There are a number of plants grown in the wild that are commonly used as first aid if stranded or living off-grid. Here are seven options you can use until you can reach professional medical help.
1. Yarrow: Found growing wild all across the United States and Canada, Native American cultures commonly used yarrow as a medicine for its highly antimicrobial and anti-infectious properties. Yarrow can also be used to slow down bleeding. Steep yarrow gently into a tea and drink slowly to help with colds, muscle cramps, fevers, aches and pain, ulcers, and to open all your passages for easier breathing.
2. Elderberries & Flowers: We often see elderberry tea, but the flowers are even more powerful in aiding recovery from colds, flu and all respiratory concerns. Elder shrub flowers, when gently steeped and cooled, make a remarkable eye wash for pink eye or conjunctivitis and other eye irritations.
3. Aloe Vera: Native to Mexico and the Southwestern U.S., aloe vera plants can now be found in most people’s kitchens due to their abilities to quickly soothe burns, cuts, scrapes, rashes and skin irritations. The internal gel of the wide-bladed leaves is ideal for use in protecting and repairing the skin from overexposure to the sun and wind. Eat only the internal gel of the aloe vera to soothe all digestive system concerns, even constipation, diarrhea, ulcers, colitis, acid reflux and more. Remember to use only the plant’s internal gel, as some people react adversely to the outer leaf.
4. Common Mallow: This plant works by simply eating the leaves and flowers or making a tea out of the smashed roots and drinking it, treating everything related to sinus irritation, sore throats, congestion and stomach issues. Common mallow is rich in vitamins A and C, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron and selenium, making it a highly nutritious and delicious edible food. And the roots make a great organic toothbrush with its ability to decrease inflammation and infection.
5. Dandelion: This beautiful but annoying weed has superlative, medicinal and nutritional properties. Therapeutically, the whole plant, even the roots, can be eaten or made into a tea and enjoyed for improved digestion, reduced water retention and edema, as well as improved vision and reduced cataracts. Nutritionally, dandelion leaves are loaded with vitamins B1, B2, B6, C, E and K as well as minerals like potassium, phosphorus and magnesium.
6. Stinging Nettle: This common medicinal plant has been used for centuries across North America and Europe for everything from allergies and arthritis to metabolizing waste. Numerous studies have shown that stinging nettle strengthens our kidneys and lymphatic system, allowing us to gently and effectively release metabolic toxins, relieving inflammation, pain and swelling as well as toning our joints and muscles.
7. Plantain: Not the banana-like fruit, the common plantain weed can be found in yards and forests. The small silver-dollar-sized leaves work best. Soak them in water for about five minutes, apply them shiny side down directly on your wounds, and wrap with gauze or rags to secure in place. Repeat this process each morning and night to stave off infection. Plantain rapidly draws infection and inflammation from wounds, strains and sprains due to its high concentration of allantoin and its ability to break up bacterial biofilms and prevent venom from stings and bites from taking you down.
- RELATED STORY: How to Use Nature’s Soap Plants
- RELATED STORY: Survival on the Fly: Natural Antiseptics for Treating Wounds & Cuts
This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE™ Spring 2016 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.