Thursday, March 12, 2009

Top 5 Trail bound Remedies

I crocheted this cute little tincture wrap to protect my glass bottles while in my bag or backpack. Of course, what I had to do when I finished it, was fill it with tinctures!

I made it with five pockets for 1 oz bottle sizes. Running the wilderness homeschool program along with having 2 children has sharpened my awareness of what really happens when you spend all day in the woods with a bunch of kids.

I'll say first that I would never replace or undermine the need to have the med-pack with you if you are seriously hitting the trails, leading a group, or overnighting. You've got to have your regular stuff, for safety's sake; and that is primarily what we have to use under the umbrella of an insured, public program. Gauze, rubber gloves, an epi-pen, and basic medical supplies are extremely practical to have. However, as an herbalist (as a human and a mom, really), I have the right to treat myself or my own children with herbal remedies as appropriate. It is also in the interest of sustainable living to know how to use simple, home made tinctures in the widest range of application possible.

I have reduced my immediate arsenal to 5, 1 oz bottles, to fit in my pouch and not add excess weight to my pack. Though there are close runners up that I will list later.

#1 - St. Johnswort Tincture (Hypericum perforatum)

This panacea is something I rarely leave the house without regardless of the occasion. It is one of my closest allies (as are each of these herbs I have chosen, actually) and indispensable as an anti-viral and anti-inflammatory. It is used both internally and externally.
This herb is contra-indicated if you are taking MAO inhibitors.

If you are on the trail and you or your child:

~Sprains something
~Gets cramps
~Gets a virus
~Gets scared
~Can't sleep
~Is too hot
~Pulls a muscle
~Is extremely sore
~Has sore feet or blisters
~Gets a bad bruise
~Has a headache
~Has a traumatic injury
~Gets burned and may have particles within the burn
~Acquires a minor cut or scrape

St. Johnswort is the remedy of choice. It can be used gently as a 'rescue remedy' or acutely as in injuries.

#2) Yarrow Tincture (Achillea millefolium)

Yarrow is renowned for it's ability to stop the bleeding of an acute injury or bloody situation. It also has tremendous capacity to modulate the blood and cool overheated conditions. Yarrow is also a powerful anti-viral. Yarrow's astringency and analgesic properties make it a definite for my top 5 in light of it's versatility. Take or apply Yarrow tincture if:

~You get a nosebleed
~You are bleeding from an acute injury
~There is chance of infection or bacteria
~You have punctured flesh
~You are having dental issues
~You fell and think you might need to go be checked for internal bleeding
~You are overheating
~You are hot but not sweating like normal even though you are hydrated
~You have external pain from a cut
~You have a fever
~You are coming down with a sore throat or virus
~You have poison ivy
~You have blisters (though sap works better)
~You have cut yourself or are wounded

#3 Wormwood tincture (Artemisia absinthe)

Wormwood, just as the name suggests, is a de-wormer. It's ability to dispel worms or other parasites is historic and earned. It is a powerful herb, so please use judicious dosages. I use 10 drops/half an hour in acute situations - approximately. Use common sense. Too high a dose can cause dizziness or nausea. In the case of food poisoning or water bacteria, you are probably already feeling that way. For the latter two issues, one can use wormwood as an initial treatment while waiting for help or going to the emergency room. In other words - don't be stupid if you need to get help, get it.

Wormwood is also valuable for topical applications, as you will see below

Take a little wormwood if you....

