Injuries in the wilderness happen every day. Anything from a twisted ankle on a hiking trail to a scrape from the subway turnstile. The world is a rough place and we all need to know what to do not only when everything is going well but also when faced with an emergency.
Without a corner store or pharmacy to buy band-aids and Bacitracin, what do you do? It turns out; quite a bit. But before we get into how to prevent or treat minor scrapes and wounds, we should probably learn a little bit about infection and sepsis.
Your immune system usually works to fight any germs and prevent infection. If an infection does occur, your immune system tries to fight it alone or with medication such as antibiotics. However, for reasons researchers don’t understand yet, sometimes the immune system stops fighting the “invaders,” and begins to turn on itself. This is the start of sepsis. (full description here)
What do we do then when a major emergency or disaster strikes? That’s when we need to turn to the plants nearly 92% of our medicines come from. Most of these plants require significant processing in order to be useful, but there are a few that require minimal preparation and help prevent infection.
A pause is needed here though, this information is not technical nor professional advice, so make sure you acquire proper training before attempting to use any of these plants, ideas or treatments.
Garlic and Wild Garlic (Allium)
When you cut a garlic bulb, the bulb releases a chemical known as Allicin. This is both the stinky garlicky smell and a potent anti-microbial chemical. Although it works better as a tincture or oil salve, you can grate or mash up garlic and apply it to a bandage directly and then cover a wound. Garlic must be replaced with each dressing change.
Coniferous Tree Sap
Coniferous trees are everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere; spruce, fir and pine are all kind of conifers that this advice applies to. Simply cut a v-shaped notch in the trunk of these trees then place a collection container below the notch. Looking up how to tap a tree can also help you with this step. Once the sap is collected it is typically heated or mixed with an oil before applying to a wound as a salve. Oddly enough, unsalted butter, olive oil and coconut oil are all useful in this process. Avoid putting raw sap on the wound as it is much too sticky to be changed regularly.
Straight out of the depths of history and found nearly everywhere, Yarrow can be used to reduce inflammation and fight infection. Make sure to check on a small part of your skin first and avoid giving it to dogs, cats or horses. If ground up and mixed with water, it can be applied directly to wounds.
Not a plant, rather the bee-distilled pollen from many plants within range of the hive; honey is a miracle substance. I won’t go into the specifics of how honey gets produced, because I’m far from an apiary expert, but I can tell you about some of the medical aspects of this delicious, I mean, useful product. It helps heal wounds and burns, fight infections, reduce duration of diarrhea and help prevent and treat acid reflux. A more pertinent use for what we are talking about today is its use as binding agent for salves as described earlier. In fact, there is some research on specifically garlic mixed with honey as a topical treatment for wounds. Click this link to read the Healthline article yourself. And if you want to read a super dry scientific paper about the same topics click this link.
If you are in the market for some honey, try these folks at Happy Bees Honey. And no, not a sponsor, just a company we’ve purchased good honey from.
A Simple Warning
We cannot stress enough to receive proper training and to do your own research regarding these topics. Although this information and these facts are as accurate as we can relate them, we are not recommending nor are we suggesting in anyway that you use anything but properly sourced and prescribed medicines.
Thanks for spending some time with us today and we hope you learned something useful.
The most important survival tool of all is knowledge so here are some links to where we picked up ours from: