Taking Charge of Our Own Health

This guest post by Frugal Prepper and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.

I have been interested in my family’s health for a long time and am careful to provide good nutrition, limit sugar and processed foods and concentrate mainly on good wholesome homemade foods, although we also greatly enjoy desserts and treats.J When one of us gets sick, we do not run to the doctor, but I do research instead and then treat whatever the condition is with natural methods if at all possible. We DO go to the dr if necessary, but not for little things. I have planned for some health issues and keep several things on hand to treat things that crop up more often like sore throats, colds, flu, sore muscles, sprains, minor cuts or burns or other ailments. This has worked well and we tend to be very healthy and do not get sick often, thankfully.

Several years ago, one of my sons was born with medical problems which threw us very completely into the medical community and while we were very thankful for what doctors/medicine could do, we also saw many of the limitations. Our son had a trach and a heart problem and his failure to thrive and near starvation diagnosis was painful to hear and it was horrible to watch the deterioration of his health. The doctors did what they could, but eventually when not sure what else to do, said that “he will outgrow it and get better”, but he didn’t and we watched him get worse and fought to keep him alive. It was severely exhausting to be the main caregiver with all that was involved and to keep up with our 2 year old son at the same time. Our son’s dire condition and my continued exhaustion and a stress fracture led us to pursue a nutrition doctor who tested my son and I and put us on an intense program of vitamins and nutrition. This greatly increased my interest in our health as I saw gradual improvements in both of us. Thus began my hunger to learn more and more about how I could influence our health and not just accept whatever illness came along. By the way, as our son stopped losing weight so fast, a doctor told me, “See, I told you he would outgrow it”. I never let on that we had spent hundreds and thousands of dollars on vitamin therapy to get him to that point.

Through the years as he grew, I did lots of research and we continued with the nutrition doctors as we could afford it and we were able to supplement his medical care with great results. He had dozens and dozens of surgeries and it was a rough time. Thankfully, he was able to go the last 6 years with NO SURGERIES and NO medication which was a record for him, as he had normally had many surgeries each year and medications for before, during or after surgery. During these last 6 years we have done lots of nutrition and he has responded wonderfully and even has his own lawn business now at 21. What a blessing. We haven’t gone to nutrition doctors for a long time, so it is even more important that we know how to use the plants and nutrition that God has provided for us.

Recently, he had to have another surgery to remove some metal rods in his back that were causing problems and since he is stronger than ever before and in better health, he did well even though it was a big surgery and he has a long incision with 64 staples in his back. His doctor was great and the nurses were nice and helpful, but this hospital experience was different than other ones. Our experience has been that when a person is released from the hospital, they must ride a wheelchair to the front of the hospital to be picked up and are escorted by hospital personnel – it is hospital policy. Well, this time, when he was released, he was not wheeled down (not complaining, just saying), nor was he walked down. When he was released and paperwork signed, the nurse left his room and we were just to leave on our own and he walked all the way to the parking garage. It was also strange because he had just had major back surgery 2 days earlier and had only that morning been able to walk without holding onto the IV pole. He was expected to be in the hospital for 3-4 days, but was rather suddenly released after only 2 days. There were also other oddities that made it seem that things are changing, and not for the better, in hospital care. Another person that we know is currently in a hospital after major trauma in an accident and their family is reporting that the hospital is no longer allowed to set a schedule to give out pain meds, but that pain meds are only to be given when the patient requests them as long as it is after the right amount of time. We suspect that Obamacare is already affecting medical care and that will only get worse. We have read articles where medical personnel advise not going to the hospital unless you can’t help it.

I think that we dare not leave our health only in the hands of the “professionals”. It is vitally important that we know how to treat our own health – at least in minor things. Our experience over the years has been that drugs are easily given to treat conditions and when the drug causes a side effect, then another drug is given to help that problem and so on. We faced that with multiple drugs and side effects and didn’t know where to turn as our son’s body reacted to the drugs, but he had to take them. I determined to learn all that I could and thankfully, we had a couple of doctors years ago who were glad to answer my many questions and help me to understand my son’s many problems and aid me in my research. They actually encouraged my study and complimented us on the care we were giving to our son. Several medical people commented that they were sure that our son would not have done nearly so well if we hadn’t done the things we were doing.

We, as Preppers, expect for something “bad” to happen that will change life as we know it and we are preparing in many ways for that. One way that I am preparing is to continue to learn and use what I have learned to aid our health. I have learned how to do many medical things from changing a trach, inserting an ng feeding tube, then caring for a g tube (stomach feeding tube) and even how to insert a new one, which is not something lay people are normally ever taught to do. I don’t expect to need that knowledge again, but it is helpful to know that I CAN do it if I have to. There is so much that I cannot do; however. I can’t do surgeries (although I did a minor surgery once!) and I do not know how to suture, although I do hope to learn how to suture a cut. No, I do not know how to do many of the things that doctors and nurses can do and I will not learn many of them, BUT, I can learn a lot about the human body and how to treat it.

