Saturday, February 23, 2013

Herbal First Aid

I am in the middle of an eight week course on herbal first aid medicine and I want to share some of the information that I've learned. The course is taught by a man by the name of 7Song who runs the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine in New York. He has practiced herbal medicine for over twenty years all over the US as well as abroad.

I have enjoyed working with plants in a survival situation for food and shelter but just recently started to delve into the wonderful properties that have to heal your body. A lot of the the plants that I am learning about can be found in your yard or just a short walk away. I've looked at plants such as plantain and yarrow as weeds but they are some of the most powerful and useful herbal medicine plants that can be found and they have been used for centuries. The powerful chemicals in these plants can be harnessed in olive oil infusions and made into healing salves or applied directly to wounds.

Today I'm going to talk about Yarrow. Yarrow is a plant that grows where there is mildly disturbed areas of grasslands and open fields. I've seen them flourish alongside roads, train tracks and bike trails. When you collect this plant, keep in mind that the plant will take in the toxins in the air around it, so you'll want to gather it from a low traffic area. Now the properties of yarrow are amazing. You'll find a lot of information about yarrow on the internet but I only take information I've learned from 7Song as he has actually practiced this medicine on literally hundreds of patients. So how can you use this plant? If you have a cut or scrape, you will want to stop bacteria from growing in the wound as that will cause infection. Applying yarrow will stop infections because it contains chemicals that inhibit the growth of fungus, protozoans, bacteria and viruses. It will also help reduce the inflammation often caused by an infection. How do you prepare it? Yarrow can be placed in a container and have hot water poured over it. Cover the tea as the vapors also contain those healing qualities so you want to keep them inside the container. Soak a clean cloth in the mixture and apply to the wound. The heat will open the pores and help the herb get deeper inside the wound.

If you want to have this amazing plant on hand at all times, you can infuse the properties in an oil such as olive, almond or sunflower. You will want to dry the plant first as fresh plants have water in them which can cause your oil to grow mold. Put this infusion in the sun for 3-6 weeks and the chemicals will seep from the plant into the oil. Then strain the plant material with cheese cloth so all you have in the oil. Combine this infused oil with beeswax which is also antibacterial and will harden the mixture. The ratio is 1 cup of oil to one ounce of beeswax. Heat the beeswax and infused oil over medium heat until the beeswax melts. Take off the burner and add four drops of vitamin e to help preserve it. Put into a container and its ready to use any time! I have used it on cuts and scrapes and always have one in my first aid kit.

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