Posts Tagged With: Herbal Remedies

Sherpa’s 3 Friday Links: Meat Chickens, Liberty Classroom, and Herbal Honey

by Todd Walker

Here’s what I found interesting this week.

Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens for Meat (H/T to Resilient News I think 🙂 – if not, here’s a link for you) A great article on selecting birds that aren’t chicken coop potatoes. It’s a long article over at Mother Earth News filled with useful advice and practical know-how, Gail Damerow’s trusted “Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens” will steer you through every chicken situation, from hatching chicks to collecting and storing eggs.

Liberty Classroom I’ve signed up for Tom Woods’s Liberty Classroom as a Christmas gift to myself. I’m learning history and economics my teachers never taught me in all my schooling years. For $100 bucks you can get a real education – not the watered down revisionist history taught in government schools. NOTE: The cost of this college level material is cheaper than the price of a quick trip to the supermarket. Learn real history and economics in your car. Ask questions of the experts. Become a ferocious debater.

Herbal Honey, Herbal Syrup and Cough Drops With a name like Susun S. Weed, she can’t help but be an herbal expert. Her article appears over at Nature Skills. Susun S. Weed is a world-renowned herbalist, teacher, wise woman practitioner and author of many books including Healing Wise.

Hope y’all have a great weekend. Keep doing the stuff!

Categories: Herbal Remedies, Homeopathy, Homesteading, Life-Liberty-Happiness, Natural Health, Preparedness, Real Food | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Elderberry Extract: Nature’s â€œTamiflu”

Don’t want to pump your body with mercury and other poisons via the ineffective flu shot? Try this natural medicine.

by Daisy Luther

January 21, 2013

The most important weapon against influenza that you can add to your herbal arsenal is elderberry extract.

Whether you are concerned with the seasonal flu or the potential of a deadly strain of influenza becoming pandemic, elderberry extract is a vital addition to your vault of flu remedies.

Unlike the highly touted flu shot, black elderberry has actually been conclusively proven to be effective.  It is one of the few natural remedies that has been written up in the medical journals.  The studies I’m listing here are based on black elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L) – name brand Sambucol.

According to PubMed:

Sambucus nigra L. products – Sambucol – are based on a standardized black elderberry extract. They are natural remedies with antiviral properties, especially against different strains of influenza virus. Sambucol was shown to be effective in vitro against 10 strains of influenza virus. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study, Sambucol reduced the duration of flu symptoms to 3-4 days.

The Journal of International Medical Research concurs that elderberry extract is a proven treatment, referencing a different study:

Elderberry has been used in folk medicine for centuries to treat influenza, colds and sinusitis, and has been reported to have antiviral activity against influenza and herpes simplex. We investigated the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry syrup for treating influenza A and B infections. Sixty patients (aged 18 – 54 years) suffering from influenza-like symptoms for 48 h or less were enrolled in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study during the influenza season of 1999 – 2000 in Norway. Patients received 15 ml of elderberry or placebo syrup four times a day for 5 days, and recorded their symptoms using a visual analogue scale. Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days  earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in  those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo. Elderberry extract seems to offer an efficient, safe and cost-effective treatment for influenza.

 An Ancient Panacea

The medicinal use of the elderberry is nothing new.  Mentioned in ancient medicinal texts, the humble black elderberry has been used as a multi-purpose treatment for centuries.  In 400 BC, Hippocrates referred to the elderberry bush as his “medicine chest” because of its varied uses, and it was mentioned several times in the writings of Pliny the Elder when he recorded  the practices of the ancient Romans.

To learn more about the historical uses of all components of the elderberry bush, check out this detailed article on Botanical.com.

 How It Works

Scientists have isolated the active compound in the elderberry.  It is called Antivirin and is found in proteins of the black elderberry.  The compound prevents the flu virus from invading the membranes of  healthy cells.

The main flavonoids present in elderberries are the anthocyanins cyanidin 3-glucoside and cyanidin 3-sambubioside,  and are detectable in plasma after oral intake of elderberry extract. A possible mechanism of action of elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza is that the flavonoids stimulate the immune system by enhancing production of cytokines by monocytes.  In addition, elderberry has been shown to inhibit the  haemagglutination of the influenza virus and thus prevent the adhesion of the virus to the cell receptors.  Anthocyanins also have an antiinflammatory effect comparable to that of acetylsalicylic acid;  this could explain the pronounced effect on aches, pain and fever seen in the group treated with elderberry syrup. (source)

 

Avian Flu

This is especially important with something like the Avian flu, which, according to the CDC, has a mortality rate of 60% in the 600 cases reported worldwide.   At this point the Avian flu is rarely transmissible to, or between, humans.  The fear is that a mutation of the virus could change that, instigating a deadly pandemic.  (Alarmingly, the Avian virus has been successfully mutated by scientists, causing public outcry that this “research” could be weaponized in the future, but that’s a different article.)

