There are some things in life that are just good to know, but like an insurance policy, you hope you’ll never come to need them. In this case, if you’re in a position where you’re stuck in the woodlands of North America, and you’ve picked up a nasty little illness, then it sure helps to know how to treat yourself with medicinal resources that are scattered all throughout the wild.
Nature sure can be tough on the body, but if you know what you’re doing, it can also become a welcome source of provision in your time of need.
Knowing how to locate, identify, process and administer wild medicinals has saved countless lives throughout history … long before Ibuprofen ever sat upon pharmacy shelves.
Of course, you will have to do your homework on this extensive topic in order to become proficient in using wild medicinals — especially if you’d like to get to the level at which it can save a life.
Surviving in the wild puts a major workload on the body, and if you’re simply trying to make it back to the civilized world, then a mere common cold could add just one more obstacle between you and getting home safe.
Or, if you’re camping in the outdoors, and you just so happened to forget to replenish a few “comfort” first-aid items since the last trip, then these options might offer you a viable solution to keep a little rash or tummy ache from ruining your stay in the backwoods.
1.Dandelion Root (Diuretic)
Let’s say you’ve eaten something that isn’t exactly sitting well, or you’re dealing with constipation and are in need of a laxative. Your solution to this problem is just about everywhere. In fact, they’re considered a “nuisance weed” in suburban neighborhoods when spring comes around: dandelions.
Since these are easily identifiable, and can basically be found everywhere there’s an open patch of grass in North America, then this is one of the easiest wild medicinals to locate and use in a pinch.
However, it’s the root that we’re after, given its ability to address digestive problems. Use it to make tea, and it becomes:
- A natural diuretic that can handle constipation.
- A way to clean out the digestive system.
- A method for healing for the liver, bringing down its inflammation.
Also, dandelion root can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute. And according to Amanda McQuade Crawford of BlessedHerbs.com, it can actually help stabilize insulin levels.
2. Jewelweed (Anti-Itch)
This wild medicinal has the power to keep a camping weekend from being ruined by a burning poison ivy rash or a skin-full of annoying bug bites, and is extremely common to find just about anywhere, from the US and into southern Canada. If you’re itching from bumbling into poison oak, then you can use jewelweed (impatiens capensis) to remedy the problem.
It can be found in humid, wooded areas, such as on the banks of streams and rivers. It thrives on moisture, so look for it in depressions and near water sources. Also, it blooms from May to October.
Simply crack or cut open the stem and rub the jewelweed’s oils on the affected area. This should give you a much-needed break from symptoms so you can get back to enjoying the woods.
3. Yarrow (Anti-Infection)
In the wild, cuts and punctures of all kinds can make for a very frightening scenario. If this happens, you not only need to stop the bleeding, but you need to clean the area. Infection can become a problem within hours.
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Yarrow (achillea millefolium) is one of the most common “weeds” all over the world, and it’s one of nature’s best provisions for the worst kinds of accidents (or battle wounds).
In fact, you can find yarrow anywhere between 3,500 feet to sea level — and really anywhere there is unmanicured grass growing. Chances are, if you’re not above the tree line, then there’s yarrow nearby.
This particular wild medicinal has an unbelievably wide variety of uses. However, it’s been nicknamed “soldier’s woundwort” for a very good reason: It’s saved the lives of an untold number of wounded soldiers throughout history. Not only does it have the ability to stop bleeding quickly, but it’s also antibacterial, and will prevent the onset of infection.
Yarrow is an absolute necessity for a bushcrafter or for improvised first-aid kit.
Sure, in a survival scenario, it can seem as though nature is mercilessly pounding your body with its notoriously brutal fists. But because of extremely common and useful plants and herbs like dandelions, jewelweed and yarrow, it’s just another way nature shows that it will give back to those who can identify its open hand.
What “weeds” do you use for improvised first-aid? Share your tips in the section below: