Monday, July 15, 2019

Echinacea--Its Most Important Uses in a TEOTWAWKI Situation

Up next:  Common and Off-Label Uses of Antihistamines

Disclaimer.  I am not a licensed health practitioner.  This is just another post on an item you might wish to have available if needed so that a physician can treat you and your family as best as possible.  No medication, including those available over the counter, should be taken without consulting a physician.  Information shared here is for educational and entertainment purposes only.  It is not medical advice nor a substitute for licensed medical care.  A qualified, licensed physician or other medical provider should be consulted before beginning any herbal or conventional treatment.

Great Plains Indians historically used echinacea in alleviating pain, and it's been used in German medicine for over one hundred years in treating sore throats and upper respiratory infections.  Echinacea sales rocketed a few decades ago in this country as it was touted in the popular press for treating colds and flu.  Echinacea isn't my first choice for those conditions.  It's not even second or third.  But it is a powerful herb, and one you probably don't want to be without in some form.

The three most popular species of echinacea, and the most researched--Echinacea angustifolia, pallida, and purpurea, probably shouldn't be thought of as interchangeable.  Dr. Patrick Jones (author of HomeGrown Herbalist) favors purpurea for being a more robust plant.  He also suggests that Rudbeckia hirta and Rudbeckia lancinata may be acceptable substitutes for echinacea.  Stephen Buhner (author of Herbal Antibiotics) and Sam Coffman (author of The Herbal Medic) assert that these species are not interchangeable.  The arguments boil down to the following:
  • angustifolia and pallida roots are more medicinal than purpurea roots.
  • purpurea flowers are more medicinal than angustifolia and pallida flowers.
  • purpurea is not effective for influenza.
  • If purpurea is all that you have, use double to triple the recommended dosage for treatment.
  • angustifolia is what Buhner and Coffman recommend for treating snake and spider bites
  • Jones generally uses only the aerial parts of purpurea, except in snake and spider bites, where he also uses the root.
Echinacea angustifolia and purpurea are both reported to be easily grown perennials.  Purpurea is generally easier to start from seed than angustifolia (and much easier to find seeds for).  Both species of seed benefit from a stratification period for maximum germination. 


Fresh juice.  The fresh juice of the aerial parts of purpurea are fantastic, and indeed this is often used in German medicine.  The juice is most potent when the flowers are in seed.  Everything above the ground is juiced.  It is best used when fresh and is taken up to six times per day in acute conditions. 

Tincture.  According to Dr. Buhner, the tincture is best prepared in the following manner:
  • Fresh flower heads in seed, in a 1:2 ratio of one part herb to two parts alcohol, or
  • Dried root, 1:5 ratio.  Both use 70% alcohol (140 proof).
The tincture may be used to treat the following conditions, when there is no competent, licensed medical care available:
  • Snake and poisonous spider bites--Internally, take 30 drops each hour.  Externally, apply as a poultice or soak, if possible, and change every 2-4 hours.
  • Strep throat--full strength, held in mouth, mixed with lots of saliva, swirled around, and slowly swallowed.
  • Septicemia, typhoid, and diphtheria--1 teaspoon of angustifolia tincture every 30 minutes, held in mouth for 1 minute before swallowing.  Take 30 minutes after taking piperine to get it into the bloodstream even more quickly.  
  • Influenza--Use tincture in equal amounts with red root and licorice tinctures, 30 drops every hour until symptoms resolve.  This is most effective when taken at the first sign of illness, the first signs of a sore throat.  Use full strength, held in the mouth, mixed with lots of saliva, and swallowed as slowly as possible.
  • Urinary tract infections--1 teaspoon every 2 hours.
  • External wounds, and especially infected wounds--1/2 to 1 teaspoon every 30-60 minutes.
Infusion:  Steep two teaspoons dried flower in one cup boiling water for ten minutes.  This is an effective pain reliever for the following conditions:
  • gonorrhea;
  • measles;
  • sore throat and tonsillitis;
  • toothache;
  • stomachache;
  • headache.
Wound powder:  Echinacea powder is indicated for new or infected wounds.  It is especially effective when combined with Usnea, goldenseal, oak, or wormwood powders.

