Originally left in the comments section of the Guerrilla Hospital post by my friend DVM, this was so well written that it needed posting on its own. I suggest having a healthy reference library on hand, with Mary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs, Peterson’s Guides and Tom Brown’s Guide to Edible and Medicinal Plants being cornerstones. They are not a substitute for consulting a doctor about various health conditions. This is posted strictly for information purposes only. -NCS
I recently completed the Family Herbalist program through the School of Natural Healing. Medications will run out if things go sideways. Herbs, if used correctly are safe and do not have the side effects that synthetic medications do. There are many texts out there covering herbs. SNH is the one that I went with and so far I’m happy with what I’ve learned. I will leave a few here.
Disclaimer: if you don’t know what your doing, don’t do it. There are many herbs out there, such as poison hemlock, that will kill the shit out of you. Make sure, if foraging herbs, you know precisely what it is you are gathering. Use herbs at your own risk. Also, this information is given freely. I receive no compensation, monetarily, or otherwise for providing this.
There are a number of different routes each of these can be taken, but assuming folks will be snoopin & poopin in the woods I will include those that can be used in the woods without a lot of prep. All recommended doses are for adults. Use 1/2 dose for teenagers (13-16), 1/4 dose for children (6-12), 1/8 dose for babies (2-6), and 1/16 dose for infants under 2 yrs. Where multiple herbs are listed, on or all can be used separately or in conjunction for teas, poultices, or fomentations. Use equal parts in combination.
According to SNH, to help stop bleeding you can, in addition to direct pressure, use Cayenne tincture, 10-12 drops, in conjunction with Horsetail tincture 10-15 drops every couple of minutes until bleeding stops. Cayenne powder can be placed directly on the wound. In the field, Shepard’s Purse, Yarrow, or Horsetail poultice can be applied directly to the wound. If infection develops, apply a Plantain poultice.
Colds/Flu drink Nettle, Horsetail, or Yarrow tea 3-4 cups per day.
Diarrhea is the body’s way of flushing something it doesn’t want out, but if it gets too bad a person can become quite dehydrated. In the field, drink Yarrow, and/or Catnip tea, 2-3 cups a day. Inner barks of Aspen, Larch, Birch, Oak made into tea will help stop diarrhea.
Exhaustion, in the field, drink Nettle tea, 2-3 cups per day. Also, Alfalfa, Dandelion, Mullein tea will help increase energy.
Fever, Yarrow tincture, 10-15 drops 3 times a day or Yarrow tea, 4-6 cups a day. Elderflower and Peppermint tea is excellent for helping with fevers. Keep in mind, a fever is your body’s natural defense against pathogens. It is not recommended to stop a fever immediately. Let your immune system do its job.
Infections, in the field, drink Plantain, Yarrow, Oregon Grape tea, 3-4 cups a day. Make a poultice of the same material and apply to the area. Garlic oil can be taken internally. Honey has antibiotic and antifungal properties.
Poison Ivy, Oak, & Sumac, use Plantain, Mullein poultice or fomentation over affected area. Drink Plantain, Nettle, Yarrow, and/or Catnip tea, 3-4 cups per day.
Pneumonia, drink Plantain tea, as hot as you can take it, 2-3 cups a day. Drink Yarrow tea, 2-3 cups a day.
Abscesses, in the field, use fresh Yarrow or Plantain as a poultice over abscess. Drink Yarrow or Plantain tea 2-5 cups a day.
Allergies, in the field, drink Nettle and Mullein teas, 2-4 cups a day. Raw honey from the local area can also help with seasonal allergies. 1-2 tsps three times a day.
Frostbite: (mild) apply Cayenne Heat Ointment over area and wrap. Cayenne tincture internally, 10-20 drops 4-6 times a day. If the person’s skin is white or grayish with no pain, just tingling or numbness, do not massage the frostbitten area, but bring the person to a place out of the elements. Then gently warm the area. Do not allow to refreeze. In the field, apply Mistletoe poultice over affected area. Drink Nettle tea, 4-6 cups a day.
Teas (infusions): made from the flowers and/or leaves of fresh or dried herbs. (Herbs may be whole, cut or powdered). Bring to a boil, one or more cups of water and add 1 tbsp of fresh herb or 1 tsp dried herb to each cup of water. Remove from heat and let steep for 10-20 mins. For extra strength, steep longer. Strain and add honey to sweeten if desired. REMBMBER, never boil your herbs.
Teas (Decoction): mad from the bark, inner bark, or roots of trees and herbs. Bring to a boil, one or more cups of water. Add two tbsp of cut-up root or bark to each cup of water. Gently boil for 5-10 minutes, then remove from heat and let steep for 25-35 mins. Strain and repeat the process with the same herbs. Add both liquids together and add honey to sweeten if desired.
Fomentation (Compress) take a piece of natural cloth (cotton, wool, etc.) and dip into warm infusion or decoction (teas). Wring it out just enough so it isn’t dripping. Place over the desired area and secure with a piece of plastic or tape.
Poultice: made by heating fresh or dried herbs in water and straining, placing the herbs in a natural cloth and securing with plastic or tape. Poultice can also be made by chewing, bruising, or chopping fresh herbs and placing them directly on the skin.
Tinctures (Extracts): tinctures are more concentrated than teas and can be easily assimilated. Mix 8oz of dried/cut herb, or 4oz powdered herb to 16oz (1 pint) of alcohol (must be at least 80 proof, Vodka or Everclear brands are recommended). Age for 14 days, shaking bottle 2-4 timesf a day, gently mixing well. After 14 days, strain and pour into amber glass bottles and cap tightly. Tinctures will keep this way indefinitely with little loss of potency. It is the ideal way to store herbs if you want them to last. If you don’t want to ingest the alcohol, simply add your tincture dose to a cup of hot water. The alcohol will evaporate.
Herbal oils: cover desired amount of fresh or dried herbs with olive oil. Keep in a warm place for 2-3 weeks or warm on low heat for 1.5-2 hours, stirring occasionally. Do not boil. Strain and press oil from herbs. Store in refrigerator to keep from spoiling. Add vegetable glycerine to keep for longer periods.
Ointments: cover desired amount of herbs with olive oil. Gently warm on low heat for 1.5-2 hours, stirring occasionally. Strain and add melted beeswax to reach desired consistency. Ointment of coconut oil or cocoa butter can be made simply by heating herbs in melted oil and straining. This ointment must be kept cool (<80F) or it will melt.
These are only a few of the herbs and preparation techniques that can be used to treat many of the ailments that may be experienced during an extended camping trip. Hope they help.
Dr. Christopher has many herbal formulas that are available on Amazon. X-Ceptic Tincture is highly recommended to have on hand for infection.