I have a growing knowledge of herbs and their uses. It is very easy to make herbal tinctures – and they are so useful for all kinds of things. Elderberry tincture works great for flu and I have a combination tincture that works great for kidney problems, another one to strengthen the liver, another one to get rid of parasites, another to help digestion and so on. It is also easy to make herbal salves and they work great. A supply of herbs to use for teas is a great addition to your preps, as well as some helpful herb books. There are many nutrition books that will give ideas for treating ailments – using vitamins, foods, herbs and other things. These are very valuable when you have a problem to deal with and don’t know what to do. I like to have actual books since there could be a time that my computer will not be available, plus I am a person who just LIKES a hard copy that I can highlight or take notes in. I also like to have a variety of them since sometimes a problem comes up that is not addressed in every book.

An example is that many health problems come from digestive problems – like constipation. Toxins can build in the intestinal tract and make a person sick, so that is a good thing to know about and know how to treat naturally. Treatments can include vitamins, herbal teas, poultices, extra fluids, coffee enema, etc. By the way, a coffee enema has been a wonderful way to quickly bring down a fever by getting rid of the toxins causing the fever and shortening the sickness. Also, there are so many wonderful recipes for making things like homemade toothpaste that can actually benefit the teeth and make them stronger. Earaches can come quickly and are very painful. Do you know what to do? Are you dependent on having to go to the doctor to have it treated? What if you can’t? What will you do? There are wonderful eardrops available that can help stop the infection, especially if started early rather than when the infection has gotten worse. You can even make eardrops of common household items and it is a great knowledge to have if you need it. I have made eardrops from onions in a desperate time and they did work. Massage is also important for things like ear infections since many times the drainage gets plugged up and infection sets in. Massage along the ear, neck, and collarbone is simple to do and can help to get things moving again. There is no magic in any of this, but so many things can be very helpful. We also use a detox bath to help our health and put things like baking soda, ginger, cayenne pepper, Epsom salts, essential oils in it, depending on what we are detoxing.

Kefir is easy to make if you can get starter grains from someone or buy them off of the internet. Then just let it sit in a jar of milk for a day or 2 on the counter and it forms wonderfully healthy probiotics. We make smoothies with it most days and add fruits and veggies to it. Essential oils can be used to help with nasal congestion, cleansing a room of sick odors, getting rid of bacteria and more. They last a long time and a supply of these could be invaluable. Growing a few herbs is easy and many of them are perennial, meaning that after planting them once, they just keep coming back, so are there when you need them. Drying herbs is simple and it is pleasant to have the smell of them in the house, not to mention knowing that you have them if you need them. Another good thing is to know what is native to your area that you could harvest if you needed to – herbs like plantain (considered a weed) are great to help with stings and they are found in most of the U.S. There are many things that can be used wherever you live and it is a good idea to figure out what a few of them are and know how to use them.

Does a person have to do EVERYthing there is? NO, even adding a few bits of knowledge and ability could greatly increase your chances of staying healthy, especially in bad times. It is MUCH easier to work to STAY healthy than it is to try to GET healthy after a health crisis. If things do get bad, we will endure many stresses that we do not normally face and it is hard to predict how our bodies will react. I have given you a few ideas of things that can be done to help our own health, but there are LOTS more. Whether you use any of my ideas or find some of your own, adding one or more to what you already do can increase your ability to care for your own and your family’s health. I know that I want to keep on learning and using what I learn. God bless you as you prepare for whatever the future holds.

This contest will end on February 16 2013  – prizes include:

Well what are you waiting for – email your entries today. But please read the rules that are listed below first… thumbs up Taking Charge of Our Own Health

Comments

  1. PGCPrepper says:

    I drink a drop of clove oil in Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar every morning for parasites, along with consuming a crushed garlic clove in sauerkraut :-)

    I also use wild oregano for various things but mainly for my gums. Very strong oils, both. I have to run and just skimmed your postt for now but these are two oils that others should research and think about keeping.

    • I agree that both oils are extremely helpful and they are important in my home also…….the clove oil also works well when a drop is rubbed on the bottom of the feet when a cold or sickness is present……….The apple cider vinegar is wonderfully healthy for preventing much and we use it regularly…….garlic and sauerkraut are great ….and oregano IS strong, but so good for infections(took care of a tooth abcess w/ it once), but hard to take – we put a few drops into an empty capsule and swallow it and it is SO much easier. :)

      • PGCPrepper says:

        Excerpt:

        “Antioxidant Activity of Clove Essential Oil

        Many foods and substances contain antioxidants which absorb free radicals (toxins). Scientists at Tufts University have developed a scale for the U.S. Department of Agriculture called the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity) test. The higher the ORAC score is, the more capable that particular food, spice or herb is of destroying free radicals (antioxidant).