Poultice:  Mix echinacea powder with water until it is thick and place the sludge on the affected area for pain relief as well as treating infection and hastening healing.

Note that for influenza and other viruses afflicting the nose and throat, capsules of echinacea are not effective.  Echinacea does indeed possess remarkable anti-viral properties, but it only works if it comes into direct contact with the affected tissue.  Capsules take the echinacea past the irritated throat directly to the stomach.  Tinctures, especially when swished around in the mouth, let the echinacea come into direct contact with the virus, thus effectively killing the virus.

Contraindications.  Avoid if allergic to ragweeds.  Avoid if using clarithromycin (Biaxin) or lovastatin.  Avoid in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis or tuberculosis.  Echinacea may slow the breakdown of caffeine in the body, causing jitters and an increased heart rate.

Cautions:  May cause joint pain, nausea, and/or dizziness in sensitive individuals or in case of overdosing.

For further reading
Sam Coffman, The Herbal Medic, pp 224-227.
Stephen Buhner, Herbal Antivirals.
Stephen Buhner, Herbal Antibiotics, pp 268-281.

© 2019,

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Introduction to More Exciting Pressure Canning

When people decide to acquire a pressure canner, it is usually so that they can preserve excess garden produce.  But there is so much more that can be done--so much that is quite tasty and will be very desirable in the dark days ahead.  Pressure-canned foods add variety to the diet, especially in a world lacking fresh and frozen foods.
Now, I'm not going to reproduce the Ball Blue Book of Canning (hereafter the BBB) here.  Everyone should have a copy of that for reference for basic guidelines, correct preparation, and accurate processing times.  What I do want to do is explore some ideas for using a canner to prepare some less conventional foods that will save you time and definitely boost morale.


Most vegetables are canned per instructions in the BBB.  There's just not a lot that is exciting or different to add.  And actually, I usually prefer to dehydrate vegetables when possible.  But there are some situations where the dehydrated version just doesn't work as well in recipes.  One of those is dehydrated shredded zucchini.  Don't get me wrong; I do actually dehydrate quite a bit some years.  But when I rehydrate the zucchini for making cakes and breads, it doesn't reconstitute perfectly.  And some baked goods I want to have absolutely perfect.  And of course, I do just put several bags of shredded zucchini in the freezer, but I'm preparing for a time without easy electricity, so every year or so I can a few pints of shredded zucchini.  It gets packed in jars and processed per instructions for squash in the BBB.  And then when we want zucchini bread or cupcakes, we don't have to wait for the dehydrated stuff to rehydrate, nor are we dealing with cupcakes that are a little on the chewy side because the zucchini didn't fully reconstitute.

The other exception around here is potatoes. Yeah, lots of people can potatoes, but we never really cared for the texture, and unless they were being used in a stew, we never seemed to get around to eating them.  However, there is that other more popular way of eating potatoes in this country, the French fry.  Even if the pressure canner was not used for anything else, it would be worthwhile (in this family, at least) to acquire just to be able to have French fries when the grid goes down. These fries are so incredibly divine. Unfortunately, I can’t give you a taste. You’ll just have to trust me. Canning French fries is one of the first articles I posted on this blog; as such, not a lot of people have read it yet. All the work is done in the canning; when you wish to eat some fries (which will be often!), open the jar and put the fries into a strainer. Thoroughly rinse and drain to remove excess starch. Deep fry in peanut oil until they reach a golden brown. If your family is just not into the food storage thing because it's too horrible to contemplate eating that stuff, give these French fries a try.  You'll see a complete one-eighty as they realize food storage can be really good.

