As well versed as I am when it comes to using essential oils for aches and pains, I have little practical experience using herbal remedies to resolve those daily creaks in my joints and elsewhere that seem to occur at the worst possible time.
Given the popularity of our recent Prepper Book Festival entry, Be Your Own Herbalist, I decided I better get with the program and continue the discussion of herbal remedies by calling in some experts with first-hand experience. That, plus getting some first-hand experience myself.
This week I called in Carmen Reeves, the author of Homemade Herbal Medicine, and asked (really I begged) for some help. What she has graciously done is given me permission to share an excerpt from her book. In doing so, I want you to understand that Carmen is not simply a researcher who writes. She uses herbs and other natural remedies herself and adds her personal anecdotal experience to her writings.
For the purpose of this article, herbal remedies for aches and pains are broken down into 4 main categories:
General, non-specific pain relief
Herbal Remedies for Arthritis
So many herbs out there tout anti-inflammatory capabilities. If you have pains from arthritis, whether Rheumatoid or Osteoarthritis, there is an immense selection from the world of herbs to choose from. In fact—almost all herbs have some sort of anti-inflammatory capability! However, try out and stick to the following: they have the most supported use, both in modern studies and traditional knowledge.
1. Evening Primrose – The seed pods are high in Omega-3’s, ALA, and GLA. An oil bought commercially, or infused from the plant’s seed pods, has been shown to alleviate inflamed joints—especially for Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferers.
2. Arnica – Creams, ointments, and salves are widely available for arthritis relief at most natural food stores. You can also opt to make your own salve or topical oil by extracting Arnica’s soothing compounds from the flowers. Make sure to not use Arnica internally, only externally on pained joints.
3. Comfrey –Comfrey can take the edge off arthritic pain. Creams and ointments are available at some stores—or make an oil or salve from the leaves or root to rub into painful joints. Do not take internally.
4. Ginger – Taken internally, Ginger can help with inflammatory pain much like a modern NSAID (like Acetaminophen). You might need to take it periodically over a few hours—make a fresh Ginger root tea, a Chai tea, or add fresh Ginger to your meal. Or—sip a Ginger ale.
5. Turmeric – This bright yellow powder can provide relief for arthritis more effectively than any other. Take it internally in a tea, tincture, supplement, or added to food. Or, make yourself a Turmeric oil or salve—it works, but might make your hands yellow for a while!
Herbal Remedies for Pain Relief
What about general pain? Beyond achy joints from arthritis, there are numerous ways we experience pain. For example, we might suffer from muscle pains due to exercise or injury. Or, we might face nerve pain from issues like sciatica or even type 2 diabetes.
No matter the issue, the herbal world will probably have you covered. If you’re tiring from pain medications or ointments with uncomfortable side effects—or maybe you just want to make your own remedy, or turn to something natural—check out these herbs which have been used for ages to soothe pains of all kinds.
6. Aloe – The pain of burns, itching, dry skin, psoriasis, and eczema is no fun. Apply Aloe gel or cream to skin infections, afflictions, or even wounds. It can dull the burn of inflamed pain, and speed up the time it takes to heal.
7. Arnica – Arnica assuages not only joint pain, but muscle or bruise pains too. Creams, ointments, and salves are commercially available. You can make your own salve or oil from the flowers. Do not use internally or on open skin.
8. Black Haw – Containing a compound called scopoletin (as well as Aspirin-like compounds, including salicin), taking the twigs or root of this plant in a hot tea could achieve similar effect as taking Aspirin for tummy aches, menstrual cramps, or even the pain from harsh, dry coughs.
9. Cayenne – Try an over-the-counter cream containing capsaicin, the active ingredient in Cayenne that makes it “spicy.” It works excellent on unbroken, smooth skin for nerve and muscle pains especially. Just make sure you wash your hands after using—getting any residue in your eyes or mouth will burn!
Gaye’s note: Check this Backdoor Survival DIY: Make an Awesome Cayenne Salve for Pain Relief
10. Comfrey – Comfrey eases muscle and joint pain both, but also helps speed healing of muscles, breaks, and internal injuries. Make an oil or salve from the leaves or root and rub into skin. Do not take internally or on open skin.
11. St. John’s Wort – Got the blues and some uncomfortable nerve pain? St. John’s Wort not only allays depression. When used as a topical oil or salve rubbed into skin, it can soothe nerve pain. Try it with issues like fibromyalgia.
Herbal Remedies for A Toothache
Maybe you don’t have to go to the dentist for simple tooth pain. Instead, turn to the culinary spices and herbs in your kitchen cupboard. If you don’t think it’s a cavity, abscess, or infection—consider these herbs for ridding yourself of the agony.
12. Echinacea – Beyond fighting colds, Echinacea was traditionally used for toothaches. Make an oil or salve from leaves, flowers, or roots— apply just a bit to the gums around your aching tooth. Apply more every hour until pain recedes.
13. St. John’s Wort – This plant, typically used for depression, yields a gorgeously deep-red infused oil if you leave it in oil in the sun. It can be safely dabbed around the gums of a throbbing tooth. Apply more every hour until pain recedes.
Herbal Remedies for Sore Throat
Ah—the scratchy, raspy pain that accompanies colds, flu, or sometimes even strep throat or allergies. Luckily, herbal remedies have been in place for sore throats for hundreds of years… if not thousands. All it takes is making a hot, soothing tea with any of the following herbs—and add a little lemon or honey (a mixture of maple syrup and malt syrup works the same way as a vegan alternative) for additional throat- relieving effects.
