Are the best medicines found in nature? The right herbal remedies could make the difference between a full recovery or a slow and tragic death to an injury, infection, illness, or disease following a long term disaster.
Here are 15 clinically proven herbs and supplements to know about beforehand.
Though countless studies and first person testimonials from people around the world show that herbal remedies can treat a large number of medical conditions, whether that means clinically proven or not is up to each reader here to decide (we have provided a number of links to articles that show compelling evidence as to a herb’s reported effectiveness).
Two things you should look for when considering herbs
1. Herbs that have received a high number of positive reviews (sites such as Amazon have more mechanisms in place to reduce chances of false reviews, though some may still sneak in so be discerning).
2. Cross check a herb with a major website such as WebMD.com to read what if any are reported issues with a specific herb. Several herbs are considered safe for use and WebMD.com will tell you that. Other herbs can have side effects and or interactions with other meds or herbs you may be taking; WebMD.com will tell you that also. Those would be the herbs typically to stay away from. When there are so many different herbs that do so many different things, why take chances with a herb that can have side effects?
Avoid the side effects and avoid those herbs!
Do Herbal Remedies Work?
High blood pressure, toothache, knee and back pain – these are just some of the conditions we have to deal with as we age. Right now we have pharmacies full of pills and liquid concoctions produced by pharmaceutical companies for every imaginable disease — but what will we do post-collapse?
We should look at what our ancestors and our great-grandfathers used to do, to take back the knowledge of herbal medicine and learn to use a few common yet extremely effective herbs and supplements to alleviate our pain and improve our health.
Herbs have been used effectively by people around the world for thousands of years, with the first written accounts of their usage for medicinal purposes dating back to ancient Mesopotamia. Egypt, China, India, Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece, all of them had a wealth of knowledge on various medicinal plants.
Though we don’t have written records for native peoples living in North and South America from several centuries ago, we do know that they also had a great deal of knowledge when it came to using the medicinal properties of specific plants. How do we know this? Because many people, explorers, settlers and other Europeans who crossed the Atlantic to America had good relationships at times with Native Americans who demonstrated the healing power of plant medicine on several occasions.
Herbal Medicine and the U.S. Army Special Forces
Sam Coffman, a former U.S. Army Special Forces Green Beret medic, has a complete survival school on the topic of herbal medicine, and we have had the courtesy of having two excellent articles on herbal medicine written for SecretsofSurvival.com by Sam Coffman personally.
Herbal medicine, when used correctly, can treat ailments better and often with little or no side effects at all, compared to traditional “Western medicine” that has been concocted in a lab of pharmaceutical chemists and lab animals with any number of artificial ingredients that can have devastating effects in some people.
What Happens When Hospitals and Pharmacies Are No More?
If the day should come where we experience a collapse of government and infrastructure, what are people doing to do when hospitals and pharmacies close their doors for good and prescription drugs are a thing of the past?
We will have to go back to the land — literally. Thankfully, it appears that much of the land has been designed to give us everything we need to survive.
Now, I don’t know whether you’re looking to grow these herbs in your backyard, to buy them as supplements or even dry them yourself. The main thing is that you act now as opposed to later. When disaster strikes, there won’t be any time to experiment or buy extra preps.
Should You Grow Herbs Yourself?
Starting a garden and figuring out how to use the herbs on yourself is something that takes time, implies a learning curve and you making mistakes. Talk to your physician, of course, and let him or her keep an eye out when you start using those herbs (or supplements) on yourself. You don’t want to be caught unprepared because, when disaster strikes, you don’t know if you’ll have access to this kind of information. Best to make and learn from your mistakes now rather than later. Essential books on herbal medicine include:
#1. Garlic (Allium sativum) – Garlic 3 Pack Organic, Non-GMO Bulbs for Planting, Growing
I put garlic at the top of the list (despite the fact that it’s not considered an herb) because it’s extremely powerful in alleviating and helping treat a number of health issues and is easy to grow, along with a number of herbs listed here. In fact, there’s an entire list of little miracles garlic can do for you, including:
1. Fighting flu and colds
2. Alleviating dental pain (mix with salt and chew)
3. Treating various skin diseases including acne
4. Reduce pain from arthritis
5. Fight tumors
6. Reduce blood glucose concentration
7. … and even hair regrowth (research that one in your spare time — it’s too much detail to go into here and a bit off the topic of herb medicine)
Should you grow garlic? Here are a few good reasons to consider:
Garlic is one of those plants that’s really easy to grow, indoor or outdoor, and is frost resistant. 2 – 3 garlic plants can go a long way for producing ongoing “plant medicine” to help you and family members maintain optimal health, when those pharmacies have closed their doors for good. Remember, you don’t need to eat much garlic to reap the rewards of garlic’s health properties.