Dry Beans
Dry beans aren’t a particularly exciting item to can, unless you get excited about saving money, time, and energy. Dry beans normally take hours to prepare for each meal. By utilizing a pressure canner, you prepare beans for several meals at once, saving money now and time down the road. So how is it done?  Dry beans are truly one of the easiest items to can and a great way to get started with pressure canning.  Basically, you soak the beans for several hours or overnight; rinse, drain, and cook; fill jars about 2/3 full; add boiling water and salt; and process.  It might sound like a lot of work, but it is really quick and easy, and not at all messy.  Complete instructions are here


Canning in the meat world is just like canning in the fruit and vegetable world--follow directions and be careful.  There's nothing scary about it, and preparing meats is a lot faster and easier than preparing produce.  All meats are canned exactly as outlined in the BBB.  However, here are a few ideas for preparing and packaging meats for other uses.  Food fatigue is a real thing, and having a variety of tasty and familiar foods in our menu will be essential to maintaining morale in the coming crisis.
  • Beef. I can a good quantity of stew meat to be used as is in stews, but also to be shredded for use as taco filling, French dips, etc. Ground beef also gets browned and canned so that I can make soups and casseroles very quickly. Most people who are preppers and canners are already familiar with this. However, I know it will be very nice in the future to also be able to have a hamburger now and then. Obviously stew meat won’t work for this purpose, and neither will ground beef that hasn’t had a little extra preparation.  See here for complete directions for canning hamburger patties.
  • Pork. Some pork is canned in chunks for later use in chili or to be shredded for taquito filling or super quick pulled pork sandwiches. Leftover ham from Christmas and Easter (we always get a large one for just this purpose) gets canned for adding to soups or fried rice.  This is only for hams that are were not smoked or cured (which, I realize, most are).  The Cooperative Extension has never tested the safety of canning smoked or cured meats, including bacon.  It may be perfectly safe; it may not be. 
  • Bacon.  The Cooperative Extension does not recommend canning bacon for a variety of reasons, all of which are sound. That being said, there are still a lot of people doing it.  I admit to it myself, but now only for bacon ends and pieces, and not the strips that are "dry-canned."  I have posted on bacon in the past, including how people do it and exactly why the Cooperative Extension opposes the practice.  
  • Chicken. Home-canned chicken makes for quick chicken salad sandwiches or adding to a summer salad for a main dish meal. And with a can of chicken on hand, it takes no time to get homemade chicken noodle soup ready when someone comes down with a cold.
  • Chicken bones. This isn't being recommended as food for people, though apparently in some cultures chicken bones do get thoroughly cooked and mashed or blended in some dishes.  I'm not entirely sold on the safety of this in general, but it does work for making chicken bouillon.  However, chicken bones can be pressure canned, just like chicken meat is, for feeding cats.  After being pressure canned, the hollow bones are easily mashed with a fork and fed to cats. Unfortunately, the chicken bones are too high in protein to be fed to dogs (may cause kidney damage).
Convenience foods

Pressure canning is great for preserving the harvest, but it’s also ideal for making life easier with convenience foods for days when we're just too busy or sick to cook.  A ready supply of stew, chili, and soup provides peace of mind for those situations when they arise.  Each family will have its own favorite recipes, so I'll refrain from posting any here.  Most any recipe can be adapted for canning, one just needs to always remember to process for the time stated for the ingredient that needs the most time and highest pressure.  Read your BBB for specific guidelines here.

A pressure canner is going to cost $100-$300. But the peace of mind that comes from preparing your own food? Priceless.