Since the first avian influenza outbreak, in 1997, there has been concern that the influenza A (H5N1) virus might either mutate and adapt to allow efficient transmission during the infection of mammals or reassort its gene segments with human influenza viruses during the coinfection of a single host, resulting in a new virus that would be both highly lethal and transmissible from person to person. Such events are believed to have preceded the influenza pandemics of 1918, 1957, and 1968. Several lines of evidence indicate that the currently circulating influenza A (H5N1) viruses have in fact evolved to more virulent forms since 1997, with a higher mortality among human cases, different antigenic properties, a different internal gene constellation,and an expanded host range.  (source)

According to a study by Zacay-Rones in 1995, black elderberry was proven to be effective against the Avian flu, specifically Panama B strain.

A standardized elderberry extract, Sambucol (SAM), reduced hemagglutination and inhibited replication of human influenza viruses type A/Shangdong 9/93 (H3N2), A/Beijing 32/92 (H3N2), A/Texas 36/91 (H1N1), A/Singapore 6/86 (H1N1), type B/Panama 45/90, B/Yamagata 16/88, B/Ann Arbor 1/86, and of animal strains from Northern European swine and turkeys, A/Sw/Ger 2/81, A/Tur/Ger 3/91, and A/Sw/Ger 8533/91 in Madin-Darby canine kidney cells. A placebo-controlled, double blind study was carried out on a group of individuals living in an agricultural community (kibbutz) during an outbreak of influenza B/Panama in 1993. Fever, feeling of improvement, and complete cure were recorded during 6 days. Sera obtained in the acute and convalescent phases were tested for the presence of antibodies to influenza A, B, respiratory syncytial, and adenoviruses. Convalescent phase serologies showed higher mean and mean geometric hemagglutination inhibition (HI) titers to influenza B in the group treated with SAM than in the control group. A significant improvement of the symptoms, including fever, was seen in 93.3% of the cases in the SAM-treated group within 2 days, whereas in the control group 91.7% of the patients showed an improvement within 6 days (p < 0.001). A complete cure was achieved within 2 to 3 days in nearly 90% of the SAM-treated group and within at least 6 days in the placebo group (p < 0.001). No satisfactory medication to cure influenza type A and B is available. Considering the efficacy of the extract in vitro on all strains of influenza virus tested, the clinical results, its low cost, and absence of side-effects, this preparation could offer a possibility for safe treatment for influenza A and B. (source)

Effectiveness

Sambucol has been shown to reduce the symptoms and the duration of flu sufferers.  It has been tested on both Influenza A and Influenza B strains.  In one study it was noted that subjects taking Sambucol instead of a placebo took fewer over the counter medications to relieve symptoms like fever, aches and congestion.

Thom’s findings were presented at the 15th Annual Conference on Antiviral Research in 2002. The study has been accepted for publication in the Journal of International Medical Research.

The study involved 60 patients who had been suffering with flu symptoms for 48 hours or less; 90% were infected with the A strain of the virus, 10% were infected with type B. Half the group took 15 milliliters of Sambucol or and the other group took a placebo four times a day for five days.

Patients in the Sambucol group had “pronounced improvements” in flu symptoms after three days: Nearly 90% of patients had complete cure within two to three days. Also, the Sambucol group had no drowsiness, the downside of many flu treatments.

The placebo group didn’t recover until at least day six; they also took more painkillers and nasal sprays. (source)

Sambucol will not prevent the flu, but will shorten the duration and severity of the flu.

How to Take Elderberry Extract

In the Israeli study, mentioned above, each day  children were given 1/2 tablespoon of Sambucol extract four times per day, and adults were given 1 tablespoons four times per day.  It’s important to note that the only form of elderberry extract that has been used in studies is Sambucol, which is based on a standardized black elderberry extract.

