When you think of herbal remedies and medicinal herbs, modern natural healing may come to mind. Using wild medicine is a secret to keep away from the threat of conventional medicine, so it may seem like a natural approach to good health at times.
However, medicinal healing is centuries old. You should be speaking of ancient herbal remedies from Egypt, and even from China. Usage of honey, use of raspberry, fenugreek, licorice, garlic, and acacia are traditions that have been in place for thousands of years and beyond, not modern practices.
It isn’t the town’s most recent game. Actually, the latest game in town, the hustle of conventional medicine or big pharma, is seeking to snuff out these natural remedies in order to replace the public with their powdered capsules. Now we are faced with an opiate epidemic which is tearing families apart at the seams and killing people who came for a response to modern medicine.
The great news is, these natural remedies are still embedded in the soil and await to be found again. They await you with the knowledge and the ability to turn them into medicine that can get you through the winter seasons.
Methods For Using Medicinal Herbs
Fall is the harvest season for a reason. There are all sorts of great wild foods and medicines that hit their height during the fall season.
Fall also includes the amazing end of summer where plants spit out berries and other components of the fruiting cycle. With that, fall gives the first frost to many parts of the nation, too. This frost is having a profound effect especially on things like roots and rose hips.
When you harvest roots, you really want to take those late in the season and most of them are better harvested when the above plant has died off. It will give you peak strength in the roots. To use these wild medicines; at peak efficiency; you will likely turn to four methods:
These are herb and alcohol mixes that help to extract the essentials from these herbs. You want to be sure you have a large jar with enough room to cover the herbs completely and leave some extra room as the herbs tend to soak up the alcohol.
2. Medicinal Oils
This is the simple practice of placing chopped herbs in a high quality oil and then allowing it to sit for a week or two.
Salves are often a mix of your medicinal oils and beeswax. These are used to create a soothing compound that you can rub on your skin. 3:1 oil to beeswax is a great ratio to use for the salve.
4. Herbal Infusions
Herbal infusions or herbal teas are an incredible way to get the essence of the plant into your system. You can use a variety of combinations that will work in tandem to both heal and sooth. A great tea ratio is 2 cups of water to 1 tablespoon of dried herbs. Double the herb amount for fresh cut herbs.
They are kind of like Uber teas. The herbs or roots are boiled in a decoction. You can use the same base ration for herb decoctions but know that seeds and roots are much more potent and might require a little more thought. The contents should be boiled and then simmered for 20 minutes.
Dandelion root is one of my favorite wild medicines, as it can be roasted to deliver a coffee-like drink, no caffeine but still delicious. This can be used for stimulating appetite in tea, act as a mild laxative, and improve stomach upset.
The yellow flower or furry “wish” tops and the edible leaves make this common plant very easy to distinguish. It’s in most yards and on roadsides all over.
Comfrey taken internally can be toxic. It is used as a salve for healing bones and the root can also be used as a gargle for throat conditions. Use the salve ration above to create your own comfrey salve.
Burdock is one of those roots where the effects can be a little diluted. You will find literature indicating that burdock helps with basically everything! Some of the very best ways to deal with skin problems is a good salve. Being rich in vitamins C and E you can also rely on burdock to help with immunity.
Of course, the bright pink flowers and the prickly heads are the perfect way to distinguish between other plants and this powerful medicinal plant.
There’s a lot to say about nettle root but above all one thing stands out. You can take the root internally to help with enlarged prostate.You should use the root if you want the effects on the prostate. The leaves are also a nutritious food, and they lose the 7 minute itch once they are blanched.
Search for these jagged leaves near a water source if you’re hunting to ID nettles. If you want to be 100% certain, just touch some leaves and reach out. If you don’t want to feel the nettle stinging, make sure to bring gloves along.
Related: How to Cook Spring Nettles
Poke root is one of those warriors for inflammation that many people turn to for issues like swollen glands, tonsillitis, and even laryngitis. Be careful as the poke berries, leaves, and stems are poisonous. Be careful of dosage as the root can be poisonous, too in high doses.
Pokeweed grows out of control where permitted. The beautiful dark purple berries look like something that ought to be edible but it isn’t. The long stalks and purple berries are the best way to identify this plant, by far.
The raspberry leaf tea is one of the very best teas you can make. It has a fantastic taste and for the ladies, it boasts stuff like increased fertility and even ease of labor. I still have trouble believing the latter. It is both an effective digestive aid and a booster for immune systems.
If the raspberries are gone then the easiest way to locate the raspberry leaf on a thorned stalk is to search for the simple three veined leaves. Remains of the raspberries that were there are presumably to be found at the tips.
The Jewelweed tincture is your best weapon against the brutal effects of things like poison ivy, sumac, and oak. You can also use a poultice or decoction to treat the itching and the rash.
The unusual leaves of Jewelweed have an almost blue hue to them and the red stalk is difficult to overlook. This is another water’s edge plant like nettle. It has an incredibly vibrant orange flower when it flowers, which literally pops out seeds when you touch it, thus the name spotted touch me not.
Rosemary is one of those herbs that strike a bit of everything in the gang buster. My suggestion is to get a little rosemary in everything. Place it in the salves, make a decoction, brew it in tea, spread it out everywhere. This is a good antibacterial, and also a great burning incense!
The garden herb is probably growing right now in your herb garden. If not, tell tale smell to this plant with its incredible ID. That strange pine like look and token rosemary scent is a dead giveaway.
The elderberry tincture and its derivatives have long been a cold- and flu-season medication. Now is the time for those berries to be found. You can make this simple tincture right in a mason jar and save it for when you need it most.
When you’re new to foraging, the clusters of dark berries can be confused with poke. There are several more berries and the elderberry is a shrub that is bigger than the plain pokeweed. ID with the berries and the reddish branches from which they hang.
A master immune booster rose hips are full of vitamin C. Harvesting these little berries is dependent upon the weather. You really don’t want to forage for these until the first frost. You see, this pulls sugar into the rose hip and softens them.
You can eat these straight away or make a tincture or even a tea out of them.
These are literally the fruits of the common rosebush. Where there were roses there will be rose hips. Pay attention in the spring and you will know where to find them in the fall.
The juglone in black walnut husks is a powerful antifungal and can be used to treat skin conditions. The leaves and stems are used to treat all sorts of things, too. Can be used to treat the respiratory system with green walnut. It is highly toxic so be careful with that stuff. I’d stay away from oral consumption of black walnut.
Walnut producing trees are big. They also drop lots of green husked walnuts that are very easy to ID in the Fall.
While the fact that willows have Salicylic acid in the bark most articles don’t talk about quantities. That is what you need to know. Of course, salicylic acid is the active ingredient in aspirin.
A tea or decoction of 1 to 3 grams of bark will give the body 60-120 mg of salicine. This can be used for treating fever and pain.
Willows are known by their thick, slender, pointed leaves. The weeping willow is often near water and has those hanging, or weeping, branches.
Forging wild medicine in autumn is a wonderful practice, it is a great family activity and a cycle that is as ancient as some of our oldest civilizations. This collection contains some powerhouse herbs and plants but there are many out there.
I encourage you to create a “menu” from this base knowledge and a method through which you can take advantage of the wild medicine that the natural world produces each year. Know how those plants can be processed. The basic processes mentioned above won’t take much time and by catching it early and using this medication to cure you will be able to stave off colds and illness.