Links to related posts:
A Few Thoughts on Pressure Canners
Canning French Fries  
Canning Refried Beans  
Canning Hamburger Patties
Canning Bacon 
Canning Chicken
Canning Ham
Canning Pork 

© 2019,  

Friday, July 12, 2019

Coconut Oil for Butter in Magic Mix

A couple of months ago as I was substituting coconut oil for butter in baking some cookies, I got to wondering whether it would work to substitute coconut oil for butter in Magic Mix.  It's one thing to making cookies and cornbread with coconut oil, but how would it work in cream soups?  Gravy?  Pudding?
The idea of it kind of even grossed me out.  It just seems like eating that much oil could not possibly taste good, even though butter is pretty close to oil.  It's a huge mental block for me.  But in the interest of trying this out before TEOTWAWKI, I finally made myself do it.  I mean, I've had the idea for this post in the line-up of articles for at least six weeks, maybe longer, and I kept pushing it out.

So here are the results:
  • Magic Mix chocolate pudding--could not detect a difference, even though we knew it was coconut oil instead of butter.
  • Magic Mix cream of chicken soup--nobody noticed.
  • Cheeseburger Mac 'n' Cheese--nobody noticed.  
There is a con to this substitution.  When it is stored in the refrigerator, the coconut oil hardens up a bit much and cannot easily be scooped into a measuring cup, whereas Magic Mix made with butter goes right into the measuring cup without any problem.  However, the coconut oil Magic Mix combines perfectly well with water on the stove.  Of course, the solution is not to store Coconut Oil Magic Mix in the refrigerator.  There's no water in the oil, so nothing to get the milk wet and initiate conditions conducive to spoiling.  Thus, no refrigeration required.

Overall, I am now convinced that I need to store even more coconut oil.  It works beautifully in everything I've tried it in.  It's far cheaper than dehydrated butter, canned butter, ghee, and sometimes even cheaper than regularly priced butter at the grocery store.  And it has a good shelf-life--at least five years, in my experience.  

 © 2019,

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Cast Iron Pans To Boost Iron Intake

Every once in a while someone says something along the lines of the importance of using cast iron pans to boost your supplemental iron intake, or one of the advantages of using cast iron over other kinds of pans is that you can get your iron instead of having to take a supplement.
What very few people seem to understand, however, is that those statements are only partially true.

An awful lot depends on how well-seasoned your pan is, what you're cooking, and for what amount of time.

Here's what you need to know:
  • Older, well-seasoned pans leach less iron than newer, less seasoned pans.
  • Along the same lines, pans that food does not stick in release less iron than pans that food does stick in.
Those points should make sense.  If there's no real contact or exchange occurring because the food isn't sticking, there isn't going to be any additional iron in the food.
  • Iron comes in different forms.  The iron in a cast iron pan is in the non-heme form, which is not assimilated, or taken up by the body, as easily as the heme form of iron.  This latter form is what is found in red meat.  And that is why red meat is a good source of iron.  
  • Vitamin C and acidity help release iron from the pan and get it into your food.  So when using cast iron, cooking foods with tomato sauce or lemon juice or vinegar is going to get more iron into your food.
  • Cooking with liquids, cooking longer, and stirring more often will all also get more iron into your food.  The more contact, the more opportunities for contact with the iron pan, the more iron will get into your food.  
There isn't an exact science to this, and unfortunately, one of the key reasons for using cast iron--the ability to season a pan well and develop a natural, yet virtually non-stick surface, actually prevents you from getting iron into your diet.  If you've got a really well-seasoned pan, the amount of iron you're getting is virtually zero.  You'll have to boost your intake in other ways.  Unless you want to scrub the pan every night, which is totally an option, and may be what you need to do in a collapse situation if you're anemic.

Links to related posts:
Cleaning Cast Iron Pans
15-Cent Baking Rack for Dutch Ovens
Dutch Oven Temperature Chart and Guidelines 

For further information:

© 2019,   

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Book Review: The Survival Medicine Handbook

As noted on the cover, The Survival Medicine Handbook, by Dr. Joe Alton and Nurse Amy Alton, is "a guide for when medical help is NOT on the way."  The second edition is significantly expanded and revised; don't cheat yourself by purchasing a first edition copy. 
Like other off-grid medicine authors and teachers, the Altons firmly believe that an educated lay person with good training can successfully address 80-90 % of the medical issues they will encounter when society collapses and there is no advanced medical care available.  Some of these cases may even be life-threatening.  Like administering the right antibiotic for an infection.  But they aren't necessarily complicated, and that's why the Altons have written this book.