(NOTE:  I’m not affiliated with the company Sambucol in any way.  I am recommending this product because our family uses it, it is standardized and it is the product used in all of the studies referenced in this article.  I receive no commission or payment of any type from this company.)

There are a few different ways you can take the pleasant tasting liquid:

  • Right out of the spoon
  • Mixed with hot water and honey for a tea
  • Mixed with sparkling water and served over ice for a refreshing “soda pop”-like beverage

 Store your elderberry extract in a cool dry place – we keep our bottle in the refrigerator.

Unlike chemical medications, there have been no reported side effects from Sambucol.  Although you should always check with your physician before taking this or any other remedy.  It is safe for children over 2 and the elderly.  No studies have been done regarding the safety of Sambucol during pregnancy or breastfeeding.  There are no reported contraindications for those taking other medications, or those who suffer from asthma or high blood pressure.

Research is ongoing regarding the use of Sambucol for the treatment of allergies, cancer, inflammatory disorders and HIV.

Author bio: Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca

Categories: Herbal Remedies, Homeopathy, Natural Health, Preparedness, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Stomach Flu Survival

Stomach Flu Survival

January 15, 2013
by Daisy Luther

There are few things more unpleasant than the stomach flu.  That  crippling nausea, the stomach and intestinal cramps and the frantic rush to the bathroom are sheer misery.

Sometimes this type of illness is caused by a virus and at other times it isn’t a virus at all, but food poisoning.  According to Lizzie Bennett of Medically Speaking,

“A non-food stomach flu is usually caused by a virus, often a norovirus,  rotavirus  or more rarely campylobacter.  It will usually occur after contact  with someone who as been unwell  but most often is brought home by school children. People will generally feel ‘ under the weather’ and then the gastric upset starts. it often is accompanied by vomiting .
With food poisoning there is an acute onset, it occurs quite quickly after eating/drinking contaminated food and will often affect  people who have eaten the same dish or who have eaten in the same place. Only lab testing will ascertain definitively what the cause is  as the symptoms are so very similar.”

The symptoms can be relieved identically. Often, you’ll never know which was the cause.  If the symptoms are especially severe or continue for more than 48 hours, the standard advice is to seek medical attention.

A stomach virus is incredibly contagious.  If a family member is suffering from the symptoms of a stomach virus, practice the following precautions to attempt to contain it:

  • Isolate the family member as much as possible
  • Wash cutlery and dishes used by the sick family member in water containing a couple of drops of bleach.  Wash again with your regular, non-toxic dish soap.
  • Wipe items handled by the sick person with antibacterial wipes (I keep Clorox wipes on hand for this purpose.)  Things like the telephone, the television remote, door handles, faucets and the toilet flush should be wiped before someone else touches them.
  • Household members should wash their hands frequently, particularly before eating and after using the bathroom (yes, I know this should be standard, but I’m repeating it anyway)

Vomiting and diarrhea can be the body’s natural defense against invaders.  It can be the digestive system’s way of ridding itself of toxins and viruses.  However, excessive vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration, sometimes severe.  It’s very important to keep the sufferer hydrated with ice chips and clear fluids. You can find some recipes for homemade oral rehydration solutions HERE.  These recipes are a good basis for creating a solution using items that you have in your pantry.

Once the person is able to eat, try offering gentle, easily digested foods.  The “BRAT” diet consists of bananas, rice, applesauce and  toast.  Other options are saltine crackers, pretzels, mashed potatoes, pasta and clear soups.

If after 12 hours, if the patient is still unable to keep down liquids, medical attention should be sought.  The time shortens for younger patients. If an infant isn’t urinating at least every two hours his little body is trying to hold onto liquids because he is dehydrated – you should seek immediate medical assistance in this case.

Treating the Symptoms

There are all sorts of options for treating gastro-intestinal upset, both traditional and chemical. In our home, chemical treatments are always a last resort.

Over-the-Counter Medications

We very rarely use chemical medications, but I do keep these on hand for extremely sparing use.

Anti-diarrheals

The most common type of anti-diarrheal is the compound Loperamide Hydrochloride (found in Immodium or Kaopectate). It works by  slowing the propulsion of intestinal contents by the intestinal muscles.

The most common side effects of loperamide are: stomach pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, constipation, dry mouth, sleepiness, fatigue and dehydration. According to the National Library of Medicine, loperamide hydrochloride can actually paralyze the intestines in a condition called paralytic ileus. This means that the intestines no longer participate in digestion and do not push the stool along for excretion.

