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The Surprising Benefits of Honey

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Throughout history honey has been considered a food with unparalleled nutritional and physical benefits. For over 10,000 years (and maybe more) honey has been used as a staple food and as a medicine. This deliciously sweet substance is one of the few foods that can actually sustain human life all by itself. If you’re not already storing honey as part of your survival strategy, learning about all the surprising benefits of honey ought to convince you to start.

Storage

Honey lasts forever; if stored properly you will never need to worry about your honey going bad, forget about FIFO with honey. There was actually edible honey discovered in the pharaoh’s tomb in Egypt. It is also a healthy substitute for sugar that contains no fats or cholesterol.

My honey is hard and crystallized!

Not to worry, if your honey has become crystallized all you need to do is heat it to return it back to normal. Or if you like, turn it into mead!

Health

Skin

Honey is great for overall skin health and can even help to reduce wrinkles and nourish the skin.

Antibacterial

Honey has been used as an antiseptic for years, it was even one of the most popular treatments for wounds in the First World War. Recent science has explained to us why honey is such an effective antibacterial agent.

One New Zealand researcher says a particular type of honey may be useful in treating MRSA infections. Antibacterial properties of honey are the result of the low water activity causing osmosis, hydrogen peroxide effect, and high acidity. 

Wounds

Honey has also been shown to reduce odor, swelling and scarring when used to treat wounds, aside from its antibacterial effects.

Stomach Ache

Got a stomach ache? No problem, mix one teaspoon of honey with a hot glass of water, squeeze in about half a lemon and your stomach ache should go away.

Pink Eye

While it has only been proven in rats, honey was considered an effective treatment for conjunctivitis.

Allergies

Folk medicine suggests that taking local honey will help your allergies because you gain a tolerance to local pollens. Recent studies suggest that while it doesn’t help by eliminating allergies it helps reduce allergies.

a recent study has shown pollen collected by bees to exert an anti allergenic effect, mediated by an inhibition of IgE immunoglobulin binding to mast cells. This inhibited mast cell degranulation and thus reduced allergic reaction.

Coughs

Honey coats the throat, making it great for a sore throat. To cure your sore throat simply take about 1 teaspoon of honey and let it slowly trickle down your throat.

Burns

Honey is also great for burns since it removes the pain and helps aid in the healing process.

Colitis

Honey is shown to reduce the damage done to the colon in Colitis.

Insomnia

Some studies suggest that honey can also help with various nervous disorders such as insomnia. If you can’t sleep, mix 1 teaspoon of honey into a warm glass of water and enjoy a good night’s sleep.

**Because of the spores contained in honey, infants under the age of 1 year cannot consume it. While it’s fine for older children and adults, infants under 1 year can contract botulism from honey

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8 Life-Saving Survival Uses For Basic, Ordinary Dental Floss

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While packing your survival kit, weight is a major concern. Fortunately, you can lighten the load significantly by carrying small and lightweight but very versatile items that fulfill a number of different survival purposes. Dental floss is one of those items. After reading this article, you’ll hopefully feel compelled to include at least a couple of packs of dental floss in your kit.

Here are nine important survival uses for dental floss:

1. Tripwire. Wrap a few strands of dental floss together to make it tighter, and then string it around some trees at about knee height. The thinness of the floss should cause it to blend in nicely, and any intruders who try to invade your area will be in for a surprise.

2. Stitches. A second medical application for dental floss is to use it to stitch. Open wounds are a major threat in any survival situation, and it’s important that you close the wound off after you’ve stopped the bleeding with a tourniquet. Dental floss can do the trick.

3. Clothesline. If you string dental floss between two separate trees, it can be used as a clothesline for lighter articles of clothing such as socks and light shirts. It is possible for it to hold up heavier articles of clothing such as jackets or pants, but only as long as you wrap multiple strands of it tightly together.

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4. Spear making. Dental floss can be used to tie your knife around a pole or branch to make a spear for hunting, fishing and self-defense purposes.

5. Fishing line. Since we just mentioned fishing, there’s another fishing purpose that dental floss fulfills as well: making a fishing pole. You can craft together an entire DIY fishing pole out of nothing more than a suitable branch, dental floss and a soda can tab for the fishing hook. At that point, all you need is the bait!

6. Rope. If you wrap multiple strands of dental floss tightly together, it will create a thin rope that can do almost anything rope can do. For example, sealing garbage bags and hanging items.

7. Shoelaces. It will be a real bummer if your shoelaces ever break while you’re out in the woods, but threaded dental floss is a near-perfect temporary solution that will work until you get replacement shoelaces.