The book has a few shortcomings.  There are approximately twenty pages at the beginning that are basically preaching to the choir.  Those who are preparing for TEOTWAWKI don't really need any more encouragement to do so.   And the same goes for the chapter devoted to natural disasters; preppers living in earthquake country or tornado alley are likely to have already prepared for these scenarios.  However, the information on treating smoke inhalation due to wildfire is valuable.  There also isn't a lot of information on lice-, tick-, flea-, and mosquito-borne diseases, which is probably the greatest weakness of this book.  And there's nothing about quarantine and isolation for preventing the spread of disease.  But that's also why having a few off-grid medicine resources is critical.  If one book doesn't address your concern, another most likely will.

Like most, if not all, survival medicine books, there are lists of suggested items to include in your various medical kits and the recommended quantities.  The Survival Medicine Handbook is written at a higher level than Armageddon Medicine (reviewed here), but it shouldn't be over the head of anyone with at least some college education, and at half the cost of Armageddon Medicine.  However, it's probably not as thorough as Survival and Austere Medicine, 3rd Edition (reviewed here), which is free. 

Now for the topics that The Survival Medicine Handbook covers well.
  • Moreso than any other off-grid medicine book, this one includes alternative medicine and natural treatments, including essential oils, right in with conventional therapies; the alternative treatments aren't an afterthought relegated to the back of the book.
  • There is also an entire chapter dedicated to growing a medicinal herb garden for making your own medicine, because pharmaceuticals will eventually run out.
  • This book contains a glossary of medical terms; most do not. 
  • Dr. Alton is an OB-GYN, so there is a very solid chapter on birth control, pregnancy, and delivery.  
  • There is pretty solid information on treating dental problems.
  • This is the only book I've seen that addresses altitude sickness and treatment.  
  • There's a good section on radiation.
  • This book includes more information on using an epi-pen than I've seen elsewhere.
  • And there is a respectable section on administering local anesthesia and nerve blocks. 
The Survival Medicine Handbook is nearly 600 pages of text on 6x9" pages, in what looks like a 10- or 11-point font.  There's little room for note-taking, but there are helpful illustrations and photographs.  I'd say it's worth investing in.

Links to related posts:
Book review--Armageddon Medicine  
Book review--Survival and Austere Medicine, 3rd Edition   

© 2019,   

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Managing Snake Bites in a Post-Apocalyptic World

Disclaimer.  I am not a licensed health practitioner.  This is just another post on an item you might wish to have available if needed so that a physician can treat you and your family as best as possible.  No medication, including those available over the counter, should be taken without consulting a physician.  Information shared here is for educational and entertainment purposes only.  It is not medical advice nor a substitute for licensed medical care.  A qualified, licensed physician or other medical provider should be consulted before beginning any herbal or conventional treatment.
About fifteen years ago, my father-in-law was marking out an orienteering course in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains for about sixty eleven-year-old Boy Scouts when he came across an old rattlesnake (how he knew that he was old, I'm not sure)He didn't think much of it.  Rattlesnakes being rattlesnakes, he assumed the old snake would move on, especially with all the foot traffic of a bunch of scouts.

Except for the fact that that old snake didn't read the manual, or he was too old to care.

My son, Luke, was in the first group of scouts to use the course that day.  In the lead.  With the compass, and much more focused on the compass than on the ground in front of him.  (Which is not what the scouts are taught to do, but they were eleven years old, after all.)  And through the compass Luke sees that he is about to step on a rattlesnake.  The same old rattlesnake that Grandpa left there an hour or so earlier.  Apparently, it is entirely possible for a skinny boy to execute a standing long jump of about ten feet backwards and sideways.  I don't recall whether they moved the snake or altered the course.  I do recall that I was not pleased with my father-in-law that day.