Many natural practitioners feel that diarrhea should not be stopped – that the body is naturally ridding itself of viruses or toxins. As well, overuse of anti-diarrheals can result in a constipation so severe that medical intervention becomes necessary.

Anti-Nauseants

Anti-nauseants are also called anti-emetics.  The most popular brands contain  dimenhydrinate(found in Dramamine and Gravol).

According to the Alberta Health Services website, the medication (sold under the brand name Gravol in Canada) can have a number of side effects.  There has also been a noted problem with abuse of medications containing dimenhydriante, so those medications have been relegated to “behind the counter”.

At recommended doses, Gravol can cause drowsiness, dizziness and blurred vision. It can impair your concentration and motor coordination. For these reasons, you should use Gravol with caution if driving or doing other things that require you to be fully alert. It can be especially dangerous to combine it with alcohol and other depressant drugs.  Dry mouth, excitation and nervousness
(especially in children) are other side effects.   At lower doses, you can experience feelings of well-being and euphoria. At higher doses you can hallucinate. Taking Gravol with alcohol, codeine and other depressant drugs intensifies these effects. Large doses can cause sluggishness, paranoia, agitation, memory loss, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and difficulty swallowing and speaking.

 Natural Remedies

Treating the symptoms doesn’t necessarily require a trip to the pharmacy. Just like treatments for the seasonal flu, many good remedies can be found, already in your kitchen.   If you don’t already have these items on hand, they are excellent, multi-purpose additions to your stockpile.  Before using these or any other herbal supplements, perform due diligence in confirming potential interactions with any other drugs or supplements that person may be taking.  Some of these plants can be easily grown in a variety of climates, providing a constantly replenishing supply.

Ginger

Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory with a long history in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of nausea, motion sickness and morning sickness.

Ginger can be found in the form of tea, the root itself or in tablets.  Keep in mind, though, if you are vomiting already, ginger, especially in the form of tea, can make the experience far more unpleasant because of worsened esophageal reflux.

When purchasing ginger tablets, read the ingredients carefully.  Gravol makes a “Natural Source” ginger chewable pill containing certified organic ginger.  I was really excited because you can find that in even the tiniest pharmacy.  However, upon closer inspection, the ingredients listed “aspartame” .  Ummm. NO, I won’t add a proven neurotoxin to my organic herbal remedy, thanks.

Several companies offer a ginger tablet remedy.  However, if you go over to the vitamin section, quite frequently you can find Ginger Root.  Buying it from the vitamin section, without the glossy anti-nausea advertising, can save you a hefty amount. I checked at my local pharmacy today and 90 Ginger Root capsules (500 mg) were the same price as the bottle of 20 “All-Natural Ginger” anti-nausea tablets.  Both were $8.99.  As well, the one in the supplement section had no additional ingredients aside from the gelatin capsule that encased the powder.

Chamomile

Chamomile has anti-spasmodic properties.  This makes a cup of chamomile tea a soothing treatment for a stomach upset that includes abdominal cramping, bloating, and gas.  It has a mild pleasant taste with a hint of “apple” flavor.

Mint

There are all different kinds of mint tea available.  The most common are peppermint, spearmint and wintergreen.  They all contain menthol, a volatile oil.  Menthol is the component that gives mint that “cooling” sensation.  Mint tea is anti-spasmodic, so will aid in relieving gas, cramping and bloating. Additionally, menthol has muscle relaxant properties that can help reduce vomiting.

Candy containing real peppermint oil can easily be carried in your purse for a mildly soothing effect.

Some people that suffer from acid reflux find that mint worsens the condition.

 Yogurt

Yogurt can’t be tolerated in all episodes of stomach and intestinal upsets.  However, yogurt with active cultures can help to rebalance the “good flora” in your stomach and intestinal tract, making it especially valuable for treating diarrhea.  Regular consumption of yogurt can actually prevent stomach viruses in the first place by making your digestive tract inhospitable to viruses.

Black Tea

Black tea is rich in tannins, which have been a longtime home treatment for diarrhea.  You can sweeten your tea but leave out the milk until you’re feeling better.

Goldenseal

Goldenseal capsules or extract can also be used in the treatment of diarrhea.   Goldenseal kills certain bacteria, like e coli, which can cause diarrhea.

*****

There isn’t really any way to “cure” a stomach virus – the illness must simply run its course.  The best things you can do are rest, keep hydrated and treat the symptoms to keep them at a tolerable level.

Do you have any treatments for upset stomachs that you’ve found effective?  Please share them in the comments below.

Author bio: Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca

Categories: Healthcare, Herbal Remedies, Homeopathy, Preparedness | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

Topical Home Remedies the Easy Way

By Tess Pennington
Source: Ready Nutrition
August 2012

What will you do when tubes of triple antibiotic cream is no longer as close as the pharmacy department of the nearest Wal-Mart?

With a little study and preparation, you’ll make your own, of course. I have a child with numerous allergies and sensitivities, so even now, with the commercial salves readily available, I prefer the peace of mind that comes from making my own topical remedies so that I know every single ingredient contained within.

Salves and balms are very simple and can be made in a few easy steps.  They have two basic components – the base and the healing herbs.

Step 1: Create a Base for Your Salve Base

  • Petroleum Jelly – I’m not a fan – if you are going to the effort of using natural non-chemical products, you might want to reconsider a base made from petroleum.
  • Beeswax (not good for people with pollen allergies). Also added to salves to harden the oils more easily. For two cups of plant based oil, use 1 1/2 ounces of beeswax. For smaller quantities of salve: one ounce of oil will need about 1/2 teaspoon of beeswax to harden the salve.
  • Lanolin
  • Plant oil (grape seed oil, coconut oil, olive oil) – these are rich in vitamin E
  • Honey (has the benefit of being a natural antibiotic)

Typically, for a larger quantity of salve, you will use around 1/2 to 1 cup of oil. Keep in mind that you want to use enough oil to cover 1 inch above the herbs while they are heated. Once you have chosen your base, then it is time to select your “herbal medicinal” ingredient or ingredients. (See below for a directory of some commonly found medicinal herbs.)

Step 2: Add the Healing Herbs or Essential Oils

If you have essential oils available you can skip the step for extracting the medicinal qualities from the herbs. Otherwise, use this process to extract the healing properties of the herbs.

  1. On a double broiler, stir the 1 cup of plant-based oil and herb or herbs on low heat for one to two hours, stirring often. Ensure the oil is covering the herb blend. The longer you cook the herbs in the oil, the stronger your mixture will be.
  2. Alternatively, use your crockpot on a low setting to extract the medicinal qualities from the herbs.  In the crock pot the process takes 3-5 hours but the mixture does not have to be tended and stirred.  It takes longer to extract the healing qualities from roots than from leaves.
  3. Using cheese cloth or an extremely fine mesh colander, strain the herbs from the oil. Place the oil back into the top of the double boiler and add beeswax to harden the salve. Stir until completely melted.
  4. Check to see if the balm has hardened sufficiently by dipping out a small amount in a spoon and allowing it to cool. If it is still runny, you need to add more beeswax.
  5. Pour the mixture into a sterile container and add essential oils or vitamin E oil (if desired), stirring well.  Store in a cool dry place.
  6. Always test a skin patch before wide use, and then, if there is no reaction, most salves can be used as needed several times per day.

Using the directions provided above many different salves can be created. Try some of the following combinations or refer to the 30 Most Popular Herbs for Natural Medicine for more examples of herbs that can be used medicinally.

  • Aloe Vera and Vitamin E – great for burns and sunburns
  • Calendula and Comfrey – soothing for rashes, burns and minor irritation
  • Aloe Vera and Vitamin E – great for burns and sunburns
  • Goldenseal, Comfrey and Echinacea – antibacterial
  • Black Walnut, Burdock, Echinacea and Tea Tree Oil – fungal infections
  • Eucalyptus oil and Camphor oil – Chest rub (like homemade Vick’s)
  • Arnica Flower – sprains, sore muscles and bruises
  • Tea tree oil and Lavender oil – antibiotic
  • Chamomile and comfrey – soothing for rashes and insect bites
  • White willow bark – mild analgesic

One day you may be looking to nature for your pharmaceuticals.  As well, consider planting the herbs (many of these are perennial) and/or locating places in your area where they grow wild. Do some research – find out what bounty nature provides in your locale and find out how the items can be used in your natural medicine cabinet.

 

For more homemade salve recipes, click here.

