As established in my previous article (Click here if you missed it), survival medicine is an important aspect when dealing with survival situations. I wanted to go deeper into the details of how to recognize these plants in the wild and how to prepare them.
First off we’ll take a look at the different preparation methods for plants and herbs.
An old time favorite method of using medicinal herbs and plans. It’s the ideal way of treating small children or very ill persons. To make a traditional medical cup of tea. simply get a tea ball, stuff it with crushed dried herbs and plants, put it into a cup, pour boiling water, cover it and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
One thing to remember is that the herbs and plants need to be crushed not powdered. Most medicinal teas have quite a bitter taste, so to sweeten them up, add a tea spoon of honey. This will also increase the potency of the tea. Depending on the illness, severity and plants used to make the tea, the dosage will vary, but as a standard 3-4 cup a day should suffice.
When dealing with infants and children, use a very mild herbal tea so that it can be more palatable to them.
These come in handy when having to treat skin infections, itchy, dry skin, burns and they can also be used as ear drops.
Crush herbs and plants and put them in a glass baking pan until they cover all the bottom. Next add olive oil to at least 1/2 inch. The reason to use olive oil is that it will not go rancid, so you can cook up this ahead of time and then store it. Cover the pan with a lightweight fabric and leave it in the sun for about 2 weeks. Then strain the oil through a cloth with a tight weave and bottle it. I recommend this method over using the oven, due to safety measures.
This is a variation of oil infusion that was hardened by using beeswax. To make it, simple put the oil infusion in a stainless steel cooking pot, heat gently and then add chopped or shaved beeswax once the oil is warmed. A standard dosage is 2 oz beeswax per cup of oil.
After the beeswax is melted, use a wooden spoon and take a little of the composition and then place a few drops on a saucer. Let the drops cool and then touch them. The perfect salve should stay hard for a few seconds as you gently press your finger on it then suddenly soften from your body heat. If it’s too soft add more beeswax to the mix, if it’s too hard add some more oil. After you’re done simple pour it into containers and store it.
This method is often used when dealing with breathing problems. Ideally you should use fresh herbs and plants, but dried ones work as well. Fill a large pot with water and place 1-2 hands full into it and bring it to a boil. Take the pot off the stove and place it on a wooden surface.
Grab a towel, hang your head over the pot and cover your head and the pot with the towel. Be careful not to get too close as you could burn yourself on the pot or from the steam. Now breathe deeply. When steam stops rising, put the pot on the stove and bring it to a boil again, then repeat until the desired relief is achieved.
This is the most potent herbal treatment of them all. They represent the use of alcohol in the extraction process of medical components from dried herbs and plants. Some of the components are not soluble in water, so a more powerful medium is required in order to make them available. Another added bonus is that alcohol-based tinctures keep their potency for years if kept in dark recipients.
To prepare the tincture you need quart canning jars with lids, dried herbs/botanicals, and at least 90 proof Vodka. The idea is to have the medical components of the herbs/plants saturate the alcohol you use. Whiskey, liquors or brandy can also be used, but keep in mind that they already have components saturating the alcohol, and will probably not be as potent. Still it’s better than nothing at all.
Fill the quart jar about 1/3 full of dried herb/botanical, chopped root, or crushed leaf, fill the jar to the “shoulder” with the chosen alcohol, secure the lid, shake, and put in a dark cool place. Every 2nd or 3rd day give it a shake. In 10-14 days strain the liquid into dark bottles or jars, cap tightly, and label.
The commonly accepted tincture dosage is 1-2 eye droppers full, 1 dropper full equals approximately 1/2 teaspoon. Place half to one teaspoon of tincture in a glass of water and drink. You can also use tinctures to make a nasal spray for sinus congestion/infection. Buy some of those empty 1 oz (30 ml) nasal spray bottles at the drug store, put 8-10 DROPS of tincture in the bottle, fill the bottle with distilled water, and use as often as needed, 1-2 sprays per nostril.
This method is similar to infusion, but it’s mostly used for roots, bark, nuts, seeds and other tougher plant material. Place the components into a pot full of water and bring it to the boil. Make sure you select a pot that has a snug fitting lid.
A rule of thumb is to use 2 teaspoons of cut herbs for every 8 oz of water. Once the water is boiling, place the lid, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes. After the time has passed, turn off the heat, remove the pot and let it cool. Strain the mixture and make sure to press on the herbs to get all of the vital ingredients out of them.
Decoctions can be used externally as compresses by soaking a sterile dressing in the liquid and applying it on the body or internally by drinking half a cup 2-3 times a day.
Recognizing The Plants
Now let’s take a look at the plants and herbs I mentioned in my previous post. Keep in mind that some of them can be found in the wilderness, while others you will need to grow yourself.
Is an annual herb which can be found growing along fence rows, roadsides, and in sunny open fields from Southern Canada to Northern U.S. west to Minnesota. The flowers are daisy-like about 1 inch across and bloom from May to October. The entire plant has a pineapple scent (apple to some) and planted in the garden is said to help sickly plants to grow. Gather the above ground parts as soon as flowers bloom, dry for later herb use in teas and salves.
This plant is native to Africa, but has found its way all across the globe. While you will not find it in the wilds, you can grow it in a pot or in your very own garden. They thrive best in light with well-drained soil, and do not require frequent watering. When needed cut a fresh leaf close to the bottom of the plant, split it open, and use the gel inside topically on burns, minor cuts, and even radiation burns.
Cayenne peppers have been grown for thousands of years in the West Indies and Central and South America, being introduce to the rest of the world by Spanish explorers. It can be cultivated virtually anywhere, but it prefers a warm, moist, nutrient-rich soil in a warm climate. The plants grow to about 20–39 in long in height and should be spaced 3 ft apart. In gardens, the plants may be planted as close as 30 cm 1 ft long apart in a raised bed. Chillis are mostly perennial in subtropical and tropical regions; however, they are usually grown as annuals in temperate climates. They can be overwintered if protected from frost, and require some pruning. The peppers can be used fresh or dried in foods. For oil infusions, tinctures and salves use dried and powdered ones.
Garlic is a perennial plant that can be cultivated, but you can also find it in the wild from Texas to Florida to New Brunswick to Montana. The fresh cloves are used to make a tea or tincture.
With the exception of the ice caps and the jungles you can find lavender anywhere across the globe. It’s heat and drought tolerant and can grow quite easily in your very own garden. Like any new plant, you need to give lavender plenty of water and attention until its roots are well established. Once lavender is established in your herb garden, plants will need to be pruned every year. the fresh or dried flowers are used to produce a tea, tincture or infusions.
Can be found all over the country, mostly in open woods and can also be cultivated. Comfrey rootstocks should be planted in the spring, and its leaves can be harvested from April to September. From January through March the roots contain the most allantoin, which is its primary medicinal agent. The leaves should be gathered between 5 and 6 in the evening when the healing properties are most concentrated. the leaves, aerial parts, and root are used in salves and infused oils.
It is native to eastern North America and present to some extent in the wild in much of the eastern, southeastern and Midwestern United States. Echinacea is an herbaceous perennial up to 47 in tall by 10 in wide at maturity. Depending on the climate, it blooms throughout spring to late summer. You can easily grow it in your garden from either seed or cuttings from someone who already has the plant. It thrives in either dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought once established. The flowers and roots can used to produce tinctures and teas.
It is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers. It has a distant cousin that can be found in the southeast wilderness of the U. S. named False Rosemary or short leafed rosemary, but until now no study has showed that the two share the same medical properties.
Rosemary grows on friable loam soil with good drainage in an open, sunny position. It will not withstand waterlogging and some varieties are susceptible to frost. It grows best in neutral to alkaline conditions with average fertility.
It can be propagated from an existing plant by clipping a shoot 4–6 in. long, stripping a few leaves from the bottom, and planting it directly into soil. The fresh or dried leaves are used to produce teas and tinctures.
In the wild it grows on sun-drenched rocky ground, in heaths, in dried-up lawns, near ant hills and on mountain highlands. Thyme is best cultivated in a hot, sunny location with well-drained soil. It is generally planted in the spring, and thereafter grows as a perennial. It can be propagated by seed, cuttings, or by dividing rooted sections of the plant. It tolerates drought well. The fresh or dried aerial parts including leaves are used to produce teas and tinctures.
Yarrow is a perennial herb, native to Europe and Asia and naturalized in North America and most other countries throughout the world. Is very common along roadsides and in old fields, pastures, and meadows in the eastern and central United States. It’s quite easy to cultivate and it will even survive in poor soil. The fresh or dried aerial parts are used to make a tea and tincture.
Having a well grown medicinal garden and having the knowledge of how to prepare the different plants and herbs at your disposal, may prove vital when modern medicine will be unavailable.