Imagine a post-disaster world where there were no pharmacies to fill your medicinal prescriptions. People with certain medical diagnoses would almost certainly perish in fairly short order. A diabetic with no access to insulin, for example, might not make it very long after running out of it.
The wise prepper stocks up on over-the-counter (OTC) medications before an emergency arises. Watch for sales and stock up on any cold or flu products you normally use, plus extra pain relievers like aspirin or Tylenol, antihistamines like Benadryl, antispasmodics, and anti-diarrheal like Imodium.
In a post-apocalyptic world, these items would be very valuable for trading. Be sure you store medications in a cool, dry place, rotate the stock, and observe expiration dates.
People who take prescription drugs can ask their doctor to order an extra 90-day supply (or more). You can even stockpile antibiotics legally and without a prescription. You can get two antibiotics, amoxicillin and penicillin, from a veterinarian or farm supply store. They are found in FishMox (has amoxicillin) or FishPen (has penicillin).
It turns out that farm and veterinarian pharmaceuticals are chemically identical to their counterparts sold to humans so this is a great way to ensure survival from an infected cut. The sparing use of cached medications to heal common conditions is worth the extra effort and expense to acquire.
But many health conditions can be treated with natural plants. After all, these same plants gave rise to modern pharmacology. For example, bark from the willow tree contains the pain reliever salicin which is the active ingredient in aspirin.
If you could no longer pop down to your neighborhood drugstore, growing your own medicine could save your life. Many physical conditions have known natural treatments and remedies. People with a wide range of symptoms can get help from the plant kingdom, including:
- High blood pressure
- Type II diabetes
- Chronic pain
- Alzheimer’s disease/dementia
Fresh herbs can be dried, made into teas (infused in almost-boiling water), or tinctured (extracted with alcohol). Here are five herbal treatments you can grow at home, in a pot indoors or outside in the garden:
- Peppermint (Mentha x Piperita)
Peppermint is stronger than its sibling spearmint. Minty tea is known to ease stomach and digestive disorders like an upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting. It soothes sore muscles when applied directly to the skin as a liquid, lotion, cream, or salve.
Mint plants thrive in moist ground. They grow naturally near creeks and other damp places. Once established, they are hard to get rid of so plant with that in mind.
- Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
Mullein is a very distinctive weed that grows tall in beaten-down areas like beside a path or roadway. The leaves are fuzzy and pale green. The flowers are shocking yellow rosettes clustered around the top of a sturdy stalk.
Both the leaves and flowers are used to soothe the lungs and treat respiratory infections such as coughing, weak lungs, constricted breathing, and chest colds. Medicinally, mullein is an expectorant that removes excess mucus from the lungs while coating the mucous membranes with a slippery emollient.
- Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
Commonly known as the marigold, calendula has been known for ages as an antifungal, antiseptic, and antibacterial. It is great for making natural cosmetics and diaper cream. Some people use it to treat acne and eczema.
Although calendula is an annual flowering plant, it reseeds itself freely and thrives in full sun. The blooms close in the evening. You can pick off flower petals or dry the entire flower head. The flowers can be steeped in hot water and taken as a tea. Tinctures and capsules are also good delivery methods.
- Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon balm is a pretty addition to any garden with important health benefits. The aromatic leaves and flowers contain oils, tannins, and bitters that relax the mind and muscles. It calms the stomach and the nerves – and hyperactive children. Applied topically to the skin, it can be effective against herpes simplex (cold sores). Chew on a leaf to freshen the breath or crush and place on an insect bite to reduce the itch.
Lemon balm is easy to grow and, as a bonus, it attracts bees to pollinate the garden. Like other mints, it will try to overtake the garden. It likes warm weather and rich soil. If you cut it back, it grows back twice as thick.
- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary plants look like little pine trees because they are! The woody herb came from the Mediterranean area and is steeped (if you will) in ancient lore. Prized for its healing properties, dried rosemary in a cloth bag, sachet, or potpourri is an excellent aromatherapy treatment. The oil has stimulant properties and is thought to strengthen memory, focus, and clear thinking. The astringent and antibacterial qualities of rosemary make it a beneficial addition to oral health products like mouthwash.
It takes rosemary a year to two to put down firm roots and establish itself so be patient. It can grow as tall as 4 feet and measure 6-8 feet across so allow enough garden space. The pretty, small flowers – blue, white, pink, or purple – bloom twice: in late winter and early spring. The blossom-covered stems are a beautiful sight and a favorite of hummingbirds.
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There are many more plants that are easy to grow and medicinally valuable. Don’t wait for the worst to happen: start a garden or a few flower pots now with some plants that have useful properties for you and your family. Practice harvesting, drying, and preserving the plants before disaster strikes. Add more types of plants as your mastery grows – along with your home-grown medicine chest.