There are two kinds of venomous snakes found in the continental US.  All snakes are most active in warmer temperature and seasons, so that is when most bites occur.   Unlike what is shown on TV, especially the old westerns, many snakes are active at night and they hide in logs, under rocks, and in old structures.  Also, especially in contrast to what's on TV, snakes don't always leave the scene of the crime.  (I guess the old geezer rattler got one thing right.)  It may still have venom to inject.  If it didn't flee the scene, the victim and everyone else should.  Of course, if possible, killing the snake for positive identification is an idea.  Just be aware that a dead snake is not necessarily harmless; it can still bite for awhile even after the head has been severed from the body. Oh, and a lot of people are actually bitten while trying to kill snakes.

Rattlesnakes are the most common venomous snake bite in the US, and generally the most dangerous.  But there is a wide range of toxicity among the species of rattlesnakes.  The pygmy rattlesnake is at the low end of the spectrum; the Mojave Green is more often deadly.

Venomous snakes have hollow fangs through which they deliver their venom; however, not every bite is envenomating.  That is, about 20-30% of bites are actually dry.  No venom, no ill effects.  (Kinda like no harm, no foul.)  Another 30-40% of bites are considered lightly envenomating because the snake either didn't inject much or some was lost in the air before or after the bite.  Even full envenomation does not necessarily equal death.  Beyond that, a lot will depend on the age and size of the patient.  Younger children are more at risk than older children and adults.

So how do you know whether the snake bite was envenomating?  The first clue is that there is a burning pain at the site almost immediately.  And then within a few minutes swelling begins and starts traveling up the affected limb.  Pit viper bites (rattlesnake, water moccasin/cottonmouth, copperhead) may cause bruising and blisters at the bite site.  And the afflicted area may become numb.  The lips or face may also become numb, and some bite victims will say they have a metallic or odd taste in their mouths.  A serious bite may cause spontaneous bleeding from the nose or gums.  The extremities may become numb or start tingling 30-90 minutes later, followed shortly thereafter by nausea, vomiting, and/or fainting.  And during this time the swelling and discoloration of the limb bitten continues to spread. 

Coral snakes have a different type of toxin, a neurotoxin, and thus affect the body in a totally different manner.  Symptom onset is much later, from 4-6 hours up to 12 hours after the bite.  Coral snake venom causes mental and nerve changes such as muscle twitching, mental confusion, and slurred speech.  As the venom spreads, the central nervous system is affected, and there may be problems with swallowing and breathing, and even complete paralysis.  Coral snakes are distinguished from non-venomous king snakes by the following ditty:  "red touches yellow, you're a dead fellow; red touches black, you're ok jack" or something along those lines.  As long as you're in North America.  It's not necessarily true elsewhere.

Some of the distinguishing characteristics of each of the families of venomous snakes:
  • Copperheads have the least potent venom and thus the lowest mortality rate.  Supposedly they are not aggressive, but they account for the highest number of bites.  Their bites result in localized tissue destruction.
  • Cottonmouth venom is next in potency.  They become aggressive when provoked.  Unlike other, non-venomous, water snakes, they swim on top of the water.
  • Rattlesnakes are next in potency, but it varies widely among the species.  Pygmy rattlers are much less toxic than Mojave rattlers, which are more often deadly.  Most snake bite deaths in the US are attributed to Eastern and Western diamondback rattlesnakes.  Rattlesnakes are found throughout the continental US, and the bite causes toxicity throughout the body in addition to an ugly wound.  
  • Coral snakes possess the most potent venom but are the least aggressive, and death from their bites is rare.
Bites from non-venomous snakes and non-envenomating bites are still cause for concern.  They are puncture wounds and there is still the potential for infection as with any other puncture wound.  However, they are less likely to cause infection than cat, dog, or human bites, so antibiotics are not routinely prescribed in this situation.  (Still, I have to admit, I'd prefer a cat or dog bite.) 

