Medicinal Plants

Herbalists believe in something called "herbal synergy," which means that in order for the herb to be as safe and effective as possible, it is important to use the whole plant instead of extracting only the active ingredients. For instance, meadowsweet contains salicylic acid, which is the active ingredient in aspirin. While aspirin alone often causes issues in people who have sensitive stomachs, meadowsweet also contains tannin and mucilage, which work to protect the stomach from the salicylic acid.

Herbal medicine can be very useful for treating many different illnesses from minor scrapes and burns to serious diseases. Herbal medicines are mostly used for persistent illnesses such as migraines, arthritis, depression and PMS.

Herbal remedies are easy to take, and many herbs can be grown at home, so they are often more convenient for minor conditions. It is important to note that herbal remedies cannot replace conventional treatments in many cases, and that not all herbs are safe for human ingestion.

Oxygen therapy
Red light therapy

Bitter Orange - Bitter orange is used to treat indigestion, and constipation, heartburn, loss of appetite,nasal congestion, and weight loss. It is also applied to the skin for fungal infections such as ringworm and athlete’s foot.

Black Cohosh - Black cohosh has a history of use for rheumatism (arthritis and muscle pain) but has been used more recently to treat hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and other symptoms that can occur during menopause.
Black cohosh has also been used for menstrual irregularities and premenstrual syndrome, and to induce labor.

roman chamomile- The herb is often used for sleeplessness; anxiety; and gastrointestinal conditions such as upset stomach, gas, and diarrhea.

Cinnamon - Ceylon (real) cinnamon(Cinnamomum zeylanicum)

"True Cinnamon" refers to the dried inner bark of Cinnamomum verum?-True cinnamon' refers to the dried inner bark of Cinnamomum verum J. S. Presl (syn. C. zeylanicum) (Lauraceae). Nat. inst. asticle-"Cassia cinnamon as a source of coumarin in cinnamon-flavored food and food supplements in the United States."

Nat article - Authentication of true cinnamon (Cinnamon verum) utilising direct analysis in real time (DART)-QToF-MS "Other 'cinnamon' species, C. cassia (Nees & T. Nees) J. Presl (syn. C. aromaticum Nees) (Chinese cassia), C. loureiroi Nees (Saigon cassia), and C. burmannii (Nees & T. Nees) Blume (Indonesian cassia), commonly known as cassia, are also marketed as cinnamon."

Can I use herbs on my own?

Many people use herbs as daily supplements, or to treat specific ailments. While it usually safe and effective to do so, it is important to educate yourself on the correct way to use each herb, as some are not safe to ingest.

If you do decide to take an herbal supplement, it is important to let your health care provider know, as many herbs interact with other forms of medicine.

How Are Herbs Prepared?
Decoctions are made by boiling barks, roots and berries to extract the active ingredients. The liquid is strained and can be taken either hot or cold.

Tinctures are made by soaking herbs in water and alcohol to extract and preserve the active ingredients. The liquid is then stored in small bottles and taken with water.

Infusions are made like teas. Boiling water is poured over the herb and is left to sit for about 10 minutes, creating a liquid to be taken as a hot drink or medicine.

Infused Oils are made with chopped herbs and oil. The mixture is either placed in a bowl over boiling water, or left to infuse in the sunlight.

Creams are made from herbs and either oil or fat. The mixture simmers for about three hours before it is strained and set in dark bottles.

Ointments are also made from herbs combined with either oil or fat. The ointment is then heated quickly over boiling water before it is strained and set.

What Does That Mean?
Essential oils - The oils that are obtained from various parts of plants (as flowers, leaves, seeds or bark) by steam distillation, expression, or extraction.

Pressed - A method of extracting the oil from the plant by literally pressing it out. You can learn more about the methods of pressing oils on our "How to make cooking oil" page.

Infusion - A drink, remedy, or extract prepared by steeping soft plant materials such as flowers, leaves and soft stems of a plant or herb briefly in hot liquid, as in herbal teas.