 

Author: Tess Pennington
Web Site: http://www.ReadyNutrition.com/

Date: August 3rd, 2012

Related Categories: Featured, Homesteading, Medical Emergencies, Natural Alternatives, Recipes

Categories: First Aid, Frugal Preps, Herbal Remedies, Homeopathy, Medical, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival Skills, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Edible Wild Plants – Sassafras

Source: Sensible Survival

DISCLAIMER:  Don’t believe anything I or any body else tells you about edible wild plants.  Don’t eat edible wild plants based on what you see in a book or on the inter-net.  Get a qualified instructor to show you the plants, and don’t eat them until the instructor shows you how to prepare them, and then eats them him or herself.  Be aware that you may be allergic to a plant that someone else can eat without harm.  Be sure that any plants that you gather have not been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides.
In the “old days” it was common practice for pioneer families to imbibe a spring tonic.  This ritual was part medicinal and part psychological.  It was medicinal in that the tonic in question usually had some medicinal benefit, either real or imagined; and it was psychological in that it was an acknowledgment that the natural world was renewing itself and man, by the act of taking this purifying herb, was to be part of this renewal.  In the South, one of the most common spring tonics was Sassafras tea.
The Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) is a fairly small tree, sometimes up to 40′ tall, which grows throughout the Eastern United States.  The easiest way to identify the Sassafras is by its leaves.  You will find that the Sassafras has three distinctly different shaped leaves on the same tree.  Some of the leaves are oval shaped, some of the leaves are mitten shaped, and some of the leaves are three lobed.  All of the leaves have smooth edges, and are shiny on the upper surface.  Pictured below: The three different shaped leaves found on the sassafras tree
 
If you have any doubts about whether you have correctly identified a Sassafras, all you have to do is dig up a small root and smell of it.  Sassafras root smells exactly like rootbeer.
To make Sassafras tea, dig up several small roots and wash the dirt from them.  Bring a pot of water to a boil and throw the roots into the boiling water.  Let the roots boil for a few minutes until the water begins to turn a deep red.  Remove water from heat and let the tea steep.  Serve hot or cold.  Add honey or sugar if you like.  Native Americans added maple sugar.
Old timers referred to Sassafras tea as a blood thinner.  They said that it helped a person tolerate the coming summer heat better.  Modern science tells us that Sassafras contains a mild narcoleptic, a drug that induces drowsiness.  The Food and Drug Administration also warns us that Sassafras can cause cancer if given in large doses to laboratory rats over extended periods of time (so don’t give your pet rat a washtub full of Sassafras tea every day).
Apparently mosquitoes do not like the smell of Sassafras.  Take some of the tea and rub it on exposed areas of your skin to repel these pesky little critters.
Yet another use of Sassafras is as a thickener in stews.  You may remember the Hank Williams song about “Jambalya, crawfish pie, and filet gumbo.”  Well, filet is the substance used to thicken gumbo, and filet is made from dried and powdered Sassafras leaves.  If you make your own filet be careful to remove the sharp stems and veins after the leaves have been crushed.  These can cause major stomach problems.  Also, be sure and don’t give your pet rat too much gumbo.
I have read that Sassafras can be used to make a fire-bow-drill, but I have had no success with this.  The wood seems to be too hard.  I have intended to try and dig up a large Sassafras root, let it dry for six months and see if that wouldn’t make a usable fire-bow-drill.  The root of the Cottonwood is the only part of that tree that I have ever been able to start a fire-bow fire with, and I was thinking that the same may hold true for the Sassafras, but I haven’t got around to trying it yet.  Maybe you’ll try it first and let me know.
Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Herbal Remedies, Lost Skills, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Home Remedies for Poison Ivy (Including Plain Hot Water?)

Poison ivy

Poison ivy, with its “leaves of three.”

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

Lately, several desperate-sounding readers have asked about home remedies for poison ivy. I feel sorry for them. Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac—whichever grows in your neck of the woods—can cause some of the worst itching known to mankind. And it can last as long as a couple of weeks.

And all you who brag you can wallow in the stuff without as much as a scratch: Your day may be coming. As with other allergies, you can not be allergic all your life and, wham, one day you feel the itch and see the blisters. After that, you’ve become one of the chosen—allergic for life.

There’s no vaccine and no surefire cure for rashes from poison ivy and the like. But here are some things you can do.

 

1. Know what the poison plant looks like and avoid it.
If you know you’re allergic, first thing is you better dang-well know what the plant looks like and stay away from it. Leaves of three, let them be.

