Survival Food Series: Medicinal Plants for the Survival Garden
Plants have been revered through out history for their magical healing powers. In a dire situation where over the counter medicine is no longer available, many will be forced to turn their backs on modern medicine and reacquaint themselves with more homeopathic and natural forms.
In this type of situation, many will be turning to alternative medicines to alleviate and assist some of the more chronic health issues such as high blood pressure, menopausal symptoms, migraines, anemia and arthritis. Acquiring books on herbal medicines for a disaster scenario would be a great knowledge source to add to any preparedness library.
In the book, Herbal Medicine: The Natural Way To Get Well and Stay Well by Dian Dincin Buchman, Ph. D, the author advises how important natural medicine is. She adds that, “Even though much of the medical community ignores, perhaps even disdains plant medicine as too old fashioned, plants are nonetheless the basis for some of the most effective drugs.” This article is based on some of the author’s favorite medicinal herbs.
Top Ten Medicinal Herbs for a Survival Garden
1. Cayenne Pepper – (Capsicum minimum)
“Cayenne pepper is a powerful stimulant, producing a sense of heat in the stomach, and a general glow ove r the body without a narcotic effect. A few grains in hot tea will aid in sluggish digestion and flatulence.” (Source – Herbal Medicine: The Natural Way To Get Well and Stay Well)
- This pepper can assist as a digestion aid. Using sparingly, sprinkle a bit over food or in a hot soup.
- Cayenne pepper is a good source of Vitamin C.
- Mixing cayenne pepper to a citrus drink such as grapefruit juice can be a very effective energizing drink.
- Cayenne pepper can be used to combat a sore throat and can also be used in a sore throat gargle mix.
- An effective anti flu drink uses 2 tsp. of cayenne pepper, 1 1/2 tsp. of salt, 1 cup of boiling water, 1 c. apple cider vinegar. Most adults can take between 1 tsp.-1 tbls. every half hour.
- Sprinkling cayenne pepper in shoes will warm the feet when it is cold outside. Caution: it will stain the area where it is sprinkled, but it is quite effective.
- Cayenne has a history of being used during malignant sore throats and in scarlet fever where it is used internally and as a gargle.
- Cayenne tea can be used as a control for internal or external bleeding and should be used for those health emergencies where no medical or nursing help is available.
- A few grains on the gums of cayenne will smart on the gum, and in a cavity and act as a temporary pain alleviator.
2. Chamomile – (Anthemis nobilis )
- This herb is known for it’s uses as a mild sedative.
- Some homeopathic and natural remedies for children with ADD/ADHD have used chamomiles calming properties.
- The flowers can be strained out of the tea and placed into a warm compress to use on ear infections.
- Tea compresses and tea rinses can be used to treat eye problems.
- It also has the power to assist in healing of indigestion, morning sickness, nervousness, neuralgia, painful periods and assists as a sleeping agent.
3. Dandelion – (Taraxacum officinale)
- The salt in this plant acts to neutralize the acids in the blood and is considered a cleaning tonic.
- When the flowers and a few leaves are gathered and made into a tea that treats biliousness (gastric disorder caused by liver or gall bladder disorder) and reducing ankle swelling.
- To jump start a slow functioning liver, drink two to four ounces of freshly sliced dandelion root in two pints of water until the water is reduced to 1 ounce.
- A coffee can be made from the root to cleanse the liver and also has a tonic effect on the pancreas, the spleen and the female organs.
- If a person is suffering from gallstones, dandelion can also be used. Combine an ounce of each: dandelion root, parsley root, lemon balm with a half ounce each of licorice root and ginger root. Add two quarts of boiling water, simmer down to one quart, strain the liquid and drink a half glass every two hours.
- The Chinese “barefoot doctors” use the entire dandelion in their healing practices. The leaves and the tops are simmered together in a decoction, or they are crushed and used as a poultice for boils and abscesses on the body.
- Dandelion has also been known to lower elevated cholesterol levels, as well as normalize blood sugar levels in diabetics, and can also help cure symptoms of gout due to its uric acid content.
- Additionally, young leaves can be gathered in the spring time to make a lovely salad or a steamed side dish.
4. Echinacea – (Echinacea Paradoxa, Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida)
- There are three types of echinacea plants, and all have the same healing properties. The chemical constituents are different in some, but the healing is the same.
- Although the root is most widely used for it’s medicinal purposes, truly the entire plant can be used.
- This herb strengthens the body’s ability to resist infection and stimulates production of white blood cells. Echinacea stimulates the body in non chronic illness such as colds, bronchitis, sore throats, abscesses and for recurrences of yeast infections.
- Echinacea can also be taken as an anti-inflammatory for arthritis.
- A gargling solution can also be made with the tea to use with a sore throat. For cases that are not strep throat related: add 10-16 drops to water or to sage or ginger tea and use as a gargling agent. If a person is fighting strep throat: every two hours, gargle with the above mentioned teas to which add a dropful of echinacea extract. If only tablet or capsules are available, take then every two hours during the acute stage.
- It also helps eliminates mucus and phlegm associated with certain respiratory conditions.
5. Marigold- (Calendula officinalis)
- Marigold is an excellent herb to have on hand for skin issues such as eczema, skin inflammations, soothing varicose veins, soothing chapped hands and can be used to reduce body scars.
- Creating a plaster by combing marigold ointment and peppermint can be used on the chest to ease the heart during inte4nse fevers.
- Dipping a compress into marigold tea and using equal parts of apple cider vinegar can alleviate inflammation.
- The author believes that marigold is “the greatest healing agent for all wounds.”