The treatment, always, is to get to a hospital for anti-venin (yes, that is how it is spelled).  Nobody carries it in a medical kit or an ambulance.  About 10% of the people treated with anti-venin will have an allergic reaction to it and need to be at a hospital to be treated for the reaction to the anti-venin.  Of course, post-collapse, anti-venin isn't going to be an option.

So, lacking hospitals and anti-venin, how does one go about treating a venomous snake bite post-collapse?  Before getting into that, let's address the "DO NOT"s:

  • Cut the bite and attempt to suck out the venom.
  • Numb with ice.
  • Give the patient alcohol or caffeine.
  • Apply a tourniquet.
  • Use a stun gun.
What about using a Sawyer extractor?  They're very popular among outdoor enthusiasts and survivalists.  Dr. Joe Alton, the docs teaching my off-grid medicine classes, the authors of Survival and Austere Medicine all pretty much agree:  the Sawyer extractor does nothing.  So what about claims from people who have used them and didn't suffer the ill effects of a snake bite?  Remember that 20-30% of bites are non-envenomating.  Another 30% are only lightly envenomating.  That's what worked.  However, if you've already got one, and if someone is bitten, they can still be used.  While you are working to do other things to manage the patient and the bite, give the extractor to someone else.  The patient will calm down because he feels something is being done.  And that's the first thing that needs to happen for treatment.

The steps then for treating a snake bite are as follows:
  • Keep the patient calm.
  • Remove all jewelry and any potentially constricting clothing immediately.
  • Immobilize the limb below the heart.  The venom moves in the lymph.  Any movement at all moves the venom into the body faster.
  • Clean the wound thoroughly, irrigating copiously to remove venom that is not deep in the bite.
  • Use a Sharpie to outline the edge of the swelling and do this frequently to track progression.
  • Complete bed rest for 24-48 hours.  
And that's it in the conventional world of medicine, other than offering OTC pain meds, and antibiotics if infection sets in.  Recovery may take weeks to months.

However, in the alternative medicine world, there is a lot more that can be done.  At least it has been done with animals, and with good results.  Again, for emphasis, the below treatments have only been done with animals for snake bites, and some with humans and poisonous spider bites.  No one has used these with snake bites in people (well, no one has gone on record as far as I can tell).  In a functioning society with advanced medical care, snake bite victims are always sent to a hospital.  The potential consequences of doing otherwise in a litigious society such as ours are too great.
  • Activated charcoal.  If the wound is open enough and fresh enough (less than 30 minutes have passed), make a poultice or plaster with water.  If possible, make a little bath in a basin or small tub to soak the limb in.  Bear in mind, that the activated charcoal has to get to the afflicted tissue to be effective.  It will not work through intact skin.  Do this for 30-60 minutes.  Also, and this should not be done immediately, but just once a day for the next 5-7 days, give the patient 1 capsule (00 size) of activated charcoal per day, two hours before or after any herbs that are taken internally.
  • Echinacea angustifolia, pallida and/or purpurea.  The herbalists disagree on which is more potent.  I suspect it could have something to do with their climate and region.  Dr. Patrick Jones in Idaho favors purpurea.  Sam Coffman of Texas favors angustifolia.  Both recommend applying a plaster or poultice immediately and changing it every 2-4 hours.  Both recommend giving an Echinacea tincture internally.   Sam recommends 1 tablespoon 3 times per day for an adult; Dr. Jones advises 1 tablespoon every 2-4 hours for the first day, then twice per day for a week.  
  • Milk thistle seed, plantain, Joe Pye weed, nettles are all recommended by Sam Coffman for additional support to the body.
  • Dr. Jones also uses dandelion root, echinacea root, plantain, and mallow in equal parts topically and internally every four hours.  If the herbs are fresh, grind them up and apply.  If they are dried, mix them up with a little water for a poultice.  Change the poultice every four hours.  Take the tea (or a tincture of these herbs) internally every 2-4 hours the first day, then twice per day for a week.  This formula may not work for coral snake bites.