Decoction - The act or process of boiling harder plant materials like roots, seeds and bark as to extract the flavor or active principle. Like infusions, decoctions are used for making hot teas, but unlike infusions, decoctions are left on the heat to simmer for a longer period of time.

Tincture - Made by dissolving a medicinal substance (plant or herb) in alcohol.

Maceration - Soaking in fluid at room temperature to extract the medicinal principle.

Hot baths - Because the skin is porous and absorbent, sometimes medicinal herbs will be added to a hot bath to soak in.

Steam inhalation - The vapors coming off of the boiling herbs are breathed in.

Inhalation of powdered plants - A dust of the finely ground dried herb powder is inhaled by the patient.

The bark of the willow tree contains salicylic acid, or aspirin. If you peel the bark off the tree you can wrap it around a wound and secure it for pain relief.  Blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupes, dates, raisins, guavas, apricots, green pepper, olives, tomatoes, radish, mushrooms and chicory also contain salicylic acid. Some herbs and spices contain quite high amounts.

Treatment for nausea, diarrhea
Fighting fatigue

Plants Poisonous To Humans - Prevention And Remedies
There are many varieties of plants to watch out for when you're walking in the wilderness. Many bengin plants have poisonous look-alikes and it pays to keep these in mind when you're in the wilderness.

Poison Ivy looks like a plant called Virginia Creeper. The way you can tell them apart is to take a close look at the leaves. Virginia Creeper has five leaves at the end of each stem, while poison Ivy only has three.

1. Rubbing sticky creek mud on your skin dries and forms a barrier against poisonous plants and bugs.

The irritant in all species of poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac is an oily resin known as toxicodendrol. This oily resin is found in the leaves, stems, roots and berries of all of these plants. When this resin comes in contact with skin or fingernails, it clings there and becomes tightly bound within minutes. This means that the most important thing to do is to make sure you wash all areas that were exposed to poison ivy, oak or sumac with soap and water immediately. Even a small delay gives the resin all the time it needs to become tightly bound to the skin and cause a reaction.

Wilderness Treatments:
1. Plants containing "Steroidal Saponins" can be used to treat skin irritation. Simply crush the root with a lillte water and apply to skin. Beans and Spinache are two common foods that contain steroidal saponins.

Nature is chalk full of medicine. Long before there were stores and synthetic drugs, the only cures available to people were straight off the land they lived on. Learning where to find medicines and how to apply them in the wilderness is an essential skill. Here are some common ailments and the remedies you can find in the wilderness.

Plants have been used in traditional medicine for
several thousand years (Abu-Rabia, 2005). The traditional culture worldwide are more or less endangered as a result of increasing legislative and moral supports accorded orthodox practice over native medicine (Idu and Osemwegie, 2007).

Aloe Vera - Traditionally, aloe was used topically to heal wounds and for various skin conditions, and orally as a laxative.

Hyptis suaveolens -

Bilberry(Vaccinium myrtillus) - The fruit is used to treat diarrhea, menstrual cramps, eye problems, varicose veins, venous insufficiency (a condition in which the veins do not efficiently return blood from the legs to the heart), and other circulatory problems.
Bilberry leaf is used for entirely different conditions, including diabetes.

chapped hands

Chapped hands - 2 teaspoons clarified honey, few drops of lavender water - annoint chapped parts frequently and before bed, covering hands with golves

2 parts oil of almonds, 1 part almond paste, 1 part honey. Add honey to almond paste, kneed well.

All content contained within this site is for informational, educational, and reference purposes only and is not intended to substitute advice given by a pharmacist, physician, or other licensed health-care professional. Information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any health condition or disease. Anyone considering alternative therapies should consult with their medical professional before using an alternative method of healing. You should not use this information for treating a health problem or disease or to make a self-diagnosis. We do not give nor is any opinion on our web site to be construed as medical advice. Contact your Health Care provider immediately if you suspect that you have a medical problem.

Credit For Content:
University of New Hampshire Health Services - Herbal Medicine
Copyright 2016