As I started venturing into emergency preparedness, I started noticing a common topic in many prep groups that people are asking about is, “what will I do if I can’t get my medicine from the pharmacy?”. There are always a few who suggest learning about different herbs that can replace the medication along with ways to heal the ailment that requires medication in the first place.
First, let me start off by saying that I am not a doctor or medical professional in any way, but I do encourage each person to do their own research and learn as much as they can so that when crap hits the fan, you can be prepared and more self-reliant.
Why natural medicine?
About ten years ago, our family had an experience that started a major shift in the way we lived. Our oldest had a reaction to a pharmaceutical drug within an hour of his first dose and his poor little body was covered in splotchy hives and he spiked a fever of 105°F. I had never witnessed such a fast reaction, so I called into his doctor’s office. The nurse was concerned about the fast reaction and pulled the doctor from another appointment to talk to me. Unfortunately, my concerns were thrown to the wayside, and he told me don’t worry about it, it was normal. Don’t worry? This is my baby; how can I not be worried? From this point forward, my trust in others, especially in the medical community faded.
This experience led us to research all sorts of side effects of different medications as well as alternatives. My best friend added me to a couple of different groups that also helped guide me in my journey of learning about natural medicine or as some call it, alternative medicine. While you can find so much info online, my favorite thing to do is to go to a bookstore and check out the section on alternative medicine. You can find books on everything from herbs, essential oils, homeopathy, and so much more.
Natural medicines are all around
A few years ago, we were counting down the days till my brother’s wedding. As our family was walking out of the store, my daughter spotted a penny on the ground and spun around to get it. Unfortunately, she tripped on her own two feet scraping up her forehead and nose pretty well. We took her home and cleaned up her face. Hoping it would help, I put some Neosporin on the scrapes for the next three days…. nothing. There was no sign of any healing whatsoever. I remembered reading about a weed that is commonly found in people’s backyards that is good for cuts and scrapes. I jumped online and found it, Plantain. Mind you, the only plantain I’d ever heard of before was the fruit. I grabbed my phone and pulled a picture of this weed up and went outside to look for some. I ended up finding some and followed a recipe to make a salve. The next day when the salve was done, I rubbed some on her forehead. We had five days left to get this fully healed and miraculously, this amazing plant was working. We could visibly see a difference each day. By day five, it was pretty much healed which I felt was such a blessing.
Another remedy we’ve found is Stinging Nettles. Each spring Alex’s allergies get bad. Over the years he’s taken all sorts of meds including Claritin, Singulair, and even Sudafed D. All of these have a long list of side effects that we were no longer comfortable with. I knew there had to be something more natural that could help. That was when I found the information on stinging nettles. First, we tried organic stinging nettle tea. It seemed to be helping with the day-to-day allergies but getting out and doing yard work or working in the garden still caused issues. Next, we ordered the stinging nettle capsules and they seemed to help even more. We were grateful to find a resource without a long list of nasty side effects.
Before my grandparent’s farm was sold, I discovered an ample supply of stinging nettle plants all over. I watched multiple videos on harvesting stinging nettle leaves. I learned that the little barbs on the leaves and stem can go right through my gardening gloves. Next, I tried using the long kitchen gloves and those worked so much better. I also learned that using a pair of scissors and a bag or bucket, the nettles could be easily collected without ever having to touch the plant so long as it wasn’t windy.
So where do you start when there are so many amazing plants out there? First, I’d say pick a direction. You could always pick up a book and start learning about individual plants and herbs one at a time. I personally like to cross-reference between multiple sources to make sure I’m finding accurate information. Another option is basing your research on a health issue that you’d like to work on healing.
Personally, I would start with researching my health issues first. Grab a book or two and look up what herbs help with healing from the inside out. Cross-reference everything with different sources.
At first, I found it worrisome to find all sorts of conflicting information, but I eventually learned how to sort out a reliable source from those that were questionable. For example, one source may say that essential oils are safe to use internally and undiluted while others say that only certain ones can be used ‘neat’ or in other words undiluted. I came to find that while some can be used internally, doing so without proper knowledge of proper dosing can cause damage to different organs. Obviously, this isn’t something I would want for myself or my family.
Starting with books
I do have favorite books and authors I would recommend. The first is Rosemary Gladstar. Rosemary is an herbalist and owner of Science and Art of Herbalism (www.ScienceandArtofHerbalism.com). I was introduced to her work by a lady at church who had been taking Rosemary’s courses.
I later found her book Herbs for Children’s Health at our local library when we were living out at the coast. I also own a copy of Herbs for Long-Lasting Health. I would love to continue collecting her other books as I am able to find them because her understanding of different herbs is such a great resource to have on hand.
The second author I recommend is Nicole Apelian. A few years ago, I heard her story and was amazed at how blessed we are to have the ability to heal through the herbs that God has given us. After receiving her degree in biology, she went on to get a master’s in Ecology and Doctorate as an anthropologist and ethnobotanist.
In 2000, she was shockingly diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and was left bedridden. She used her knowledge to change her lifestyle and is back to living a fulfilling and healthy life. She went on to write the book, The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies together with Claude Davis. While this book is not cheap, it is packed with so much information that it is well worth the value. It not only goes over so many different herbs and spices but also how to use them and what to use them for.
If you want a book that teaches you more about overall healthy living rather than learning about each individual herb, then the 1001 Natural Remedies by Laurel Vukovic might be just the book for you. It goes over different things like arthritis, sinusitis, ear infections and so much more. It also contains recipes for beauty, home, and even your four-legged friends.
Finding online resources
There are so many resources at our fingertips these days. On top of books, we have the world wide web and multiple different search engines. You can also find social media groups with lots of knowledgeable people who can give you guidance and resources.
Collecting natural remedies
I’m not going to lie, starting my stash of natural remedies has been overwhelming. I always think that I should get one thing which leads to five more, so where do you start? I was blessed to be introduced to homeopathy by a friend shortly after our oldest was born. She brought me a tube of the Arnicare gel and some of the Arnica pellets to help with my back. Since then, I have always kept Arnica on hand both in the form of gel and the 30c pellets. I also keep the 200c pellets on hand for trauma and after giving birth. Over the last few years, I have collected some other homeopathic remedies for different needs we’ve had.
Herbs and supplements are easy to grab. We order a lot of ours from Amazon or we get them at Fred Meyer. Some things we keep on hand are activated charcoal for stomach bugs and food poisoning; Beta 1,3/1,6- D-Glucan for immune support; stinging nettle in both tea and capsules for seasonal allergy relief; Vitex for balancing female hormone levels; Probiotics for helping with gut health.
The list of things you could have on hand is never-ending but starting with a few and continue expanding. You can also grow many of your own herbs and dry them yourself.
Essential oils are readily available from so many sources these days. I have bought multiple different brands, but I look for something made with pure oils and not fillers.
When crap hits the fan, it won’t be a hop, skip, and a jump down to the local drug store to grab what we need. We each need to work towards being prepared, both physically and knowledge-based now, and not wait till it’s too late hoping that we can rely on our neighbor to take care of our needs.