        Essential oils have the highest ORAC scores of any known substance. According to the Essential Oils Desk Reference, 2nd ED., they are as follows:

        Essential Oil (botanical name) ORAC Score

        Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) 2,446
        Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma) 2,517
        Spearmint (Mentha spicata) 5,398
        Lemongrass (Cymbopogen flexuosus) 17,765
        Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) 24,157
        Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamamum verum) 103,448
        Mountain Savory (Satureja montana) 113,071
        Oregano (Origanum compactum) 153,007
        Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) 159,590
        Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) 10,786,875
        These essential oils are even more potent than fruits which are promoted as powerful antioxidants, such as blueberries, ORAC Score 2,400. The last six oils on this chart are even more powerful than Chinese wolfberries, ORAC score 23,300.

        Clove is the champion of all, with an ORAC score over 10 million!! That means a drop of Clove Oil contains 400 times more antioxidants per unit volume than wolfberries, the most powerful of all known fruits, and a 15ml bottle of Clove Oil has the antioxidant capacity of 40 quarts of blueberries. The benefits of breathing, applying and taking clove essential oil internally are far greater than you can imagine.”

        http://www.healingnaturallybybee.com/articles/anti1.php

  2. worrisome says:

    Is there any possibility you can list your top three “go to” books that you use to reference healing herbs and tinctures?

    • I would like to see that list too. I bought a book a while back that was supposed to be really good but I haven’t been all that impressed with it. I am also looking for a good book for identifying local plants/weeds that are edible or useful for remedies.

      • Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs. Written by Steven Foster and James A. Duke. I like it anyway, color pics and an index that allows easy searching by medical topic so you don’t have to re-read the whole thing looking for a plant with particular properties. I’ll admit I’ve only harvested and tried a few local ones (as tea) though.

        We’re growing elderberries, with little success, this far north and in our sandy, acidic soil. I sprinkle our wood ashes around them and feed them compost tea in the growing season, but they just don’t seem to like it here. Our harvest of berries from six 3-year-old plants fit in one hand this past year. From personal experience, they are a great antiviral – although I think I read somewhere it might not be good for use in virus’ that cause a cytokine storm, like SARS or H5N1.

        • Encourager says:

          Elderberries grow in the wild near wet areas. They do not like their roots wet, however. We tried growing them when we first moved here 30 years ago but the plants all died. Then we discovered them all over our area in the wild. Look around you; if they do not grow in the wild around you, I doubt you can get them to do much.

    • My very favorite “go to” book is Prescription For Nutritional Healing by Balch and Balch – there are several editions of this and I do not have the latest edition, but the info is wonderful anyway – you can look up an illness and find remedies in the form of vitamins to use or herbs that help or foods to eat or other treatments – alternative and conventional, or look up a vitamin and find its uses or what a deficiency of it looks like, a section on herbs and what parts of the plant are used, what vitamins they provide and etc. There is great info in the appendix – just a wealth of information and my first recommendation.
      I also have MANY other books (most bought from garage sales/library sales) and I glean info from them about herb uses…one of the books is called Today’s Herbal Health by Louise Tenney. Another great source for info on herbs is The Bulk Herb Store online ( bulkherbstore.com ) – they have recipes and tutorials online and their herbs are great, although I have also bought herbs from other places as well. I love to combine what I learn in different places and make up my own stuff – experimenting w/ this has been helpful. One caution that I would give; however, is that anyone can post things online and I do not automatically trust it, so I like to have more than one source for what I use.

      • Thank you! I’ve added them to my wish list of books. I almost always prefer hard copies, especially when it becomes a reference book.

      • PGCPrepper says:

        I’ve had that Balch and Balch book for 15 years. We liked that one also but haven’t looked at in a while. Not sure where it is but learned a lot from it.

  3. Frugal Prepper,

    Great article! I would love a list of sources as reference and/or a few of your recipes fro the salves, tinctures, and such. I blend my own essential oils and have a lot of success with those, but would like to branch out into using herbs and such. Thanks for writing this!

    • U2redneck says:

      I ditto Shandi and worrisome..would love to know your top go-to books for healing herbs, tinctures, salves, teas, etc! Great article, well done!

    • Thank you for the kind comments. Some items are listed in my comment above….and the bulkherbstore.com website has easy recipes and how-tos for tinctures and salves and I would consider that just a start – once you know the basics of making a tincture or salve, it is easy to tailor them to what YOU specifically want since you can change the herbs you use or add essential oils to make it more useful to you. I have quite a supply of herbs (mostly dried this time of year) and can start a new tincture or salve or tea or infusion as needed.

      If you have dry itchy skin, you can find out in books or online what herbs help that and make your own combination in a salve. Do you have sore muscles often? Check out the herbs that can help and make a salve that smells great and works. Have kidney trouble? Research herbs that help kidneys and make a tincture. Want to make an all around tonic for building immunity? Research herbs (especially what you already have on hand – don’t forget that you can use teas on hand or spices/herbs already in your cupboard also) that will help build immunity and make a tincture. Research any health issue you want to address and make up your combination and try it. This is a WONDERFUL way to enrich your family’s health.

