Survival Doc Says
A Supplement to Natural Health School Lesson 2
Read Lesson 2 First: The History of Herbalism

More Herbalism for Preppers

Grow Your Own Medicine

A common theme that you will notice in these prepper supplements is that many of the drugs that people think they can't live without are not only unnecessary, but may be doing them more harm than good. I always need to follow that with a disclaimer: You must make your own decisions, and take responsibility for your own actions. Never interpret anything I say here or anywhere else as a directive to get off your prescription drugs. I'm only here to inform you so you can make your own decisions and be your own doctor. If ever you are in doubt, ask your pharmacist or doctor what the consequences might be if you stop taking your drugs, and if appropriate see if he or she will help you get off them. Some drugs have to be withdrawn slowly to prevent potentially life-threatening side effects.

You can of course stockpile your medicines, and you should if there are medicines that you don't think you can do without!

Many health problems for which people are using prescription drugs can be managed with prudent lifestyle changes, including nutritional supplementation, herbs, dietary changes, exercise, etc. But if you wait until the collapse occurs before doing these things, you will be too late, because there is a huge learning curve that will take time! You have to start now!

It will come as no surprise that an essential ingredient to natural health is good nutrition. Unfortunately, after a collapse our food choices will probably be limited, and we might be forced to eat foods that have lost much of their nutritional value due to long-term storage. So we might not be able to get our hands on the high quality foods and supplements that our bodies need to maintain our optimal health. That is why I recommend that your survival stockpile include high quality vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements. Additionally, since many of the herbs we are using now come to us from far away places like Africa and South America, we can not count on being able to get these herbs during a crisis. So stockpiling these herbs now is an important step for preppers.

Since we won't be able to rely on our stockpiles forever, because they will eventually become depleted, we need to look at growing some of our own herbs. Do your research and find out what herbs you can grow where you live, and learn how to use those herbs. You should also stockpile seeds, and very importantly, start growing, preserving and using them now! Learn how to save your seeds for the next crop. If you wait until the collapse occurs before learning how to do these things, it will be too late!

Drying or dehydrating the herbs that you grow or find is the easiest way to preserve them. People have been drying their herbs for centuries, by simply picking the whole plant and hanging it upside down to dry in the air. You can also pick the leaves and other plant parts and place them on a screen to dry in the sun. After they are good and dry you can put them in air tight containers, such as plastic bags, and store them out of the light in a location where the temperature is as cool and as constant as possible. If dried and stored properly, herbs can be stored for years in this manner, but they will have their maximum potency if you use them within the first couple of years after they are harvested.

Wildcrafting Herbs

In addition to growing your own, you need to learn how to wildcraft herbs. There is a great deal to learn so you must get started now. (Where have I heard that before?) Purchase a good field guide for your area and begin identifying all of the wild plants that grow naturally where you live. This may sound like a formidable task, but it is not if you will concentrate on one plant at a time. You may never get through all of them, but each plant that you learn will put you that much ahead and give you one more tool that you can add to your nutritional tool box.

Once you have positively identified a plant, do some research to find what traditional uses that plant has a history of. You will find many plants that are good for food, and many with a history of medicinal or other uses, and many plants with a history of both. If you choose to harvest or wildcraft a plant, be aware that there may be local laws that prohibit or limit it. Some herbs, such as Wild American Ginseng, have been overharvested and are now rare or endangered. That doesn't mean that you can not harvest it, but there may be regulations, just like there are regulations regarding when, where and how many deer you may harvest during hunting season. Be responsible, for the sake of the next herb harvest, and for the next generation of herbalists who will be following your footsteps. Fortunately most naturally-occurring herbs are plentiful in the wild, and even if harvesting an herb is prohibited or controlled, that doesn't mean that you can't search and identify it—and take pictures—to learn more about it for future knowledge. Of course you should keep a note book of all your discoveries, including the exact location of where you discovered an herb of particular interest.

The method I described above, where you learn to identify the wild plants that you randomly come across in the wild, is a much better technique than the alternative, reading about an herb and then going out to try to find it. But there may be a few times when you want to do the latter, if there is an herb that you have a particular interest in that you know is native to your location. Just be aware that this latter method is much harder to do and so it may not be the best use of your time.

You will probably find that identifying plants in the wild will be harder than you thought. That's because many plants have similar characteristics, especially with regard to their leaves. The best way to identify a plant is when it is flowering. So during your excursions through the woods you should be concentrating most of your attention on plants that are in bloom. If you are searching for a particular plant, you should first learn everything you can about it, including when it flowers in your area, and look for it during that time of the year. You will of course always take your field guide and note book with you when you go into the woods.

Remember, you do not have to travel far to begin learning about the herbs that grow in your area. Start by learning everything you can about the "weeds" that are growing right in your own back yard, and then branch out from there as time allows. Remember:

"A weed is just an herb whose virtues remain unappreciated. Get rid of the weeds by learning to appreciate them all!" —Survival Doc

(Note: The "Survival Doc Says" supplements are under construction and are not yet available for all lessons. I will add them as they are completed.)

Where to Next?
Complete the Self Evaluation for Lesson 2, or
Go to the Home Page and Click on Lesson 3.