Garlic powder is what works for your survival stockpile because it has a shelf life of 3-4 years and it’s dirt cheap buy it in online. Experts claim that the most benefits of garlic though are found in the raw cloves, but even so a good garlic oil pill can still go a long way. Have all your bases covered by growing a couple small garlic plants and stocking up on garlic powder and garlic oil pills.
Keep in mind that if you maintain optimal health, you’ll never need to seek a doctor. Blood pressure goes down, colds and flues can be a thing of the past, and arthritis (if not in the advanced stages) may disappear entirely. Lowering blood glucose also means avoiding diabetic complications down the road, as well as a reduction in inflammation throughout the body.
It’s widely known today that inflammation is the root of many diseases; BodyEcology.com says it this way: “Garlic has long been a folk remedy for colds and illness, and its anti-inflammatory properties are amazing! Garlic contains sulfur compounds that stimulate your immune system to fight disease.”
#2. Marigold (Calendula) – Calendula Oil
Anyone serious about his or her herb garden needs to consider marigold. The Egyptians thought it rejuvenated the skin and they were spot on. Marigold can take good care of your skin by acting against rashes, inflammations, eczema and even ulcers.
The thing about Marigolds is they need plenty of sunshine but the good news is they can grow in pretty much any type of soil and they grow FAST. To use them, you first have to make calendula oil from the petals or, you can go the easy way and get oil or cream online.
#3. Cordyceps – Cordyceps
Cordyceps has it’s roots in Chinese and Tibetan medicine and works on several systems in the body for improving energy levels (by boosting ATP, which declines as people age), boosting heart health, boosting oxygen uptake, and improving the respiratory system overall. Of course this has been noticed by athletes and cordyceps is now a common health supplement taken in the United States with many people discovering first hand how good cordyceps can be for improving health (and those energy levels that tend to signify good health).
Cordyceps also has biochemical compounds that work at reducing the tumors that cause the spread of cancer, making it easier to put it into remission or eliminate cancer altogether. Finally, by working as an overall booster to your health, cordyceps helps slow the aging process, helping us have more energy and be more productive as the years go by.
#4. Aloe Vera – Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is well known for it’s advanced healing properties for treating burns. If you’ve just gotten out of a house fire and need to apply first aid to yourself or someone else, a little aloe vera gel can go a long way. The Egyptians were the first ones (we know of) to use this plant in a variety cases, including medical treatment.
Aloe Vera should only be used as gel, so you either buy it from the store or you grow your own and then make the gel like so. You’ll find that it’s easy to it grow indoors and that it needs little water. In fact, it’s recommended until you see that the soil has completely dried out.
Finally, aloe vera is also known for treating digestive issues when it comes to things like irritated stomachs and or intestinal tracts caused by a food or substance that you’ve ingested that your body doesn’t agree with. In the end, aloe vera helps to alleviate the pains that certain foods can cause.
#5. Ginseng – Korean Ginseng
Ginseng is originally from China and Korea so, as you might expect, it’s been widely used for thousands of years to alleviate numerous medical issues. Some of the things that Pubmed assures it can alleviate include:
1. Insomnia (falling asleep might be a problem post-collapse)
4. Shortness of breath
5. …and more
As far as growing it in your garden, keep in mind it needs a few years from the moment you cultivate it to the moment you harvest it.
Finally, Ginseng (especially Korean Ginseng) is known as a natural energy booster; experts have recommended that it be taken along with Cordyceps (mentioned above) to boost ATP levels, and that of course can bring a big boost to overall energy. Boosting ATP is good and natural (Adenosine 5′-triphosphate, or ATP, is the principal molecule for storing and transferring energy in cells).