      • Thanks! I’ve added those books (and a few more) to my wish list and bookmarked the website.

  4. Great entry, Frugal Prepper! These are things every prepper should learn. I would like to add that we need exercise, alot of exercise. This will help to reduce some of the stress of prepping for unknown situations. Herbs are usually much easier to grow than vegetables and some even thrive and are more potent growing in poor soil. Be sure to plant mints, etc. away from your vegetable garden because they spread and will “take over” if given the chance.

  5. Mystery Guest says:

    I have been researching herbs.
    I am now taking some and have ordered seeds for the antibiotic ones. I have learned they take just a bit longer to get the message to your body but they do a most remarkable job. Echinacea.
    Also with all the depressing news nowadays, and family crude flying around my head I became rather down in my attitude and started taking herbs for it. Even though they do not work as what my mother called her “happy pill” they do work. St. Johns Wort.
    I also invested money in some herb books.
    All in all I think that herbs and spices are a called for investment.
    Thank you for your article. Bolsters ones attitude toward them.

  6. Thank you for this wonderful post!
    I am glad your son is doing well. He is fortunate to have amazing parents who would do whatever it takes to ensure their boy has the best they can give him.
    We all must learn to accountable for our own health.

    I have been studying herbal medicine my whole life (mother is also an herbalist).
    I have taught myself to suture and staple from You Tube videos, our vet and a medic friend say I do great work! Though I hope I never need to practice it on human flesh, especially without anesthetic.
    I have hundreds of books on medical and nutrition, and have read all of them, some more than once.
    Studying native plants and their medicinal uses interests me to no end.
    I have recently enrolled in school to become a Paramedic even though I do not want to do this for a career, but the knowledge is what I crave. I am a Farmer at heart.
    My biggest concern is to make the medical items we need sustainable in a long term situtation. It is wonderful to buy bulk herbs and oils at a store or online but how much oregeno does it take to make 1 oz for oil? How many acres of 4yr old Echinacea root does it take provide us with immune building tincture for ourselves and barter?
    Making vinager, fermented foods and medicinal potions are simple and healthy.
    Remember not to be the only one in the family with the medical knowledge. Pick someone to know everything you know.
    Thanks again!

    • Thank you for the encouragement. Your thirst for learning is great and that constant learning/using the knowledge is wonderful and I find that there is always so much more to learn. I hadn’t thought of learning to suture from You Tube videos – great idea….now to find the time to do it. :)

      Your point about the long term issues of availability of herbs/etc is well taken and that is one reason that I have a multitude of herb and nutrition books – even if I don’t use some of the information now, it may become beneficial if favorite herbs become unavailable and I can still learn more at that point if I have the information on hand. That is also a reason that I am extremely interested in native plants and their uses – we can learn to forage more if necessary and having books to tell us what is safe or how to use things will save us from having only “trial and error” learning.

      • FP,
        I took a Native Plant Master Class through my County Extension Office, now I am one of the instructors. It has been one of the most amazing journeys. We have many microclimates in our area. Desert, high mountians, high plains. So much to learn. So much to eat!
        If you can not find a class, don’t give up,ask around for someone with the knowledge. These folks know so much more than what we can find in books.

    • Continuous learning keeps the brain in good shape – exercise for the brain.

      I like that you encourage apprenticeship too. Too much knowledge has been lost by not teaching someone what we know.

    • Mystery Guest says:

      MamaJ
      From what I understand tinctures and dried herbs last almost forever.
      And I found out that most vodka that you buy in stores is okay for making tinctures from dried herbs but a higher alcohol content is best for fresh herbs as the plants already have water in them.
      I am going to look for books like mentioned above that goes by condition as the two books I have although very good, you have to go to the herb and then figure out what in the list it is good for.
      Its great that you have been at this for years, wish I had that under my belt.

      • Mystery Guest,
        TInctures will last a very long time. I have some from 2006. I use mostly vodka and some grain alcohol. I also use mostly dried plant matter, because the properties are concentrated. Also, anything with moisture could cause anything with an oil carrier to go rancid. Honey blends may start to ferment.
        Dried herbs stored in a dark, oxygen free environment will last for a few (3) years, However I feel (I do not have proof) that start to break down after that. I can tell by smell and color. I keep my herb room dark and cool. Like… “wear a sweater cool”.
        I do have many many lbs of exotic spices like cinnamon and cloves but after an event those would eventually run out and the clove oil would be sorely missed! Also worth it’s weight on gold.
        Keep learning and enjoy the journey!

  7. 1. Get yourself in the best condition possible.

