture should then steep for at least a week in a dark, dry, cool place.
Depending on the plant you’re using, some recommend steeping for six weeks or even longer. On the flip side, some can steep for just three minutes. Let’s use the general rule that more time is always better if you have it.
After you’ve steeped for a few weeks (or minutes), strain the alcohol-herb mix through cheesecloth. Contain the liquid in a clear jar and voila – there’s your tincture! Be sure to keep it safe in a cool, dark location so it stays good.
Treating Stomach Issues Naturally
In a survival scenario where hygiene is poor and clean water isn’t readily available, you can almost guarantee stomach issues like diarrhea. Healing is essential because if you don’t, these rampant problems can dehydrate and immobilize you. Now that you know the most common methods of making medicine from plants, let’s go over what issues you may face and the plants that’ll fight them.
Lambs quarters is an edible plant that stomach problem sufferers will adore. It’s considered a weed and can be found all over North America, including urban environments. You can eat it raw, as it’s delicious and nutritious, but using it in tea would be best for sickness.
Blackberry leaves are another stomach savior. When suffering from diarrhea, steep the leaves into boiling water for about five to ten minutes. Make sure you have over two ounces of leaves per cup of water, and drink immediately in your home with garden.
Plant Medicine for Skin Issues
Rashes, bug bites, itchiness, and skin irritation is basically inevitable for those trekking around, enduring wilderness survival in dirty clothes. But don’t worry – survival situations don’t have to totally squash your skincare routine. This may seem obvious, but for skin issues, a topical treatment works best.
Lovely lavender will bless your nostrils as it works to reduce itching and swelling. Simply crush up some leaves and apply them to the infected area. If you have some extra time, lavender would also be amazing in a salve.
Burdock is a natural saving grace for those with acne. In more extreme cases, it can also help treat eczema and rashes. The ideal way to use it is making a tincture of the dried root in alcohol. Then, consume about 15 tincture drops, or eat the boiled roots and leaves on their own.
Plantain weeds are another strong skin healer (and to be clear, we’re not talking about bananas’ twin). Find their leaves in fields across America, crush them into a paste, and apply them to stings and bug bites. The plant can actually neutralize venom, making it marvelous for bee, wasp, and scorpion related injuries.
Treating Wounds with Plants
For extreme survival situations, it’s smartest to save the first aid kit for serious wounds. When you acquire small injuries, try yarrow to disinfect and encourage healing without dipping into the survival gear.
Crush yarrow leaves and flowers and apply it to your small nicks and scratches. Its antiseptic qualities will help blood clotting and prevent infection. Spot this plant throughout North America from the coast to alpine zone, as well as in Europe and Asia.
Pain Relieving Plants
Even though CVS might not be open to grab some ibuprofen, Mother Nature’s got your back when it comes to pain relief. Pain is mainly caused by inflammation during survival situations. So, by reducing inflammation, you can thus lower pain and treat issues like arthritis, headaches, and minor injuries.
Smilax offers a wide variety of pain-relieving qualities for survivalists. There are over 300 different types, including a few species that live in warmer areas of the U.S., or grow your own with an indoor garden DIY. Chew on these plants to relieve pain quickly.
Survival situations may turn you into a tree hugger. Birch bark contains salicylates which have strong pain relief qualities. You can scrape the bark from twigs and boil it in hot water for around 10 minutes to make tea.
The correct ratio is about ¼ teaspoon of bark per cup of water. Use caution when consuming this plant, as too much of it can cause stomach issues or nausea. If any problems occur, don’t continue using this natural first aid for survival.
Black widow bark is another natural healer. It contains something called salicin, which is basically like Earth’s version of aspirin. Shave off some bark and chew on it to lower a fever or relieve some pain.
Natural Cold and Flu Meds
We’ve all suffered through colds and flus, (while whining in our cozy bed after downing some Dayquil). Imagine doing it while also toughing through an emergency! Luckily, our plant friends are here to heal.
Aside from being the best plant for cold and flu, echinacea is just gorgeous. Grind it up into a paste and apply to the skin for fungal or yeast infections. When healing a cold, dry the roots or leaves and use them for a potent tea.
Mallow, a plant native to Europe and northern Africa, can often be found in America’s wilderness. It’s incredibly effective at clearing up mucus from infections and colds. Not to mention, it will make your survival garden look stunning.
To use mallow, boil the roots and leaves to make tea, just like with echinacea. Additionally, you can place the leaves on infected wounds to draw out pus. With some organic herbal tea, you’ll kick that cold to the curb.
With all this new info on plant medicine, it’s time to start searching for prepper garden ideas. Whether you’re preparing just in case, or quite literally living in survival mode, knowing which plants can help will greatly improve your journey. For more info on all things prepping, check out some more from Crow Survival before you go.
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