~Think you may have consumed contaminated water
~Have been bitten by a tick
~If you have a stomach ache or are nauseous
~Are eating wild meat and plants that you are not acclimated to
~Have gotten a lot of mosquito bites, apply externally too.
~Have poison ivy, apply externally

#4) Osha root tincture (Ligusticum porteri)

This precious plant root I use carefully. It is an at-risk plant and only grows in limited mountainous regions. This plant isn't local to me, I buy good root and tincture it at home and make it last. But it's priceless. If you are harvesting it yourself, please be conscious. Earth conscious, and also smart; it's an umbelliferae and to the untrained can be mistaken for deadly plants Water Hemlock or Poison Hemlock

Take osha root tincture if you:

~Have been stung by a bee or many bees.
~Have been bitten by a questionable beast; snake, spider, mouse, or venomous creature.
~Are having a strange allergic reaction; wild sneezing, mysterious rashes, hives or rashy inflammations
~Are having a hard time breathing

This can be a life saver - but again, an epi-pen is good to have in the pack just in case. It is nice if you don't have to use the epi-pen as your first response.

#5) St. Johnswort blossom infused OIL. (Hypericum perforatum)

On the trail, melted messy salves and chap sticks are a pain. I just leave it in it's concentrated liquid state and use it for virtually everything.

Apply St' Johnswort oil if you

~burn yourself

~have a sunburn

~have chapped or dry skin

~have sore muscles, injured, or achy anything

~have trouble in 'tender' places

~need something to soothe small wounds on children without stinging it

~are bruised and it hurts

~have a herpes sore

So that pretty much covers most of what I see as likely applications. I've used these same versatile remedies, so reliably over time that my home apothecary has actually shrunk in it's variety of preparations.

But there are still runners up:

~An essential oil; I usually grab lavender, peppermint, tea tree or eucalyptus, for bug repelling, and painless cut disinfecting for kids. Also good for breathing issues, hand cleansing, and bad itching from poison ivy or bug bites.
~Echinacea root tincture, for bites, stings, and general health insurance.
~Cayenne powder. This is what I grab first in the even of a bad puncture wound or cut. It staunches bleeding, kills bacteria, and numbs a good amount of pain.

~Goldenseal powder..... expensive, endangered, yet I always have a little container of it in my pack. Although it has a billion great uses, in light of it's ecological status, I reserve it for a couple applications.
Apply Goldenseal powder if:
~Your child is cut, hysterical and panicked about a wound remedy stinging.
~You have a mean case of athlete's foot or ringworm
~You have a hot, wet infected wound or blister and it needs a fast, drying healer
~Your child has a topical infection
Now, what would be great is if the field and forest is alive with plants and provide you all these needs, fresh at your fingertips, when you need them. and there are many out there. The problem is that they are not often right where you are, ready to use, when something goes wrong. It's always good to harvest and prepare some things in advance.
You also may find yourself with a different arsenal altogether, if you are intimate with your specific bioregion. Feel free to share yours in the comments.
Now you're all wrapped up and ready to venture out!
Happy hiking!


annie kelleher said...

another one i like is plaintain, or plantago as my dear friend rose always calls it. i used a blend of plantago, olive oil and wild impatiens to not only ease a bad and mysterieous case of itchy eyelids, but also a rash on my grandson's face that responded to no other treatment with great success. in fact, my recipe for the anti-itchy eyelids is one of my most searched out blogs!!! thanks for sharing this five essentials...

The Plant Whisperer said...

I love plantain too! Makes the best spit poultice for nettle stings and bee stings. Luckily it is so prolific here I never have to pack it.
Thanks for reading!

Brigitte said...

What a lovely idea to knit such a useful bag!
Thank you Ananda!
Is it o.k. if I link to this special post?
By the way, do you also knit something for the Milkweed project?

We use pretty much the same things on our adventure trips ;-)
Mine are: St.John's wort tincture,yarrow tincture, echinacea tincture (works also fine when sore throat) comfrey tincture (for pain outside and inside), then small plantain ointment (burns, scratches, bruises and to easy the mind of the kids when they are wounded :-) and calendula cream (cooling when burns, rashes...)
Ah yeah! I also have around 50 dried huckleberries in my bag, in case some one gets diarrhea...

tansy said...