Drinking coffee and energy drinks on the other hand is not so good, no so natural, and can leave us burned out, leading to an energy crash (or another cup of coffee to stave off that crash for later in the day).
People who want to quit drinking coffee may find that the combination of Korean Ginseng and Cordyceps will beat the fatigue allowing a person to kick a long time habit of coffee consumption.
#6. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) – Rosemary (Leaves)
Once again, Ancient Egypt led the way and were the first to use rosemary. Grow it and use it yourself to:
1. Alleviate stomach cramps (if you happen to eat the wrong survival food; several studies have shown that Rosemary inhibits food-borne pathogens like Listeria monocytogenes, B. cereus, and S. aureus)
2. Boost the immune system
3. Improve memory and focus
4. Fight Cancer (The University of Maryland Medical Center writes: “Several studies suggest that rosemary extract may inhibit tumor growth by preventing cancerous cells from replicating. One study found that rosemary, on its own and in combination with curcumin, helped prevent breast cancer.
A second study found similar effects of rosemary on colon cancer cells”).
4. … and reduce hair loss that comes with aging (when taken as a topical oil); Rosemary is reported to be able to stimulate hair growth.
Speaking of which, growing Rosemary is fairly easy, though Rosemary plants do need sunlight; they also need to be kept indoors during winter and given plenty of water.
#7. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) – Ginger Root
Due to a substance called gingerol, this little perennial has numerous health benefits, including:
1. Preventing cancerous cells from expanding (proof)
2. Treat nausea and sea sickness (for those of you who’ll bugging out to the sea)
3. Lowering blood sugar levels
4. Fix indigestion
5. It has an anti-inflammatory effect
6. … and has an overall action of boosting the immune system
The great thing about ginger is that it requires very little maintenance, except for when you plant and harvest it. The other great thing is that it’s easy to grow indoors, as part of your survival garden. It grows very well in partial shade but does need moist soil. You can make tea, you can make soup, you can can it, you can even eat it raw.
#8. Echinacea – Echinacea
Another plant that can grow anywhere, only this one hasn’t been first used by the Egyptians. This time, it was the Native Americans who used it first, the Plains Indians to be exact. It’s also one of the most popular supplements in the United States today – not something you want to skip when planning your herb garden.
It can treat a variety of medical issues, starting with the common cold. It’s of great help for boosting the immune system and is also great against headaches, stomach cramps and toothaches.
#9. Yarrow (achillea millefolium) – Yarrow
Though the Greek myth about Achilles using yarrow to make himself invulnerable may not be true, yarrow can help you with cold, fever, cramps, stomach ache and, more importantly, with slow healing wounds. Women have also used it for treating problems with menstrual bleeding.
You can forage for it because you won’t have trouble finding it, it’s practically everywhere. This also means that it’s easy to grow but you must ensure that you’ll begin to grow it before disaster strikes, not after. The only thing to keep in mind is that the plant needs a lot of sun to grow but, other than that, you don’t need to worry about it.
You can, of course, find yarrow powder, capsules and extracts on the web and some local health stores may carry it, if they have an extensive amount of products on their shelves.
Tip: It’s hard to find a health food store that carries a huge selection of herbs as well as the best brand for each herb. That is another way that the web has health stores beat currently. You can read reviews — the best ones are unbiased and legitimate reviews — and go with respected brands, to be on the safe side. In the world of herbs, there are several companies that rip people off by selling poor quality products or even false products all together that can do more harm then good. Major online retailers give us the chance to see how these products are working for others before we buy, as well as what people say about the companies that are making these herbs. I have seen many good herbs come from Amazon, herbs I never would have gave a chance to otherwise if I had not read reviews first.
#10. Basil (Ocilum basilicum) – Basil
Another plant that grows across the U.S. and Europe, basil has been used by the Greeks and the Persians and Indians.
Because it is rich in essential oils, basil is a good anti-inflammatory, helps digestion, counteracts bloating and reduces blood pressure (proof). It’s also something women can use after childbirth. According to WebMD, it helps restore proper blood flow circulation as well as help with the production of breast milk.