8. Sewing. Last but certainly not least, a needle and floss can be used for nearly any kind of a sewing application. Whether it’s stitching ripped clothing back together, fashioning mosquito netting, or repairing tents or blankets, dental floss will be more than up to the task.

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Herbal Wound Care Options

Wound care should be an important part of your first aid preparedness training. After all, what may be a harmless paper cut by today’s standards could set the stage for infection in a less sanitary environment. Furthermore, if access to higher medical care were interrupted, there would be no ambulance or life flight, and maybe even no emergency room, to provide care for more serious wounds and injuries.

First aid for wounds covers many different aspects. Especially in a SHTF scenario, you would need to know how to safely control bleeding, assess the injury to gauge extent of the damage, and be able to clean the wound and prevent infection. Wilderness first aid or first responder training can be invaluable because there is so much to learn on this topic. Being able to learn from an instructor in these courses is also extremely helpful- they will correct any errors you might make and often have a great deal of  personal experience to make the material more relatable.

In long term scenarios with no higher medical care, the prevention of infection becomes a crucial step in the healing process. By using herbs to encourage healthy wound healing and support the immune system, you have a back-up plan in case medical supplies run short.

There are five basic types of herbs to keep in mind for herbal wound support: Hemostatics that curb excessive bleeding; anti-inflammatory herbs for healthy inflammation response; proliferative herbs that help with scabbing and the formation of new skin; anti-pathogenics that help minimize contamination of the wounds, and lymphatic herbs that support a healthy immune response. We will also briefly cover helpful pain relieving herbs.

Let’s take a look at the five main groups of herbs for wound care:

Herbal Hemostatics

Most herbs that have hemostatic properties are classified as astringents in traditional herbalism. These are herbs with a reputation for drawing up and tightening tissues, and drying up excessive fluids of all types. Traditional wound herbs utilized for their hemostatic properties include the leaves and flowers of shepherd’s purse, oak bark, wild geranium root, yarrow leaf and/or flower, raspberry or blackberry leaf or blackberry root, and chaparral leaf.

White oak and English oak are the two “official” oak species used in herbal medicine, but all oaks exhibit a high level of tannins and can be used interchangeable for their astringency. These herbs may be prepared as an infusion or decoction and applied as a wash, or if an extract is available it can be diluted in water and applied equally well. These herbs are also beneficial for oozing or weepy wounds or sores.

Herbal Anti-Inflammatories

These herbs may be applied topically alone or as part of a formula to encourage excessive inflammation to return to normal. Inflammation is a natural part of the healing process, but if the wound is large these herbs can help with comfort during the healing process, and help the tissue recover from pain and swelling. Several of them can also be found under the antipathogenic category, and under pain relievers. Examples of herbal anti-inflammatories include willow, meadowsweet, chaparral, lobelia, self heal, comfrey, plantain, birch, alder, aspen, poplar, and turmeric.

Proliferatives

Herbs that encourage the growth of healthy tissue during the growth process are also important. Chaparral, comfrey, horsetail, plantain, calendula, and aloe are great examples of this type of herb. It’s important to use proliferatives judiciously over deep wounds, as they can promote healing of the top layers of the epidermis before the wound has healed completely underneath. This could set the stage for infection. Be sure that the wound is clean and has started to heal well internally and that there is no chance of infection before using them.

Comfrey and calendula can promote healthy tissue growth when there is a concern that scar tissue could be damaging. These herbs have a traditional reputation for helping a wound to heal with minimal scarring. Elecampane root can be beneficial when there is “proud flesh,” meaning the wound is having difficulty forming a healthy scab (7). Stinging nettle can be taken internally as a tea, or eaten as a steamed green, during the healing process as this herb supplies micro-nutrients and protein that support the healing process (2,4).

Anti-Pathogenics

Antipathogenics are herbs that help keep the wound clean from bacterial contamination. Note that these are not going to behave in the same manner as an internal, systemic antibiotic. They need to be applied topically. Chaparral, plantain, acacia, aloe, echinacea, goldenseal, and sida are examples here. Even though goldenseal is listed, it’s important to understand that the berberine content in goldenseal does its best work topically. It’s not well absorbed into the bloodstream from the gut.

Learn More: If you would like to read more about the few herbs that do seem to have a systemic anti-pathogenic effect, you can visit my blog to read this article on Herbal Antibiotics: What You Really Need To Know. But you also need to learn about herbal lymphatics.