    2. Take care of issues when they are small, vs waiting and ending up needing expensive/extensive health care issues.

  8. Mother Earth says:

    I totally agree with learning about herbs. I’ve spent the last year learning and continue to experiment. Lemon balm makes a good tea base, elderberry syrup worked for me. I have two aloe plants as aloe is great for many uses. I also made a pine-needle salve that I love and really works. I have a Rosemary Gladstar’s book I really like plus a couple more in my “library”. I believe herbs are a great asset to have.

    • I love the idea of the pine needle salve and will be making some of my own. :)

    • Mother Earth,

      Could you please share your recipe for pine needle salve? I would love to try that. We surely have enough pine trees in Florida.

      • Mother Earth says:

        Bam Bam, I cut some pine needles off one of my trees and dried them out in the oven, you’ll need About 3 cups to fill the jar 2/3. rough chop them and put them in a quart canning jar and fill it with 3 cups of olive oil (you can use grapeseed or almond oil, etc). Then I let it steep for 3 weeks, strained it, put it a large glass measuring cup and put the cup in a pot of simmering water. Then I added 4 ounces of beeswax. When the wax is melted, pour into containers and let it harden. I filled 3 small containers I got from michaels and stored the extra in a pint jar. I have used the salve on insect bites, boo-boo’s, rashes and even chapped lips at night when I go to bed. (Doesn’t taste good!) It has worked very well for me and two of my daughters use it with their family.

  9. Tactical G-Ma says:

    Frugal,
    Good artical. I am happy your son has made such great progress

    Being a child of true Appalachian dirt farmers, physicians were a last resort. I always felt that MDs were next to God. Then I had some back issues and was sent to a specialist who told me his specialty was surgery, so if I didn’t want surgery then he couldn’t help me. I finally realized that I am driving this body and it is my job to know it inside and out. Medicine is miraculous but it is up to each of us to do the routine maintenance and you are right when you say much can be done without seeing a doctor.

    I was born with asthma and am allergic to just about everything airborne. I was on penicillin for the 1st 6 yrs of my life. By age 16 I developed a serious allergy to penicillin. Needless to say, frequently I doctor myself cause there really are few choices left. If I were to become allergic to them, in a crisis it would be hasta la vista, baby!

    I do see my GP regularly, but I am calling the shots, he’s just the mechanic.

    • Sorry that you suffer w/ your health -one of my sons and I both had asthma which required oral meds, inhalers for both of us and breathing treatments for him. After much vitamin therapy, we have both been off all meds for years – not saying that is always possible, but I know what you mean by doctoring yourself. The doctors had no plans to get us off of meds and were stymied when I kept asking how to get OVER the asthma – their advice was just to take the meds….trouble was that they didn’t always help and more were needed to work as our bodies got used to them. I love that we are both so much healthier now. I hope you get feeling better. God bless you.

      • Tactical G-Ma says:

        Frugal
        I have tried all kinds of meds but do keep albuterol inhaler and epi-pen handy because mine is brought on by allergens. Bushhogging and mowing the pastures require a mask. Having lived with it my whole life just makes it part of me.

  10. Petticoat Prepper says:

    Yes, very good article! I’ll add that I’d love a list of your favorite books too. I have a few but not nearly enough.

    My herb garden is mostly for cooking. However, I do have Joe Pye Weed. It’s very pretty and I dry the leaves add eucalyptus and peppermint oils and do the boiling water and towel over the head thing for nasal problems. This has helped my family with flu and head colds.

    • Sounds great -I haven’t used Joe Pye Weed yet(I will have to try it), but love using the others and we use those also in boiling water, or in the bathtub in the form of essential oils (smells so good), or mixed w/ other herbs, in a salve as a chest rub.

    • Cooking herbs are useful for health issues as well. I used cayenne powder and cold cream to make liniment after a back surgery.

      Rosemary tea is good for curing colds, headaches and nervous disorders. Rosemary tea also relaxes muscle cramps and calms nerves.

      Oregano is known to healers as an antispasmodic, calmative, carminative, diaphoretic, expectorant, stomachic and tonic. Oregano is beneficial for upset stomach and indigestion, headache, colic and nervous conditions. Additionally, oregano has been said to be helpful for respirator ailments. This herb still makes a soothing poultice for painful swellings and sore muscles.

      Basil has sedative and calming qualities. Basil is also an antiseptic and antibacterial herb. Its healing properties can be used as a digestive aid to relieve nausea and an upset stomach. Basil is antispasmodic, so aids in the healing and relief of headaches and migraines, vertigo and even colic.

      Next time you are suffering from a cough or cold, try drinking a cup of thyme tea. It helps to relieve coughs, clear congested airways, dilates the bronchial tubes making breathing easier which may be associated with coughs, colds, influenza and bronchitis.

      Thyme tea can help relieve bloating, gas and abdominal cramping. The volatile oils in thyme tea have a calming effect on the digestive tract reducing excessive gas. It also contains properties which act as an antispasmodic, relieving cramps.