#11. Plantain (Plantago major) – Plantain
This is by far one of the most common plants found around the globe. Native Americans knew it well, as history reports, which their name for plantain was “Snake Weed”, and it was a common herb used for healing from many ailments. Plantain is so common, in fact, that you may be able to find it in your own back yard. It’s great for wounds, rashes, stings and snake bites (though I highly recommend you seek a doctor when possible or, at the very least use a snake bite kit if something happens; like anything else, if you have no experience treating a snakebite with plantain, you might not use it correctly; so either have a snake bit kit, seek a doctor if possible, or learn how to use plantain to treat a snakebite beforehand).
Besides making a poultice from its leaves, you can make tea, infusion and tincture from plantain. Plantain is chock-full of micronutrients such as vitamins A and C and calcium, not to mention other substances such as allatonin and aucubin, which help your body boost cellular growth and fight microbes.
#12. Marshmallow (Althea officinalis) – Marshmallow Root
The Egyptians used the root to treat sore throats, and it’s also great for respiratory problems such as bronchitis. Also works well if you have indigestion, diarrhea and even ulcer.
It can grow in sun, shade or both as long as the soil is moist. Keep in mind that it may take 2-3 years for it to produce big enough roots (which should be collected either in the fall or spring). If you’re looking to grow it, the sooner you start the better.
#13. Dandelion (Taraxacum) – Dandelion
Although it’s widespread across the Globe, the dandelion isn’t your regular medicinal herb. It’s not an anti-inflammatory and doesn’t help you with coughing. Unlike the others we discussed, it helps vital organs such as your liver, your spleen and your pancreas, making it a fantastic addition to your survival garden or your stockpile. Plus, it also has great antioxidants can regulate blood sugar levels and cholesterol.
Dandelion parts (roots and leaves) have been used since ancient times by Arabs, Indians, Chinese, Romans and Greeks alike. It’s extremely versatile when it comes to climates and temperatures, though, if you choose to plant it, you need to give it as much sun as possible.
If you’d just rather stock up, you’ll find dandelion in various forms online and possibly at your local health food stores, but if you’d just rather consume the plant directly, know that you can add its leaves straight to your salad, infuse them to make tea or roast its roots to make a beverage which tastes like coffee.
#14. Peppermint (M. balsamea) – Peppermint
According to Wikipedia, both Greek and Roman noblemen used peppermint to make crowns that they would wear at feasts and that they also used it to give flavor to wine and sauces. It’s still a mystery whether they knew about its long list of health benefits, including:
2. Painful Digestive Issues
4. Memory issues
5. Prostate cancer
6. Radiation damage (in case you don’t have iodine capsules)
8. …and more. Peppermint can be grown anywhere as long as it doesn’t have to take too much heat from the sun. Its leaves can be consumed all throughout the year and you’ll be happy to know they are rich in copper, manganese and vitamin C.
A few more things to note about Peppermint oil – While peppermint leaves can be eaten as a herb, the oil that can be made from peppermint has multiple uses: It is a natural insect repellant. Not only that, but it also helps to keep fleas, mice, spiders, ants, roaches and rodents away. This makes peppermint oil a very useful tool for a long term survival scenario, if society suffers a collapse, and now a lack of insecticides and community pest control mean a lot more bugs, roaches, mice and fleas to deal with. For that reason, depending on where you live (wet, warm, or humid areas especially where seasonal bugs and rodents can be a problem), it may be a good idea to have a supply of peppermint oil on hand.
The last thing you want is an army of roaches and mice making a beeline for your food stores.
As far as the actual herb is concerned, you can grow it yourself and also have several bottles of a capsule supplement on hand for specific health issues.
Tip: The capsule form of peppermint is intended to be used differently and for different purposes than peppermint oil.
This is an important point to note. To treat those headaches in the list above, peppermint oil is applied topically, from what some report. The peppermint capsules, on the other hand, would be swallowed according to instructions on the bottle to treat issues with prostate, painful digestion, etc.
As a tea: Peppermint leaves are regularly used for making tea — a tea reported to have numerous health benefits. But this is also a herb that some people may be allergic to, though some reports are it may be a mild allergy.
