What would you do if our healthcare system collapsed? What would happen if we didn’t have access to modern medical care? How would you cope without doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical drugs?
I don’t know what you’d do. But here’s what I’d do. I’d read up on local herbs, growing in my backyard and in the surrounding woodland. Then, I’d do some research, in order to learn how to use these plants to treat everyday aches and pains, as well as chronic and acute conditions.
On this site, I like to write about natural remedies. That’s because I use them myself, every day. About 10 years ago I developed a potentially crippling nerve disease.
But my story has a happy ending. It didn’t progress. Instead, I’m beating back the symptoms with herbs, homeopathy and essential oils.
In recent years, I’ve become much more aware of the potential power of local herbs, growing right in our backyards. I’d probably have to use these, if I didn’t have access to anything else.
Where to Find Dandelion Tea
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Meanwhile, I do use these time-tested remedies. But, right now, instead of foraging, I buy them. Backyard herbs such as dandelion root, packaged as tea, are readily available online. Until I really know what I’m doing, I don’t have to worry about accidentally ingesting a poisonous lookalike.
How to Forage for Herbs
Becoming more knowledgeable about local herbs would mean working with a forager. Unfortunately, many medicinal herbs have highly toxic mimickers. Throughout history, they’ve taken countless lives.
Red clover has been used for centuries as a health tonic. However, it resembles something called crown vetch. The latter can be deadly if ingested. So, I can’t stress enough how important it is to team up with a more experienced person.
Please understand that I’m not a healthcare professional, so I can’t give medical advice. All of the opinions expressed are my own, derived from my personal experience with using herbs to treat my chronic inflammation. All questions should be directed to your doctor.
Local Grown Medicinal Plants
A growing number of people are discovering the art of homesteading. Or, at least they’re trying to learn to become more self sufficient. They are growing their own organic food. They’re raising their own animals. They’re exploring different energy solutions.
They’ve also rediscovered local medicinal plants. These herbs have a long history of use, for a wide range of ailments. It’s believed they contain powerful disease-fighting compounds. These plants can either be cultivated or harvested in the wild.
Many of the more useful medicinal plants are considered weeds. However, as more people discover their benefits, these botanical “pests” are being seen in an entirely new light.
Many common medicinal herbs are plentiful, especially in the warmer months. Because they grow wild, if you own the land, they are also free.
If you’d like to learn more about natural healing with backyard herbs, Backyard Medicine is an excellent place to start. This 225-page book is co-authored by a practicing herbalist who is a council member of the Association of Master Herbalists.
Dandelion as Medicine
The dandelion gets little respect, at least among people who don’t realize its nutritional and medicinal properties.
When people think of backyard medicine, this is one of the first things that spring to mind.
Some people take exotic adaptogens from around the world, while ignoring this locally grown herb.
Dandelions are loaded with nutrients, such as Vitamin A, calcium, potassium and B-complex vitamins, as well as a lot of micro-nutrients. Some natural healers believe these “weeds” can help purify the liver and the blood, as well as help to resolve kidney stones. However, please understand I’m making no claims, as very little research has been done on this herbal remedy.
Many people also chop up young dandelion greens (older ones are bitter) and use them in their salad. The flowers are also edible.
Dandelion root tea is one of the herbal remedies I take to help relieve my chronic nerve inflammation. I could harvest the weeds on my lawn. But, from what I understand, it’s difficult to prepare the roots so that you receive the full benefits. So it’s much easier for me to buy dandelion root tea. Here is the brand I own.
Red Clover for Medicine
Red clover can be found growing wild throughout much of the United States and in many other parts of the world.
This plant contains many nutrients and micro-nutrients our bodies need to stay healthy. A partial list includes Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, thiamine, chromium and phosphorus.
Because red clover contains phytoestrogens, or estrogen-related compounds, this herb has been traditionally used to relieve hot flashes in menopausal or peri-menopausal women. There is also some evidence that a certain red clover extract can act to prevent osteoporosis.
Red clover, though, is something I definitely don’t want to harvest myself, due to a deadly lookalike. So when I want to drink red clover tea I buy it online.
Medicinal Benefits Plantain
When people talk about medicinal plantain, they are referring to Plantago major. This herb is native to Europe and Asia. Its’ not the same thing as the large banana-like fruits used in Caribbean cuisine.
Plantago major now grows in many parts of the world. It’s often found springing up in sidewalk cracks. As a weed, it has the ability to grow in otherwise inhospitable conditions. It’s also extremely hardy, and able to survive being repeatedly stepped on.
As with many other medicinal herbs, plantain is loaded with vitamins and minerals. The leaves can also be consumed as a food.
This is one wild herb you might want in your medicine cabinet, if you’re serious about becoming more self sufficient. It has a reputation for helping to heal wounds. It’s also used for insect stings and rashes. Plantago major also has anti-viral and antibacterial properties. It’s said to be good for the urinary tract.
Where to Buy Plantain Tincture
In addition, plantain is also considered an herbal remedy for gout and diarrhea. Even though I think I have some plantain growing in my hard, I know there are toxic lookalikes. So I don’t plan to test them, when plantain tinctures are so readily available online.
Health Benefits Milk Thistle Extract
The milk thistle plant originally comes from Southern Europe, but it has spread all over the world. It’s scientific name is Silybum marianum. also known as blessed milk thistle, Marian Thistle, Mary Thistle and Saint Mary’s thistle.
In most parts of the world, milk thistle is considered an unwelcome weed. But many herbalists grow this plant for its medicinal properties. Herbal practitioners often prescribe milk thistle extract to protect the liver or to treat liver damage caused by hepatitis and other conditions. It’s thought this plant can both protect the liver against toxins, and also assist it in filtering toxins from the body.
There is also evidence that milk thistle extract offers protection in the case of accidental ingestion of a species of poison mushroom.
This herb is also believed to contain cancer-fighting compounds, and has been studied as a potential remedy in the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
Stinging Nettle as Medicine
Stinging nettle is a plant that loves moisture, and thrives in areas that receive a lot of rain. It’s long been used as a food source, and it contains an abundant amount of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, iron and calcium. But, before it’s eaten, little “stingers” must be removed from the leaves by boiling. The leaves must also be harvested early if they’re to be consumed. Otherwise, they are not considered safe to eat because they develop a compound that can irritate the urinary tract.
Where to Buy Stinging Nettle Tea
The potential uses of nettle are many. The scientific name for stinging nettle is urtica dioica. In Europe, this herb is used to treat arthritis, due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Steeped stinging nettle also has a long history as a folk remedy to address urinary and gastrointestinal problems, as well as arthritis and muscle aches. Nettle is also said to be a flu fighter. It’s one of the more popular remedies for hay fever, as it apparently contains natural anti-histamines.
I use stinging nettle as one of the weapons in my fight against chronic inflammation. It’s a very pleasant tasting tea, especially if it’s mixed with a little bit of honey. Here is the brand I have in my house, sold by a trusted American-based company.
These statements have not been approved by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use herbal medicine unless directed to do so by a healthcare professional. People with health concerns should consult with a doctor before taking herbal remedies.
I can’t stress enough that you should work with a forager to help identify herbs, to rule out any possibility of consuming a poisonous plant, as toxic look-alike plants may exist. Some of these plants are so poisonous that ingestion of any amount may lead to death.