I know, I know. Not all leaves of three are poison ivy, oak, or sumac. But, if you’re like me and not really an expert in plant identification, I’d advise not taking a chance. Even vines and stems without the leaves can cause the rash, so unless I’m sure, I’m staying away from vines also.

Jewelweed flower

A flowering spotted jewelweed. This plant is a natural home remedy for poison ivy.

2. Look out for jewelweed too.
If you do get into poison ivy, oak or sumac, find some jewelweed. Grab a bunch, crush it up, stems and all, and smear it on your skin. Apparently jewelweed likes growing in some of the same places the three-leaf stuff likes—boggy, wet bottomland. Know what it looks like. No, I mean really know. I’d hate to have you smearing a bunch of poison ivy all over you.

3. If you wash the oil off soon enough, you might not get the rash.
The oil that causes the rash is called urishiol. A brush against a leaf, a vine, whatever, and it’s on you. Sometimes I think it hops on some people who even dare venture nearby. I know it can get in smoke because I’ve see some bad cases of poor souls who inadvertently burned some with other brush.

The sooner you can wash it off the better—hopefully within fifteen minutes. Maximum is probably about four hours. Use soap and water, or rubbing alcohol. Some people swear by Tecnu products for poison ivy/oak/sumac, such as Oak-N-Ivy. Jewelweed soap can be super too.

Don’t forget to wash your clothes, and your dog. But, a word of advice about the latter: Be sure to bathe your furry pal with gloves so you don’t the poison ivy back on you. You’ll probably want to jump back in the shower after you’re done, just in case.


Where to Find the Poison-Ivy Remedies

The links below are for your information. I’m not vouching for the companies, and I don’t make any money if you buy from them.

Here’s where you can get the pharmaceutical products:

  • You can find some Tecnu products at the Tec Labs store.
  • Oak-N-Ivy is available in various places, including REI, or you can order it from your choice of companies.
  • Pharmacies sell hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion and oral antihistamines (Benadryl) over-the-counter.

You can buy or make these poison-ivy remedies:

  • Jewelweed soap: Hard to find. You can order it from the Alternative Nature Herbal Online Store.
  • Witch-hazel astringent: Widely available at pharmacies.
  • Quercetin drops: Hard to find. I’m not positive you can make it, but it does come from onions. You can order the drops from Source Naturals.
  • Oatmeal baths: Widely available, including at Walmart.


Home Remedies to Treat the Rash and Itching

The rash is normally red and raised, with blisters. It usually occurs in the spots where you’ve come in contact with the plant. I say usually because some rashes start that way and seem to spread to other parts of your body. That’s rare, and it’s not the open blisters or soap you use. Blisters don’t spread the rash. Rather, it’s a more severe, systemic allergic reaction you’re having. The treatments are the same.

For the rash and itching, you can try more jewelweed soap and maybe some witch–hazel astringent. Quercetin drops have anti-inflammatory effects and can be taken orally and rubbed on the rash. Cool baths, cool compresses, and oatmeal baths can help the itching.

Here’s one you may not know: If none of the other is working and the itching is driving you crazy, try getting in the shower with the water as hot as you can stand it. (Obviously don’t burn your skin.) Apparently this depletes your body’s supply of itch-causing histamines and can give you relief for a few hours.

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Conventional At-Home Treatments

Hydrocortisone cream may help. The strongest you can get over-the-counter is one percent. Calamine lotion is an option. Don’t get the Caladryl since it can cause its own allergic reaction. Oral antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) ease the itching but can make you drowsy (sometimes a good thing.)


Doctor Treatments

A shot or course of oral steroids, or both, may help—even shorten the course of the rash. (No matter what, you’re likely in for a few days to a couple of weeks of the misery.) You might also get a stronger steroid cream from the doctor.

If you run fever or there’s pus in some blisters, or you’re having any other signs of infection, get to the doctor. If that’s not possible, start on antibiotics if you have them.


What Home Remedy Works for You?

There are probably about as many home remedies as there are people with poison ivy. Some work for some; nothing works for everyone. Trial and error is the name of this game.

So, please help all our readers and do tell. What’s your favorite home remedy?

And while you’re at it, please share your worst horror stories regarding those pretty green leaves.


Poison ivy photo by Jan Miller, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Jewelweed photo by Dr. Thomas G. Barnes, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Categories: Bushcrafting, DIY Preparedness, Herbal Remedies, Homeopathy, Medical, Self-reliance, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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