If you’re living off-grid, away from medical facilities, or just like the healing properties nature can offer, you can find free herbal medicine right outside your door. I’m sure many of you have walked by these very same plants thousands of times and never even realized what they could do!
I have a long history with conventional medicine and allergies. More than a handful of times I ended up in the hospital due to a reaction from the treatment for an illness. Should the cure be worse than the illness? Well, my mother didn’t think so. She turned to nature for my herbal first aid and I’ve been using herbs ever since.
One of the best parts about herbal medicine? Generally, it’s free and can be found right outside your door!
Herbs and Weeds for Medicine
Herbs and weeds have been used for medicine since the beginning of mankind. As a matter of fact, herbs are still the building blocks for many conventional medicines.
Herbal remedies existed thousands of years before modern medicine, still, there are very few clinical trials supporting their effectiveness.
From the University of Minnesota “It is likely that humans have used plants as medicine for as long as we have existed. Archeological excavations dated as early as 60,000 years ago have found remains of medicinal plant”
Free Herbal Medicine
Although I mention the word ‘medicine’ the translation should be knowledge. If you learn about these herbs, how to properly identify them and their medical use, you can apply that knowledge when you need it.
Herbal medicine is the study or practice of the medicinal and therapeutic use of plants; herbalism. Even though herbs are natural, they are not without their side effects, make sure you check with your primary health care professional before ingesting any herb for medicine.
Especially if you are mixing herbs with drugs that have been prescribed as they can have an adverse effect.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of medicinal herbs available in nature. However, I’m going to go over just a couple of the herbal treatments used in basic first aid.
Although you can use the dried plants, it is best freshly fresh picked herbs whenever possible. All of these herbs can be found in the United States and in most parts of the world.
The best part? All of this is free herbal medicine!
Minor Burns and Scrapes
Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) is the one and only plant that I seem to have a green thumb with. Incidentally, it is the first herb I ever recall using as a child.
Often seen in many homes as a decorative plant, Aloe Vera is effective in treating minor burns, sunburns, and scrapes.
Aloe Vera is an evergreen succulent that grows wild in tropical climates around the world. In colder climates, Aloe Vera can be grown indoors as potted plants.
Aloe contains active compounds that help reduce inflammation and pain. These active compounds help stimulate skin growth and repair, in addition to acting as a moisturizing agent.
Medical studies have shown that burns treated with aloe healed quicker than burns treated with silver sulfadiazine.
Bleeding and Cuts
Legend has it that yarrow was named after Achilles, the Greek mythical hero who used it to stop the bleeding in his soldiers’ wounds.
Recently after a construction accident, my husband had a wound on his foot that nearly reached the bone. Unable to get to the doctors, I applied a Yarrow compress and was able to get the bleeding under control until we could get medical attention.
We have used yarrow several times through the years to treat wounds and stop bleeding with much success.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a common weed that can often be found growing on the sides of the road. Yarrow Achillea millefolium tends to grow best in sunny and warm climates. However, I’ve had success growing it in my shade garden as well.
Through numerous devices – clotting, unclotting, neurovascular control, flavonoids, etc. – yarrow regulates the flow of blood to and from the surface, in and out of the capillaries and venules, thickening and thinning. Through this it cures all manner of wounds, bruises, hemorrhaging, and clotting.
I rarely harvest yarrow for storage because it grows all year in my climate. When it’s needed, I go outside, properly identify it, harvest it and apply it for my medical need.
I bet you’ve walked by this herb thousands of times without even realizing it, but Plantain is the perfect treatment to bites and stings.
Plantain (Plantago major) has astringent properties that help reduce swelling and draw out the toxins from the bite.
When our daughter was just a couple of years old she was playing with some wind-chimes. Little did I know that hornets had made a nest in them. She ran screaming to me with tears running down her cheeks from the pain.
We instantly rushed outside to where I knew plantain was growing, mashed it up and applied it to the stings. Within just a couple of minutes the swelling was gone and so were her tears.
I often laugh when I think of this herb because for years I was told Usnea is a disease in the tree. Little did I know that Usnea (Ascomycota) wasn’t a disease but a cure!
Usnea is a pale grayish-green lichen that grows like leafless mini-shrubs or tassels anchored on bark or twigs. It grows all over the world and can usually be found on sick or dying trees.
Usnea is known to help staph infections, heal wounds, respiratory issues, allergy symptoms, sore throat, fungal infections, urinary infections, and sinus infections. Usnic acid in usnea is more effective against some bacterial strains than penicillin.
Usnea is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal, making it the perfect herb to treat sickness.
Back in the 1980s, I watched a movie where they treated a headache with eating tree bark. That was my first introduction to the medicinal properties found in White Willow Bark (Salix alba).
From the Medical University of Maryland
The bark of white willow contains salicin, which is a chemical similar to aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). In combination with the herb’s powerful anti-inflammatory plant compounds (called flavonoids), salicin is thought to be responsible for the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects of the herb. In fact, in the 1800s, salicin was used to develop aspirin. White willow appears to bring pain relief more slowly than aspirin, but its effects may last longer.
More to Nature Than Beauty
If we take the time to study, learn, observe, we will realize that nature offers us everything that we need to live. From food to free herbal medicine, the answer is often right outside our door.
I take great pleasure walking right outside to my garden for most, if not all, my dietary supplements and medicine. I have found food and herbs to be safe and effective over some of the things I used to use to treat issues that came with a plethora of possible side effects.
While I still believe, and take, prescription drugs for health issues beyond my control. It is rewarding to know not every treatment needs to come from a store.
If you would like to learn more about using herbs in your everyday life, such as ayurvedic medicine, cooking with herbs, growing herbs, and more, check out our other herb-related articles
Planting A Medicinal Garden
If you would like to add medicinal herbs to your garden, you can read this article How To Plant A Medicinal Herb Garden.