Herbs: Be sure to check more than one source
Always check more than one source on the effectiveness of a herb, even those listed here. Though WebMD.com may not fully endorse a specific herb, they do a good job (from what I can tell from past research) of providing warnings about possible side effects and dosing. Bottom line: Leading Naturopathic websites (and occasional stories that make the news) can point you to a good herb; further research is necessary so that you can determine:
Is the herb eaten or used topically?
What is the correct dose?
Can it be taken during pregnancy? (very important, if you’re pregnant)
Can it be frozen to extend the shelf life? (for example, fresh cilantro can be frozen, which has a positive effect on blood sugar and it can also prevent gas when eaten with problem foods).
Can the actual herb be dried out and or canned or packaged for long term storage? (5 – 10 years for example)
#15. Thyme – Thyme
Last but not least, thyme was used in ancient Greeks and was even mentioned by Hippocrates in his writings. Careful, though, it’s a very powerful plant and should be used with care.
The essential oil from this plant is a great antiseptic. This is actually one of the ingredients of mouthwash. In fact, you can make your own mouthwash at home using this and other plants.
Besides removing bacteria from your mouth, you can use thyme against fever, headaches, eczema, for a sore throat, you can even use it as a local anesthetic.
Like peppermint oil, Thyme oil, depending on the brand, may be for topical use only (so read the directions fully before use), or as an antiseptic, is a mouthwash that is intended to be spit out. For that reason, it may be something that would help prevent infection if used correctly following any kind of emergency dental procedure.
Before using it on the skin for any reason, it’s said that thyme oil should be diluted with a carrier oil, such as olive oil. Thyme oil may be too intense for your skin to be applied directly; but by diluting it down with olive oil (or another carrier oil), it is less likely to cause irritation.
Herbal Remedies Have Worked for a Lot of People – But Exercise Caution
If you currently are on prescription medication, it is important to research how your specific medication can interact with a specific herbal supplement, before you start combining the two. Some prescription medicines act as diuretics and others act as blood thinners for example.
Now, an important point to make: A number of herbs and supplements can also act as diuretics and or blood thinners.
Thus, you may need to let your doctor know you want to get on a herbal supplement so that your doctor can possibly (if he or she is willing) start dosing you down, while you start slowly adding a very small amount of a herb or supplement to your health regiment. Monitor yourself closely and or have your doctor monitor you also as you dose down and gradually begin adding the herb.
Consider Advice from a Certified Naturopathic Doctor
If your current doctor doesn’t believe or appreciate the medicinal power of certain plants, he or she may not be too excited to encourage your course of action. Many doctors are from an “old-school” medical establishment and still following instruction from decades past, or instruction that may be influenced by pharmaceutical companies that may be paying your doctor money each time he puts someone on a certain pill (that is one of the horrors of the pharmaceutical industry; many are driven by money rather than the common good, and today we are flooded with high costs for prescription drugs that are only a band aid, keeping people on these pills for years or decades at a time rather than ever curing people.
Really — what incentive do pharmaceutical companies have for finding cures? If they cure a disease with a pill, then, once cured, people will no longer need their pills. There is no money in that! So, that is probably one reason why we have so many prescription medications on the market with so many side effects that people need to take indefinitely).
Warning: Just because someone calls themselves naturopathic or holistic in their approach to health, doesn’t mean that they fully have their wits about them. Stay far away from any who also advertise “spiritual enlightenment”, etc., to go along with their holistic approaches to health. These are the same tactics “witch doctors” around the globe have used in their approach to curing ills.
They may know and understand plant medicine, but once they start combining it with “spiritual enlightenment,” realize that is getting into the occult.
Tip: After dosing down from prescription meds and gradually increasing your dosing of a medicinal herb(s), optimally, within a few weeks or months, you may be able to stop taking a prescription medication altogether and finally treat your condition fully with a natural herb, possibly seeing your health condition “cured” in time. Be sure to consult with your doctor; if your doctor is not willing to work with you, perhaps it’s time to find a new doctor that is willing to give the naturopathic use of herbs a try.
When used correctly, and not recklessly, herbs can be extremely effective when prescription or over the counter medicines have failed.