Herbal Lymphatics

Because there are very few herbs that have a systemic action approaching modern antibiotics, we turn to another staple in the prepared herbalist’s medicinals kit: Herbal lymphatics. These herbs work with our bodies to support the effectiveness of our immunity through our lymphatic system. If you’ve ever experienced swollen lymph glands during a fever or infection, you know first hand how hard these glands work during an immune system challenge.

Herbal lymphatics promote the movement of lymph and the ability of the body to drain off and process the byproducts of infection. Poke root, blue flag, echinacea, red root, boneset, and cleavers are herbs in this class. Alteratives, or blood purifiers, such as burdock and red clover, can support lymphatic herbs. Lymphatics can be applied as compresses over swollen lymph glands, but it is usually more practical to take them internally. Poke and blue flag are generally used in small amounts, even only a few drops at a time, due to their potency and potential toxicity. Cleavers is a very safe lymphatic that may also be eaten as a steamed green.

Herbal Support for Pain

The last topic we need to cover for herbal wound care is the problem of pain. Everyone has a different pain tolerance, but the topic of pain should be taken seriously during wound care in a SHTF scenario. Pain places more stress on an already stressed system, and can interfere with sleep and appetite. Adequate rest and nutrition are important for healing in any scenario, but especially in an emergency situation where no higher care is available. The same can be said for managing stress in what is most likely a very stressful environment to begin with. Herbs that have a tradition of use for pain include Jamaica dogwood (1), meadowsweet, willow, and black cohosh (5).

Applying Herbs in a Wound Care Scenario

In addition to knowing first aid skills and what herbs to use, you also need to know how to use the herbs. Now that you have a basic understanding of the types of herbs that could be used for wound care, you may still be curious about how the herbs would be applied.

As a general rule, the two most practical herbal preparations in any SHTF scenario are going to be extracts (sometimes called tinctures); and infusions or decoctions. Extracts are made by soaking herbal material in alcohol (if made at home, it’s common to use Everclear mixed with water or vodka), which preserves the herbs and pulls the beneficial components into the liquid. Teas made with herbs are known as infusions (for fresh or dried leaves and flowers) and decoctions (for fresh or dried roots, barks, and seeds). Both types of preparations have the flexibility of either external or internal use (depending on the herb). Extracts are most commonly used internally, but may be diluted in a small amount of water to create a wash or applied without dilution if needed.

Some of the herbs listed above, like Jamaican dogwood, poke root, and chaparral, are at one end of the herbal safety spectrum and are called for in only small amounts at a time. Herbs like burdock and cleavers fall on the opposite end of the spectrum and are safe enough to be foraged as food. Most fall somewhere in the middle, but it’s important that you become familiar with each herb you plan to use during emergency situations so that you understand the plant’s unique profile as well as how much to use.

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Emergency Medicinal Plants: Useful To Have and To Own

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If you run out of medicine in your cabinet, did you know there are other ways to get medicine besides going to a pharmacy? Here are a list of some of the most valued medicinal plants.

1. Aloe Vera

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Aloe Vera is one the most popular medicinal plants because it can be used externally and internally.  Aloe Vera speeds up the healing process and reduces the risk of infections for wounds, cuts, and burns.  This also can treat ulcerative colitis by drinking the aloe vera juice, poor appetite, and digestive problems.

2. Marsh Mallow

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The root of the Marsh Mallow is to be taken internally to help treat inflammations and irritations of the urinary and respiratory mucus membranes, gastritis, and counter excess stomach acid.  The root for external use is to help with bruising, sprains, insect bites, skin inflammations, and aching muscles.  A bonus is the leaves are edible and can be used to help out in the areas of cystitis and frequent urination.

3. Great Burdock

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The Great Burdock can grow shadeless and the root is used to treat ‘toxic overload’ that result in throat infections and skin disease like burns, rashes, eczema, ringworm, bites, acne, herpes, and bruising.  This plant has leaves and seeds that can be crushed to poultice it to bruising, burns, sores and ulcers.

4. Pot Marigold

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As long as this plant stays moist it can grow in almost any type of soil.  It can be very acidic or very alkaline.  It helps with skin problems and the deep orange flower is applied externally to help ease the pain with bites, sprains, wounds, sore eyes, and varicose veins.  For internal use it can help treat fevers and chronic infections.  To help treat corns and warts just crush the stems and it will soon make them easily removable.

5. Gotu Kola

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The Gotu Kola plant is known for its healing process.  It acts on various phases of connective tissue development and stimulation.  It heals ulcers, decreases capillary fragility, skin injuries, and stimulation of the lipids and protein neessary for healthy skin.  The crushed leaves are poulticed to treat open sores.  As well as treat leprosy, increase attention span and concentration, and revitalize the brain and nervous system.