i have really bad allergic reactions to bee stings and since i go barefoot, i generally end up with 3-4 a year. :D so, plantain for me is a life saver. in addition to applying a poultice externally, i will take it internally, several droppers at a time and i have seen a marked difference from doing so. i probably should get an epi pen for back up but i keep hoping that i'll build up a resistance as it's reported to happen when you are stung at least once a year. (each sting i get seems a little less severe, especially when they happen a few weeks apart...we keep bees so we have a plentiful supply of them to step on).

i always carry plantain in my bag wherever i go because of this.

boy, i'd be hard pressed to cut my stash in my medicine bag to 5! :D i made a similar pouch using fulled sweaters and then sewing them together but i have 2 pouches that each contain about 10 pockets. :)

i always love reading what makes a person's top 5 or 10 list for herbs!

Yarrow said...

Oh how wonderful! I use those same herbs mostly, except for the osha root. I've never tried it. Love the knitted bag, got a pattern? Blessings.

The Plant Whisperer said...

Thanks everyone for the wonderful comments! Such great wisdom on plantain.
I'm sorry I don't have a pattern, I winged it. It's basically a rectangle folded in thirds, then sewn up to make pockets, and chains woven through the back for the ties. Super easy - I'm an amateur crocheter.
I IS hard to cut back to 5 - and they would change for a different occasion. But these are by far what I need most often!

Brigitte I would love to make something for the giant Milkweed but I'm not sure I have the time.
Yes you may link to my post, thanks!


Brigitte said...

Thanks Ananda,
I made the link on my herbcorner blog.

I am allergic against bee/wasp stings too. What I found best is to take a plantain vinegar infusion with me as first aid. At home I make poultices with arrowroot powder (make a paste with water or plantain infusion/tea)
With every poultice you can watch the swollen part shrink :-)

The Plant Whisperer said...

Thank you Brigitte for the link!

Great tips on Plantain!

journeyseeds said...

Nice! A lovely pouch. I have wanted to make pouches for my travel kit flower essences and tinctures but, have never gotten around to it. I just throw them in a bag. You've inspired me to think about this again. Nice informative post!

Kiva Rose said...

This is such a lovely idea (and so well executed) that you've inspired me to do a similar blog post (with a link back here of course) just now.

Angie Goodloe LMT, Herbalist said...

This is just awesome! I love your little tincture bag!!! My Grandma used to crochet- I was given her 'tools' when she passed (although I must admit I have not learned yet). Reading your post has made me stop and think of her today and the blessings handmade gifts have to offer- when the time is right I will learn this too, and when I make my first bag I will think of you, and send you a gift:) also your suggestions for the herbs are great too:)
I have to add that I plan on jumping on the bandwagon and linking to your post in the future as well!

The Plant Whisperer said...

Aw shucks! Thanks Journey, Kiva and Angie.... I look forward to reading each of your own experiences too, and how your little bags come out if you make them. They are so useful. I made one for my mom too.

Angie... crochet has that magic; to bridge generations, doesn't it? I know for me it connects me to my daughter, and her to her grandmother.... it's precious. I wish you many sweet moments of weaving your grandmother's memory.

And thank you sisters for the links!

Shannon and Alex said...

Oooo, I'm so glad to find you off Yarrow's blog. I'm a novice herbalist (studied with Patricia Krytsi-Howell with Botanologos) and I'm excited to see my yarrow coming up in the field. I haven't gotten around to making tinctures yet, usually just oils or drying herbs. This is a great site and I just love it! Thank you for such wonderful information.

comfrey cottages said...

i adore your bag! what an awesome way to safely carry the bottles! you have really inspired me! i babysit 2 grandkids during the school year, and 8 total during the summer, so i always have to have my tinctures etc with me but it is a hassle trying not to have them knock together and break. i thank you for this cool suggestion! hugs :)

pomegranates said...

that is awesome! i wish i knew how to crochet or knit (i'm learning), i would whip one of these up too! great idea..

Debbie said...

I just discovered your blog through a link on my daughter's blog. I loved all the info and will now be a regular follower.