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Medicinal Plants

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Just like most people, I’ve got a convenient cabinet full of bottles and bubble packs of pills that come in hand when my head hurts or my GI system gets upset over something. I’m not terribly interested in giving up the stuff in my medicine cabinet, but like any good Prepper, I know there may come a day when allergy pills and aspirin aren’t being churned out and distributed around the country by the semi load. Part of learning how to stay well and comfortable in an emergency, especially a long-term emergency, involves learning a little bit about how things were done before pharmaceuticals were widely available.

Before modern pharmaceuticals came medicinal plants (and yes, some snake oil). But fortunately we’ve had a hundred years or so to do scientific tests on medicinal plants and find out what’s effective, what can be harmful and what’s total bunk. A comprehensive, modern book will give you a broad picture of medicinal plants, their uses and any potential side effects. Such a up-to-date guide on medicinal herbs, preferably with photographs of the plants, or at least with very detailed drawings can be a good addition to your emergency kit. Remember, anyone can write and publish a book so consider getting yours from a reputable author who has a scientific background.

The good news is that medicinal plants usually aren’t fragile or precious. Many of them grow wild and the rest are easily grown in containers in a range of geographies. In fact, not long ago a small medicinal garden along side the family vegetable garden was quite common. Here are 10 easy plants that should be basic staples in a Prepper garden*:

  • Aloe vera – used topically to heal burns
  • Basil – antacid
  • Blackberry – leaves used to prevent dysentery and as an anti-inflamatory
  • Catnip – for indigestion, migraines and to slow bleeding (and amuses the cat)
  • Chamomile – an easily grown miniature daisy used as a sleep aid
  • Feverfew – anti-inflammatory for headaches, arthritis
  • Garlic – antibacterial, fights symptoms of cold and flu, may reduce cholesterol
  • Mint – for nausea, indigestion, colds, also antibacterial
  • Parsley – for digestion
  • Sage – aids digestion, dries up phlegm, fights colds, reduces inflammation and swelling, acts as a salve for cuts and burns, and kills bacteria

*Before using any of these, make sure you know their potential side effects

Medicinal plants aren’t hard to grow, most are hardy and need little attention. Do a little homework to make sure you know what’s safe and what isn’t, then consider adding a few of these common remedies to your garden. Just in case.

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