- Using marigold in the case of open wounds that will not heal is an effective way to promote rapid healing.
- This flower is also a haemostatid after a tooth extraction.
- A douche can made from marigold to aid in leukorrhea (vaginal discharges)
- Due to marigolds cleansing properties, it can also be used as dressing a terrible wound.
- Marigold was also used as a toothache and headache preventative in the 1500’s in England.
- This is also a great companion plant to many garden vegetables.
6. Peppermint – (Mentha piperita)
- Peppermint is used in a tea in conjunction with chamomile as a digestive aid.
- It has stimulating and refreshing properties that dispels headaches.
- Peppermint tea will also assist in overcoming muscle spasms and cramps.
- Due to the camphorous principles in peppermint, if peppermint is applied to a wet wash cloth it can be used externally to relieve pain.
- This herb also hep clear sinus infections. Apply a large, warm peppermint pack to the sinus area.
7. Sage - (Salvia officinalis)
- A tea made of common sage can help lift depression. A pinch of bruised cloves and a pinch of pure ginseng can also be added as these herbs are also used as antidepression herbs.
- Rubbing the sage leaves across the teeth can be used to clean the teeth and assist in bad breath. The tea can also be used to gargle with.
- Sage tea rub downs and sage baths can be used to ring down a fever. American Indians used this type of fever reducer. Note: adding apple cider vinegar to the tea for reduction can be quite effective and the patient simply feel better.
- Sage tea can used as an antiseptic by chewing the sage leaves to cleanse the system of impurities or drank as tea.
- Sage has also been known to assist with hot flashes associated with menopause.
- If a person has stomach troubles, cold sage tea can used to alleviate the symptoms.
- Sage can also be used to treat the flu. Using the tea before and during any type of epidemics and to hasten healing during a flu attack.
- Sage leaves can be wrapped around a wound like a band aid to help heal the wound faster.
8. St. John’s Wort – (hypericum perforatum)
- St. John’s wort tea is used to treat sleep disorders, insomnia and feelings of general unrest.
- If you have gastritis, St. John’s Wort can be used as a diuretic to treat this condition.
- A vegetable oil preparation containing the flowers of the herb is used externally to relieve hemorrhoids.
- St. John’s wort also can relieve anxiety and fatigue.
- St. John’s wort relieves inflammation and bacterial infection.
- St. John’s wort soothes wounds and the pain associated with contusions.
- The analgesic ingredient in St. John’s wort helps relieve pain associated with arthritis and other joint conditions, and can also relieve neurological pain.
9. Tea Tree- (Melaleuca alternifolia)
- The Aborigines have used this plant for centuries as an antiseptic to heal insect bites, stings, abrasions , cuts and warts.
- Because of tea tree oils high antibacterial properties it can also be used as an antiseptic to treat acne.
- Applying tea tree oil directly to fungus on feet (Athlete’s foot), or adding drops into a foot bath this will help treat the fungus.
- Tea tree oil can also be used to cure cold sores.
- Diluting the tea tree oil (4 drops of oil and a pint of water) in water can also be used as a douche to cure yeast infections.
- Adding a few drops on tea tree oil to a fine tooth comb and combing through hair to catch lice eggs is also effective.
10. Thyme - (Thymus vulgaris)
- Although thyme is normally used in culinary recipes, it has a great range of use.
- Thyme can help alleviate gastric problems such as wind, colic and bad breath.
- Thyme also has properties to help eliminate phlegm and is helpful in overcoming shortness of breath and help with most lung problems.
- If it also effective in fighting sore throat and post nasal drip.
- If a person has the whooping cough, make a syrup of thyme tea and honey to help treat the disease.
- Thyme can also be used to treat a fever. It is recommended to mix thyme with other herbs to have a better medicinal quality. Herbs used in conjunction with thyme to treat a high fever could be: marshmallow root tea, slippery elm powder (or tablets), fenugreek or comfrey root or leaf tea.
- This herb also helps relax the nervous system and can relive a headache.
- Thyme can be used as a first aid poultice. Make up a paste of moist (hot-moistened) thyme leaves and apply it to the skin to relieve the pain of an abscess, boil or swelling. A hot poultice of thyme can help relieve the pain of a sciatic attack, too.
- An antiseptic can be make for both internal and external use. It is also used as a local anaesthetic. Medicate gauze for surgical dressings with thyme.
- his herb is also great for skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, parasitic skin infections and burns.
- A insect spray (combined with lavender) can assist in keeping gnats and mosquitoes away. In fact, the Greeks used thyme as a fumigator.
- This herb can also be used to dispel worms and parasites.
Although garlic is not considered an herb, I would like to list this as another medicinal must have for the medicinal garden because it all its healing and health properties.
5. Garlic - (Allium sativum)
- Garlic has natural antibiotic properties.
- In Russia, garlic is used as an anti-flu remedy.
- Garlic draws out the pain from joints, toothaches, and earaches. Place a crushed raw piece of garlic on some gauze (otherwise some of these strong herbs can cause blisters) and place the gauze over the area of pain. For the joints, use a garlic paste. For the ear, use slivers in gauze. It takes about 5 days to cure the ear infection.
- Garlic also helps alleviate and draw out infection from abscesses in teeth as well as in the body.
As many are gearing up to buy seeds for a survival garden, please do not forget to purchase medicinal herbs. Keeping a body as strong as possible from viruses, colds and flu’s will only help a person in the long run. And supplying a home with organic healing medicines can, in an extreme emergency assist in saving their lives.
Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.
Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals.
Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.
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