Knowing how to use herbal alternatives to traditional antibiotics and pharmaceutical treatments can be lifesaving in a survival situation.
Unfortunately learning about herbal medicine can often be overwhelming. The following is a simplified list of steps to take and items to store that can start anyone on the path to self-sufficiency. 200 years ago every homemaker, and most doctors, used herbs and natural remedies to treat illnesses. Doctors were expensive, so homemakers had a basic knowledge of how to treat their families when illness struck. It is a skill that has been lost in an age of corner drugstores and synthesized medications, but as the cost of modern medicine and the development of resistant superbugs have skyrocketed, it is a skill set that everyone should relearn.
Learning & Education
1. Buy 3 GOOD herb books (1 of each type)
A. Wild Identification (Field Guide to medicinal herbs)
B. Herbal remedies/recipes (How-To with recipes)
C. Herbal Encyclopedia (Reference Book)
It can be hard to stop with just 3 books, but start small, expand your library after you are comfortable with the skills you are learning.
2. Practice the Basic Herbal preparations from the remedies/recipe book
A. Learn to make a salve
B. Learn to make a tincture
C. Learn to make a syrup
D. Learn to make herbal vinegars
E. Learn to make infused oils
3. Create a Self-Sustaining Herb Garden
A. Grow some herbs (start with a few basic and expand as your confidence and experience grows)
B. Learn to harvest/dry herbs
C. Learn to save/store herb seeds from the plants you grow. These are the 12 essential herbs/spices I recommend:
Most of the herbs on this list serve both culinary and medicinal purposes, making them excellent starter herbs to grow, store, use and become comfortable with. There are several others that can be easily wildcrafted anywhere, like plantain and dandelion that should be part of your skill set. This is not an all-inclusive list, but it is a great place to start and covers a wide range of ailments/treatments.
D. Start your own Home Herbal Remedies Notebook
Keep track of your preparations, your successes and failures. Document what works and write down your favorite remedies. These notebooks were once passed from generation to generation. Young women often copied their mother’s prior to marriage, continued to add to it, and passed it on to her children.
4. Practice, practice, practice
Start learning to identify wild herbs (wildcrafting) and begin to actually use your remedies to treat your family. Prevention is a key part of this. A clean home is a healthy home. As an added benefit of stocking a herbal home medicinal chest all the items you need to create natural home cleaning supplies and bath/beauty products will be on hand. You can begin saving money immediately, and apply those savings to purchasing your books & supplies.
5. 12 Additional items that are vital individually or in crafting herbal remedies. Stock up on these.
- Honey (Manuka Honey is the only known successful treatment for MRSA and other antibiotic-resistant super bugs, it is even being used in combat bandages and wound treatment clinics. It is the best choice, but in a pinch even local raw honey has great anti-bacterial qualities for wound treatment)
- Salt (Salt water soaks, disinfection, preservation)
- Alcohol (Grain or 90 proof Vodka for making tinctures & disinfection)
- Beeswax (Making salves)
- Vinegar (Endless uses, from prevention with immune boosting infused vinegar salad dressings, to cleaning with a homemade four thieves* vinegar infused spray)
- Baking Soda (Endless uses)
- Carrier Oils (Coconut Oil and Olive Oil are great choices here, since they should be part of your food storage anyway)
- Essential Oils (These can be expensive and a bit overwhelming, so start small. The three I use the most, and which I think every household should have are Tea Tree, Lavender & Peppermint.)
- Sugar (Used to make syrups and used for centuries to treat battlefield wounds, it works like honey to prevent infection and helps halt bleeding)
- Activated Charcoal (From Stomach ailments to spider bites, lots of uses)
- Soap (Nothing fancy, I prefer a simple homemade soap using rendered animal fat & lye. This basic soap can be used on everything from the floors, to your body, to cleaning clothes. Learning to make soap, in addition to basic herbal knowledge is vital to the prevention and treatment of illnesses. While you can just buy it now, knowing how to make it is a basic skill all interested in self-sufficiency should learn. It may appear daunting, but it is actually quite easy.
- Bottles & jars You can buy these from a bottle supplier, or use common mason jars and recycled glass condiment jars.
Learning to treat ailments naturally, without the use of modern medicine, has been common practice for thousands of years. Thankfully we still have the option to see a doctor if everything we try fails to work. However that option and access to medication may not be available in a survival situation. Having these skills are, in my opinion, just as important as stocking your long-term food storage and defense arsenals. It may appear daunting, but this simple list of skills to learn/practice and items to have on hand will create a basic herbal home medicine chest that can truly be a money-saver now, and a possible lifesaver in the future.
*Four Thieves Vinegar (sometimes referred to as Vinaigre des Quatre Voleurs) is a concoction of vinegar (either from red wine, white wine, cider, or distilled white) infused with herbs, spices or garlic that was believed to protect users from the plaque. The recipe for this vinegar has almost as many variations as its legend. The usual story declares that a group of thieves during a European plague outbreak were robbing the dead or the sick. When they were caught, they offered to exchange their secret recipe, which had allowed them to commit the robberies without catching the disease, in exchange for leniency. ~Wikipedia
I use Rosemary, Sage, Lavender, Thyme, Oregano & Peppermint in my Four Thieves Infused Vinegar. It covers all the bases, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic, and doesn’t include any toxic or problematic herbs that some mixes contain. It is safe enough to drink, which is important to me with kids/pets running around. It works better than bleach in my opinion. We are a very active family, tracking in lots of stuff from the outdoors. But in the last 10 years, aside from a few colds, no one has gotten sick enough that a doctor or antibiotics were necessary. To make this herbal vinegar you just mix equal parts herbs, (2 TBS each) add to a jar (quart) of vinegar and let it sit on a shelf for 4-6 weeks, shaking at least 1x a week while it is steeping. To use, strain it, then mix 50/50 with water for basic cleaning, full strength for heavy duty cleaning.
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