      When the kids were sick I’d make a tea with rosemary, oregano, basil and thyme, sweetened with honey. Of course the kids hated it but it did help them get better faster. They still fear it’s taste to this day. Like I do my mother’s onion cough syrup….lol.

  11. You can get herbs and spices in bulk (cheap) at ethnic groceries.

  12. Here’s a few of my books on herbal medicine that I’ve used for years.
    The Green Pharmacy by James A. Duke
    The Good Herb by Judith Benn Hurley
    Desk Reference to Natures Medicine by Steven Foster and Rebecca L Johnson

    And The Boss gave me Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs for Christmas. It’s a beginners guide but it had some recipes that I wanted. She got it on Amazon.

    • Tommy2rs – thank you for the list. I looked up the books and have a question about The Good Herb. I noticed that there is a “recipe” version of the book. Do you know which version you have or if there is really a difference?

  13. Wow, your son is very lucky to have you and your tenacity to help him get well.

    I truly belive that our problems with the healthcare system would go away over night if all the people that have the ability and capacity to get into healthy shape would do so it would take the huge burden off the system. My BIL is one prime example, he is 350lbs and diabetic and sits in his chair as much as he can, parks as close to the door anyplace he goes and claims he can’t exercise because of his weight. Has been in the hospital three times in the last year twice for diabetic wound care and once for a mild stroke that did not scare him in the least. If he would just START and walk 10 min and then 12 and then 15 and stop eating all the junk he eats he would lose weight and get in better shape. His insurance won’t approve weight lose surgery since he has not tried to lose weight the “old fashioned way” and has in all reality given up.

    I am not alone in this also, I need to lose about 25 lbs and would probably get of BP meds if i did that, that is one of my goals. We all need to be in the best shape we CAN be (and that will be different for all of us) for when SHTF and we are not longer able to depend on the medical community.

    • George – I hope this link works – http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_journal_individual.asp?blog_id=5183728

      This woman was approved for weight loss surgery but chose a different path. She started with something that looks like a bicycle you turn with your hands. Small changes have added up to major changes over time. The next time your BIL says he can’t exercise because of his weight, send him a link to this woman’s information.

      Also, we have a friend that died from complications of gastric bypass surgery. If you look at the odds of dying from that surgery and really pay attention, you wouldn’t do it. You have a better chance of dying than surviving.

      Getting fit works differently for everyone but you have to start somewhere. SparkPeople is FREE and has LOTS of excellent articles and information to read whether you join or not.

  14. Frugal, GREAT post! I have believed for a very long time that we need to be more concerned about natural healing remedies, natural foods, and other sustainable practices that will not only keep us alive after a SHTF situation, but keep us healthy, happy (to the greatest degree the situation allows), and strong.

    I recently (within the last few days), was diagnosed with shingles. SHINGLES???? I’m only 51, but the doc said they were seeing it more and more in younger and middle-aged people. He gave me several prescriptions, but I read about them and was not comfortable with the side effects. So I did some online research, and found a number of natural remedies that kept coming up over and over again. I started using these last night, and today, I feel 100 times better than I did yesterday…without any of the side effects of traditional medicine. I truly believe that God has put on our planet anything we need to address the health issues we have, so I’m really focused on better understanding these.

    Would LOVE a thread (maybe this is it?) or even an entire category devoted to common medical problems and what natural remedies have (or haven’t) worked.

    Terrific subject, thanks so much for posting about it! And huge grins and celebration for your son’s recovery and progress! You are an AWESOME parent! :)

    • Glad that your naturals are working on shingles – that is a long and painful ailment from what I have seen a few people go through. They found good help w/ the supplement L-lysine, but it took quite a while to clear up completely – what did you try? Sounds like it is helping quickly which is wonderful!

      A thread of common medical problems sounds great – one good one online is earth clinic. Hope you get well soon. :)

      • Earth Clinic is where I went last night – great site! Read for hours and hours – was so fascinating and helpful! I took 2 L-lysines last night and this morning, and will continue that until after this clears up. I also made a paste out of baking soda, apple cider vinegar, fresh aloe gel, eucalyptus oil and tea tree oil, soaked a cotton ball, and kept it on all night, then swabbed the area all day today (it’s on my back so I feel like I’m doing yoga trying to reach it :). Upped my intake of B-complex, too.

        From everything I read on Earth Clinic, my case appears to be much more mild than usual, for which I’m very grateful. Just hope the home remedies continue to work. :)

        • Glad you found the info on the site helpful. I wrote down your mixture on a 3″x 5″ card (one of my info systems. :) and will keep it on hand to use for other things also – we use all of those ingredients and have mixed some of them, but never all of them together. Good idea………….hope you get well soon. :)

          • Frugal, thanks so much – I am just astonished at how well I feel! I’ve been putting the “patch” on night and day, and today, I had NO pain whatsoever! A little irritation (where my jeans waistband rubbed against the shingles area), but no pain at all…and the shingles area is almost all cleared up. In fact, I haven’t taken anything stronger than an aspirin since I started using these remedies. I’m SO impressed, and I, too, have written down this “recipe” in case this ever happens again. :)

            • Desert Girl says:

              Nanet, Shingles is caused by a virus that is a member of the Herpes family (nothing to do with STD’s, it’s just that the STD we call “herpes” happens to be in the same family – meaning that the mechanics of these viruses are similar even though they cause different diseases – the viruses that cause chicken pox, mono, and cold sores are also in the Herpes family). What this means for you is that the virus will always be in your system, so having a good anti-herpes virus arsenal is paramount.

