By Tara Dodrill
Medical preparedness is often the most difficult aspect those who wish to live a self-reliant lifestyle face. The recent H3N2 epidemic is a prime example of how deadly a common seasonal ailment can become, especially for the very young and the elderly.
Stockpiling over the counter pain remedies such as Tylenol, Pedialyte, and cough syrup are an excellent way to help prepare for an epidemic, pandemic, or long-term disaster – but so much more should be done to protect the health of the family. In addition to garnering masks, one-time-use paper gowns, and gloves, and planning for a “sick room” to stop the spread of illness during a disaster, prepper families should also explore growing their own pharmacy in order to have an extended supply of natural remedies to draw upon when the flu or another type of virus hits the area.
H3N2 has swept across 22 states and claimed the lives of at least 15 children, according to the CDC. The mutated strain of the flu virus has reportedly caused 2,500 hospitalizations around the United States. H3N2 typically affects young children, people age 65 and older, and teenagers.
CDC flu epidemic statistics indicate that deaths from pneumonia and the flu have exceeded the “national baseline” and H3N2 is at the “epidemic threshold of 6.8 percent.” The number of states reporting cases of the deadly flu strain has recently increased from 13 to 22. Health officials feel that the flu epidemic has increased because the H3N2 strain mutated and therefore reduced the effectiveness of the pre-prepared vaccine. Approximately 90 percent of flu cases this year had been of the “virulent H3N2 subtype,” according to the Center for Disease Control.
H3N2 flu cases are currently centered primarily around the Midwest and the southeastern regions of the nation. Six Tennessee children have died from the flu this year and 442 have been hospitalized from the illness this month alone, according to the department of health in that state. Between October 1 and December 20, the start of the flu season, 15 children have died form the H3N2 flu strain – four in the week leading up to Christmas.
Minnesota has been hard hit by the H3N2 flu epidemic. Health officials in the state are warning parents that the flu strain is “particularly strong.” The H3N2 mutant strain has reportedly been fatal to children free from other apparent underlying heath issues. A total of 50 percent of the public school population was absent during December due to the flu.
The H3N2 flu strain is also reportedly causing more hospitalizations and deaths among senior citizens. “Though we cannot predict what will happen the rest of this flu season, it’s possible we may have a season that’s more severe than most,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden stated during a recent press conference.
Although the CDC has admitted that the existing flu vaccine does not prevent the mutant H3N2 flu strain, health agency officials feel that the vaccine “should” still provide some type of protection against the illness.The flu is considered one of the leading killers in the United States. During a typical year, approximately 24,000 Americans die from the flu, CDC statistics indicate. About 150 million flu vaccines have been distributed around the country this flu season.
Growing Your Own Pharmacy
The medicinal benefits from tree bark are found in the greenish yellow or green or cambium layer just beneath the outer portion of the bark. Bark can be dried and saved for the future or put to immediate use. To dry the bark properly without damaging or over-drying the cambium layer, place the bark in a shaded area and do not overlap the pieces. To prepare the bark for use, simmer about two teaspoons of the matter with one cup of water for about 20 minutes in a non-aluminum pot with the lid on. Strain the water off, allow to cool, then pour in a cup and drink.
To ensure the longevity of the tree, never cut bark from the trunk of a living tree. It is also advisable to avoid ring barking or girdling the medicinal tree. The complete removal of an entire strip of bark from around the circumference of a trunk or branch results in damage and ultimately the death, of wood tissues.
• Apple – Tree bark is used to treat fevers and diarrhea. Stewed apples can be used as a laxatives. Baked apples are great as a warm poultice for fevers and sore throat. Apple cider helps destroy intestinal flora and decrease bacteria flowing to the bowels.
• Beech – Bark tea from this tree will help treat lung problems and was once used in tuberculosis treatments. It is also used to help cleanse the blood. Beech tea is not recommended for pregnant women. Leaf tea is used in poultices to treat frostbite and burns.
• Cedar – Bark tea is used to treat fevers, rheumatism, the flu, and chest colds.
• Elder – Bark tea is used to treat headaches, for congestion, and to lower fever by inducing perspiration.
• Oak – White oak is often heralded as the best variety of the tree for treating internal problems. Other varieties of the oak tree have frequently been used in wound washes and poultices. Tea brewed from a white oak tree has been used to treat chronic diarrhea, sore throats, and mucus discharges. . Herbalists caution that prolonged ingestion of teas from any oak tree could be potentially harmful.
• Elm – Bark salve and poultices are used to treat gunshot wounds chilblains, and on the abdomen to draw out fever. Bark tea is very high in calcium and helps increase the healing of injured bones, helps heal sore throats, soothes urinary and bowel issues, and thwarts diarrhea.
• Hazel – The small tree is perfect for folks without ample growing space. The small nut clusters typically grow in groups of two or four. Twigs from the hazel tree have been used to bolster kidney health. Herbalists have also used bark from the tree to treat ulcers and various types of tumors. The Chippewa tribe mixed together white oak root, bark from a chokecherry tree, heartwood or ironwood, and hazel root to help stop bleeding from the lungs.
• Pine – All varieties of pines have been applauded for their antiseptic properties. White pine is often regarded as the “most palatable” for internal use. Pine tree twigs and needles are said to contain copious amounts of Vitamin C and are often used in herbal and medicinal teas. The teas are used to treat the common cold, coughs, and sore throats. Chinese herbalists have been known to boil the knot of pine trees to make use of the concentrated resins contained inside. Bathing in the mixture is said to improve circulation, soothe sore muscles, calm the nerves, and aid kidney problems.
• Maple – A leaf wound wash or poultice is used to relieve sore eyes and soreness of the breasts for nursing mothers and pregnant women. Bark tea is used to treat kidney infections, the common cold, and bronchitis.
Tara Dodrill is the author of Power Grid Down: How To Prepare, Survive & Thrive After The Lights Go Out, The Prepared Family website creator, and a writer for Off The Grid News, Prepper and Shooter Magazine, Survival Life, Survival Based, and the host of the Common Sense Prepping radio show on the Prepper Broadcasting Network. Dodrill is also the Social Media Manager for Prepper and Shooter Magazine and the Lights Out Saga movie series.