14, Eucalyptus – This Australian tree’s active constituent, eucalyptol, helps soothe the pain and soreness of coughs or sore throat. It may also help open up airways, assist breathing, and even kill of viral or bacterial infections causing the sore throat. Make it as a gargle, using a few drops of essential oils or dried leaves. Spit it out when finished.
15. Garlic – Garlic, like Eucalyptus, is strong at fighting off viral/bacterial infection causing sore throat. It also boosts immunity to give an added edge. Most of all— a warm Garlic tea can be throat-soothing. Add a few cloves (as many as you can stand) to warm or hot water, then crush them in the water with a fork and stir. Add honey (or maple and malt syrup mixture) and lemon, and you have in your hands a homemade, herbal sore throat dream.
16. Ginger – Ginger can be a boon to a sore throat, especially when it occurs with colds or flu. Make a hot tea of fresh root and add lemon—if you’re brave, add Garlic. Ginger’s pungent heat soothes the inflamed skin, while killing off any viral presence.
17. Mint – Menthol in Mint leaves suppresses cough, and soothes any achy throat. Make a hot tea of it, and perhaps add some lemon or lime. Mint is also mildly anti-viral.
18. Thyme – Like all these other above herbs, Thyme contains compounds that assuage a sore throat—but also can kill infection-causing microbes that lead up to it. Make a tea of Thyme sprigs with honey (or maple and malt syrup mixture) and lemon. Add crushed Garlic or Ginger if you dare!
For even more remedies, consider picking up a copy of Homemade Herbal Medicine or one of Carmen’s other health related books. Plus, if there continues to be enough interest, I will be sharing more of her knowledge in future articles, which, as you know, are always available to you online for free.
Backdoor Survival Mail Bag & Reader Tips
Jeff left this comment a few weeks ago and I keep going back to it.
Prepping for survival is simple. Shelter, water and food are all that you have to cover.
Prepping for living is much more complicated. Simply surviving is not enough,you must plan for a life that is fulfilling and lasting, ensuring continued personal growth and a stable future for those who come after you. That is where prepping gets complex.
Prepping for living is hard work and it is so easy to get so caught up in the process that we forget to have fun. I can only speak for myself but there are some days when I believe I have forgotten to have fun. Do you ever feel that way?
The Final Word
Survival Buzz? What Buzz? Yes, last week I did forget. That is a first for me and I have tossed and turned at night thinking about it. Although I would rather not delve into all of the reasons for forgetting things lately, I will simply share that the process of packing, purging, and moving is exhausting and I am tired.
I now have a keen appreciation for what many of you are feeling as you plan your own move that may include the daunting task of relocating preps. Let me ask this: do you have a move-related story to share?
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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In this book you will learn:
How to prepare very basic teas, infusions, salves, oils, tinctures, and herbal vinegars
The benefits of the author’s 30 favorite herbs, all of which are the most studied and esteemed by traditional folklore, ancient practice, science, and research combined
A wonderful guide of the Most Common Maladies, and the different ways herbs can be used to restore health for each issue
Learn how to handle colds, flus, headaches, anxiety, arthritis pain, skin problems, minor infections, cuts, stomach ailments, fibromyalgia pain, and so much more
The importance of what specific herbs and herbal preparations to use for certain issues—when infusions are better than essential oils, and when tinctures are better than supplements
Knowing how to choose the very best store bought teas, essential oils, supplements, and creams for your home practice
Learn, most of all, how plants can change your life! Equip yourself with basics, knowledge, and all the how-to’s on beginning herbalism.
Bargain Bin: Below you will find links to some of my other favorite preps.
RediTape Pocket Duct Tape 2-Pack: RediTape is available from Amazon in 2 packs. I love this stuff and am stashing packs in all of my kits. In many cases it will replace a big bulky roll of the 3M stuff, giving me room for additional preps.
Sunferno Flintstone Portable Solar Panel with Rechargeable Battery Pack: This sturdy solar power pack is lightweight and small enough to be used in an EDC kit. I especially like that it has 2 USB ports.
Maximal Power FC999 Universal Battery Charger: This nicely built charger will charge AA, AAA, C, D, N, 9V, Ni-MH, Ni-CD, and Alkaline batteries. It has an LED display so that when you first put a battery in the charging bay, you know whether it is viable for charging or simply bad and ready to go back to the recycle box. See How to Recharge Alkaline Batteries.
How to Sew a Button and Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew: You are going to love this book. It is charming and timely and filled with good-natured humor and the loving spirits of grandmothers everywhere. Also, check out How to Build a Fire: And Other Handy Things Your Grandfather Knew.
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter: The LifeStraw is considered the most advanced, compact, ultralight personal water filter available. It contains no chemicals or iodinated resin, no batteries and no moving parts to break or wear out. It weighs only 2oz. making it perfect for the prepper. For more information, see my LifeStraw review.
No Rinse Cleansing & Deodorizing Bathing Wipes: One wipe is more than enough for a complete “bath”. These are a good backup when traditional showers are not available such as the week or weeks following a disaster. Also good for the sick room as well as camping, boating, hiking and such. Here is my review.
Bicycle Canasta Games Playing Cards: This timeless classic will keep the entire family occupied when the power it out. Playing cards or board games should be in everyone’s preparedness pantry.
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As many of your know ~ the very best way to understand and become familiar with Essential Oils is to jump in with both feet. The only way to do that is to have the right EOs at your fingertips.
The Spark Naturals Health and Wellness Kit is perfect for this. It includes:
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