              I had mono about 10 years ago, so I’m in the same boat, and when doctors couldn’t do anything for me I found some great anti-viral products that work wonderfully. The first was Red Marine Algae (excellent for Herpes viruses specifically). I went from being so sick for over six months that I was barely able to function normally, to being completely normal after taking this for only 4 days! I’ve also recommended it to people with Shingles and it worked just as well for them. Here’s the link to product’s home page, but you can find it cheaper if you Google it. Just be sure to get this brand. I’ve tried others and they don’t work as well. http://pureplanet.com/ProductPage.aspx?ItemID=301

              Another great product that I use now to fight off flare ups when I feel them coming on is Lomatium Osha. I like tinctures, so this one works better for me (and it’s cheaper). It does taste pretty bad though, but I’ve gotten used to it over the years so now I just squirt it in my mouth and chase it with water. http://www.luckyvitamin.com/p-193683-eclectic-institute-lomatium-osha-compound-herbal-extract-1-oz

              You can also buy empty gelatin capsules and squirt it in those so you won’t taste anything. http://www.luckyvitamin.com/p-848-now-foods-gelatin-caps-single-0

              As someone who’s used and worked in supplements for many years, I highly recommend these products and brands specifically. Hope this helps!

    • Nanet, I’m so sorry to hear of your diagnosis–but glad you have improved. Someone in our family (by marriage) had shingles in their early 40s; it sounded just awful.

      Love the idea of sharing experiences on common health issues. Heck, a piece on, say, your bout with shingles would be just as interesting as the ‘lessons learned from [weather event/home equipment failure/natural disaster]‘ articles everyone likes so much.

      And I agree, isn’t God’s creation amazing? Seeing His provision for us, I feel more blessed every day.

    • My youngest daughter had shingles at 15. She had just had surgery on her shoulder and the shingles popped up under her sling. Once she was able to get rid of the sling, she felt much better.

  15. Mystery Guest says:

    The two books I would recommend are:
    Herbal Antibiotics by Stephen Harrod Buhner
    It is very very good at discribing the herbs for use as antibiotics. Most of them are readily available. At the start of his book he did mention some that are not so easy to get. But all in all it is a good book to have on hand, kind of a must have.
    As I was not used to the herbalist lingo I did have to figure out what this or that term meant. But all in all after a bit I knew what he was talking about.
    I figure it is more than well worth the money even if you pay retail price of $24.95.
    Medicinal Plants of the American Southwest by Charles W. Kane
    Allthough I do not live in the desert felt this would be a good book to have and it does go through some plants and herbs that are not desert pacific.
    I like that he went through the recipes and mixtures at the beginning of the book and explained a lot of things that apply to all herbal recipes.
    The only thing is I wish he had put the pictures with the discription of the herbs (but what the heck the other book has no pictures) but it does have a center section of pictures of the plants.
    I have enjoyed this book very much also.
    And feel that it also is worth the retail price of $19.95
    I also purchased:
    The complete book of herbs by Lesley Brimness
    I like this book but it is not for herbal medicine wants. It is for the gardener and cook with spatterings of information on recipes for oils etc. Now the pictures are great, but in this case they were not worth a thousand words.
    I will confess some of the gardens and ideas are delightful to look at.
    The retail price is $21.95 but I would look for it in the used section and I am thankful that is where I found mine.

    • I own and love Stephen Harrod Buhner’s book and I use his guide for tincture-making. I also recently purchased “Holistic Herbal” by David Hoffmann after borrowing it twice from the library. This book is wonderful in that it pictures each herb and describes it’s uses and then offers combinations with other herbs for treatment. The book is out of print, but I was able to order a new copy thru Amazon using one of their book dealers.
      Tinctured herbs have a long shelf life, so I rather tincture the herb than store the herb. I also choose to tincture each herb separately and then I have the option of combining herbal tinctures later. I have also created a journal page for each herb that I am using and will make notes for which combinations I try and results.
      Some of the herbs that interest me are: Burdock Root, Dandelion Root, Yellow Dock Root, Hawthorne Berry, Valerian, and Elderberry to name a few.
      Mountain Rose sells the amber bottles in 16 oz, 8 oz, and the 4 oz dropper size. The larger bottles have a vapor-lock cap and are perfect for storing finished tinctures. Be sure to label each bottle and date them.
      I hope this helps the beginners,
      Mary

  16. rev. dave says:

    Honestly, anyone who depends entirely on doctors for their medical care is ignorant. Ignorant of how most drugs only control symptoms but don’t cure squat; ignorant of how many people are killed or damaged by ‘doctor care’ every year (totals about a million); and usually ignorant of any alternatives to the allopathic medical system.

