Though most people are used to getting their medicine from a pharmacist or at the local department store, Mother Nature has provided her own versions too. For preppers, homesteaders and survivalists who know where to look, there are incredibly potent medicinal plants all around.
Personally, I’ve got a huge interest in natural remedies. I will never put my health at risk by shunning modern medicines, but if a traditional herbal solution is available, I’ll give it first crack at the ailment.
Before applying or ingesting any natural or herbal product, check with your doctor to ensure it won’t badly interact with any medicines or conditions you may have. Your health and your independence are ultimately your responsibility, and that includes ensuring you’ve done adequate research before starting any new health regime or practice.
Let’s take a look at five examples now.
Everyone knows aloe vera is a powerful plant. It’s known by its thick, sometimes shiny leaves that grow to a point at every angle from the root.
Aloe vera tends to be bright green and its leaves have tiny barbs on either side of them, though they aren’t as painful as thorns. Unlike the leaves of many other plants, those of aloe vera should provide a little resistance before you’re able to rip them open.
Inside an aloe vera leaf is the source of its acclaim. Upon snapping a leaf open, you should notice a translucent gel. This is perfect for treating burns. It’s also great for sunburns and will help prevent peeling later on.
You can apply aloe to a cut, abrasion, or other open wound too. Obviously, be careful to remove its barbs first. You can eat the gel as a way of soothing stomach problems as well, including constipation. In an extreme scenario, the leaves can be made into a suppository to help with hemorrhoids.
Another good plant to know about is burdock root.
This plant resembles rhubarb, especially its leaves. However, when it blossoms, it will produce purple balls covered in barbs that resemble Velcro. Though originally from Japan, it can now be found in North America and elsewhere around the world.
While it may be eaten—and has long been a part of Chinese cuisine—burdock is also great for soothing dry, scaly skin. You can use it as a digestive stimulant as well or to bring your blood sugar down.
The seeds of this plant are useful as a diuretic or to support your kidneys. Its many health benefits have made burdock root a common product in health food stores.
Comfrey can be found along streams in Northeast North America.
It’s a hairy plant with coarse, pointed leaves. When it blooms, its flowers are white, purple and bell-shaped. Like aloe vera, it can be applied to scrapes, cuts and burns to help them heal faster via tissue regeneration. But it can also be applied externally to help bone fractures heal (its traditional name is “knitbone” and “boneset” – which appear to have been substantiated by modern medicine). Just be sure the area is properly sterilized. Comfrey works so quickly that it will seal up any bacteria left on the wound.
Although you can make comfrey leaves into a tea, don’t drink it. There’s reason to believe it may be carcinogenic. You instead want to apply the tea to insect bites, burns or whatever else is ailing your skin.
Everyone knows what a dandelion looks like and most of us probably passed this common weed without so much as a second thought (unless we’re yanking them out of our yards).
However, these plants are extremely beneficial when you need medicine. Being naturally high in potassium, they make for a great diuretic. Spleen and liver congestion can also be eliminated with dandelions.
Unlike comfrey, you want to make dandelions into a tea to drink. Cut the root up into small pieces and then add it to a glass of simmering water for about 10 minutes before straining and serving.
This is another plant that has been introduced to North America, though it was originally native to Europe and certain parts of Asia.
Valerian has branches of tiny leaves about an inch long and third an inch across. They form to a soft point with no sharp edges throughout.
In a survival situation, valerian can be a lot of help. It’s considered a nervine and sedative because Valerian can provide mild pain relieving effects. This makes it a great form of natural medicine for someone dealing with anxiety or stress, two conditions that come easy when you’re trying to survive. People have also used it to treat insomnia.
Women have found valerian a capable medicine for fighting menstrual cramps as well, and it works on migraines too.
The world is covered in other options as well, so it’s worth learning more about the plants in your region that can be cultivated for medicinal purposes.
If I’m considering trying a new herbal medicine or treatment, I’ll jump online to find the opinion of the establishment Medical Science. I want to know what they know. I admit that I take what they say with at least a small grain of salt, so to speak, in that I know Big Pharma greatly influences modern medical decisions.
The type of thing I’m looking for is a statement that essentially says, “If you take this, it will destroy your liver/kidneys/lungs (whatever).” Whenever they use the term, “may affect” my Big Pharma alert starts to wail, and that grain of salt is liberally applied. I then do a SIGNIFICANT amount of more research. I have no desire to become ill because of the use of a natural product, but I won’t be scared off just because Big Pharm got the final edit on a posted article.
If both the Country Science and the Medical Science say something is safe (or at least not harmful), I’ll give it a try. If the medical folks have concerns – and those concerns are supported on some other non-traditional medicine sites, I email my doctor for her input. Based on the information I’ve gathered, I’ll then proceed or not.