Links to related posts:
Echinacea (coming Monday)
Plantain  (coming soon)
Activated Charcoal
Spider Bites
Book Reviews--The Herbal Medic and The HomeGrown Herbalist
Book Review--Survival and Austere Medicine, 3rd Edition
Book Review--The Survival Medicine Handbook (coming tomorrow)

For more information:
Dr. Patrick Jones, The HomeGrown Herbalist, pp 123-26.
Dr. Joseph Alton, The Survival Medicine Handbook, pp 327-30.
Survival and Austere Medicine, 3rd Edition, pp 194-97.
Sam Coffman, The Herbal Medic, pp 80-91.

© 2019, 

Monday, July 8, 2019

Brigham Tea/Squaw Tea/Mormon Tea

Disclaimer.  I am not a licensed health practitioner.  This is just another post on an item you might wish to have available if needed so that a physician can treat you and your family as best as possible.  No medication, including those available over the counter, should be taken without consulting a physician.  Information shared here is for educational and entertainment purposes only.  It is not medical advice nor a substitute for licensed medical care.  A qualified, licensed physician or other medical provider should be consulted before beginning any herbal or conventional treatment.

Mormon tea, the most common name for several species of North American plants related to the Chinese ma huang species, is found only in the western United States.  Ephedra nevadensis and Ephedra viridis are the most common species.  Brigham Young and the Mormon pioneers drank a lot of this, which accounts for one reason for the name.  Perhaps it's because the other names have connotations currently unacceptable in our society.  Squaw tea is one--the local Indians taught the Mormon pioneers about the uses of this plant.  And before that (and before the advent of penicillin), it was commonly referred to by frontiersmen, miners, explorers, and others as whorehouse tea, due to its use in curing syphilis and gonorrhea and reported efficacy in inducing miscarriage.  I'm happy with the term Mormon tea.

Time to harvest:  Mormon tea can be harvested at any time and dried for later use.  Most people have to make a special trip to collect it--it's not something you normally plant, and even if you could find it at a nursery, it grows too slowly to be used for medicine.  I have acres of it and juniper, so I can just walk outside a hundred feet and pick whatever I need.

Alternative:  Mormon tea is often touted as an alternative to Chinese ephedra, ma huang.  However, the North American species do not contain any ephedra and there is no risk associated with its use like there is with ma huang. Its stimulant properties are due to tannins and alkaloids.

Medicinal uses:  Mormon tea is an antihistamine and mild diuretic and it is high in calcium.  It is especially effective in drying up mucus secretions to alleviate runny noses and scratchy throats.  Historically, it has been used to treat:
  • rheumatism;
  • high blood pressure;
  • colds and coughs;
  • mild asthma;
  • gonorrhea and syphilis;
  • mild bladder infections and kidney ailments;
  • osteoporosis. 
However, it is important to note that while Native Americans and others used Mormon tea to treat venereal diseases, there is no research to support the efficacy of this use.  Better stick with abstinence before marriage and fidelity afterwards.

Tincture:  According to Stephen Buhner, the dried herb is tinctured in a 1:5 weight to volume ratio, in 50% alcohol.  The dosage is 15-30 drops.  It is best used in conjunction with other herbs.

Infusion:  Pour boiling water over leaves (actually, they look a lot more like pine needles).  Steep 10 minutes, covered.  Strain, add sugar or honey, and drink. 

Contraindication:  Not for use by pregnant women in the first trimester.

Cautions:  Use as tea is safe in moderation. 

For further reading:
Stephen Buhner, Herbal Antibiotics, p 370.
Patrick Jones, The HomeGrown Herbalist, pp 103-105.

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