The Survival Medicine Garden

Money doesn’t grow on trees but remedies do grow on plants, or in them, as it were. Over the years I’ve grown quite a few different medicinal plants from all over the globe. The diversity has been very interesting to study and has been a great diversion. However in a pinch when I need a medicinal plant to treat traumatic injury and I run to the garden, the plants I am most seeking are very common ones and frankly they are the best.

For instance, if someone in my family has a canker sore or is trying to recover from dental surgery, I turn immediately to Self Heal (Prunella vulgaris) and I don’t know of anything else that works better to resolve the inflammation and ease the pain. If I am to treat a deep cut, I go immediately to the Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) patch where it is growing dense and green on the landscape. Very little preparation is required — the clean and turgid plant is worried to a juice and applied directly. I do this prior to washing the wound, as an immediate poultice to stem bleeding and kill pain. Later, more involved therapies like Epsom salt soaks may be needed, but for the purpose of first-aid, there is nothing like the plain plant. Then, when the stimulation of life overcomes me and another kind of emergency begins to occur — psychological stress that can drive one crazy, I turn again to plants to make life more immediately, what, reasonable? Wild lettuce (Lactuca sativa) makes a fine salad and when I eat this, it relaxes me. Bodily pain diminishes. If I’m looking for an even bigger dose of relaxation, then Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) takes my hand and leads me to dreamland. I have even been known to nap in the valerian patch, chewing on a leaf… All these herbs, and other common ones I haven’t yet mentioned (see below) are easy to grow in the summer garden. These kinds of herbs stay usable in one form or another for an unusually long period of time, often proffering several harvest windows: winter roots, spring greens, and in the summer, flowers. Learning to use all the different parts of the Valerian plant, it can be enjoyed in one form or another for 12 months out of the year!

Here are the herb seeds included in our new seed collection, Survival Medicine Garden.

Burdock, Gobo (Arctium lappa) traditional usage (TWM): tea, tincture, elimination of toxins, infections. Fresh root, nutrition.

Calendula, Orange (Calendula officinalis) traditional usage (TWM): tea, tincture, oil and salve, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory.

Comfrey, True (Symphytum officinalis) traditional usage (TWM): external use in salves, oils, poultices for the purposes of cell proliferation, rapid healing.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale): traditional usage (TWM): fresh or dried root and leaves, direct consumption, tea or tincture, blood cleansing, micronutrients, nutritional value.

Lettuce, Wild (Lactuca virrosa) traditional usage (TWM): tea, tincture, extracted lactucarium, direct consumption of fresh leaf, pain relief.

Self Heal (Prunella vulgaris): traditional usage (TWM): tea, tincture, oral lesions, sore throat, general astringent, pain relief.

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) traditional usage (TWM): tea, tincture, direct consumption, sedative.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) traditional usage (TWM): tea, tincture, direct application, styptic, anti-inflammatory, deep wounds, first-aid.

The above are the main herbs that I consider to be most useful for first-aid and emergency use. These are all fast-growing medicinals that can be ready for harvest in a single season or less. It is even reasonable to expect that these could be planted at a time of great need and soon give great help!