    These people regularly die from things that shouldn’t have killed them, die earlier than they should have, and live lives that are limited by health conditions that they shouldn’t have in the first place and which should have been and could have been cured.

  17. Here is a list of some of the books that I find helpful – I use many books – some are good for plant identification, some for uses, some for recipes, etc…..

    Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Balch and Balch
    How to Get Well by Paavo Airola (old book-may be out of print)
    The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs-Their Medicinal & Culinary Uses
    The Ultimate Herb Book by Anthony Atha
    Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine by Murray and Pizzorno
    Books by Adelle Davis
    Nature’s Pharmacy-Your Guide to Healing Foods, Herbs, Supplements, & ..
    Reader’s Digest Foods That Harm/Foods That Heal
    Edible Wild Plants – Peterson Field Guide
    Natural Healing With Herbs by Humbart Santillo
    Herbal Medicine-The Natural Way to Get Well and Stay Well
    The People’s Pharmacy Guide to Home & Herbal Remedies
    Culpeppers Color Herbal
    Earth Mother Herbal
    Aromatherapy A-Z
    Prevention’s New Foods For Healing
    The Vinegar Book
    The Healing Powers of Vinegar
    Herbally Yours by Penny C. Royal
    Herbs – Gude to Plants – The LIttle Guides – by Fog City Press
    Celestial Seasonings Herbs For Health and Happiness by Mo Siegel & ….
    55 Most Common Medicinal Herbs by Heather Boon
    National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs
    The Art of Herbs DVD

    There are SO many good books and these are only a few. You can check your local library or bookstore…….cross-referencing is good. Different books have strengths and weaknesses, but there is a lot of good information out there. I have found some old herbal books to be treasures also, so don’t be afraid to check thrift stores too.

  18. Frugal Prepper,

    This is an excellent post. Thank you for writing it. I have just started researching alternative/holistic medicine. I have downloaded a bunch of books and I am eager to dive in.

  19. FP, this article warms my heart. Each time that lawmower starts, I hope you hear ‘well done, good and faithful mother’.

    That your son was sent home so soon after surgery was shocking. Although, with the surge in resistant staph infections at hospitals, I wonder if, for some, that may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

    Thanks for the encouragement to learn things that prior generations considered common knowledge. The more we can foster and preserve our own health, the better off everyone is.

  20. Frugal Prepper, thank you so much for this post. And thank you for the list of books.

    So much to learn, so little time.

  21. MountainSurvivor says:

    Frugal Prepper,
    Good ideas and you talked about them at the right time in our nation’s history. You’ve inspired me to pull out the materia medica with repertory and freshen up. Thanks.

  22. For years I solved my ear problems by running my fingers from slightly behind my ear, down the side of my neck, across the collarbone in an outward motion. My nurse friend was here one day when I did that. I told her why I was doing it. She said, “Oh, yes, that is milking the glands.” I think that is how she put it. At any rate she said what I was doing was a standard thing. So, by accident I discovered something others in the medical community never told me, something I could do to help myself or my children. Of course, those children have children of their own now and think I am an old fuddy duddy. LOL

    • Glad you found how to do that……..I use it often w/ my kids and remind them to do it and they don’t like doing it, but agree it helps — So much of the common sense stuff that earlier generations just automatically did (as other readers above commented) has faded away, but it is still so useful and helpful and well worth knowing – especially as more and more people decide not to just go to the doctors for everything………….so many times trips to the dr can be avoided quite easily………….I am very thankful they are there if we really DO need them, though. By the way, I hear that as our kids get older, they will think WE get smarter and some day we will hear them telling their kids to do the same things we told them! :)

      • We have seen it some with our oldest, but we’re apparently still pretty stupid. :-) Ours are between 17 and 23. We have a few more years of being stupid to go.

  23. One of the best herbal remedies that I use is Ultra Slim herbal tea. If you have trouble with regularity, drink a cup of this tea in the evening. The next morning you will no longer have trouble with regularity. Here’s the link.

    http://www.amazon.com/Triple-Leaf-Tea-1-4-Ounce-20-Count/dp/B000LKZL6C/ref=sr_1_1?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1357228420&sr=1-1&keywords=triple+leaf+ultra+slim+tea

  24. Frugal Prepper, would you (or anyone else) mind sharing your toothpaste recipe?

    • I have used other recipes and they were ok. I liked using white oak bark powder (great for gums), but it is brown and stains toothbrush although it works well. I have also used various combinations with the following: baking soda, peroxide, white oak bark powder, coconut oil, wintergreen and etc. Some I created, some I found from someone else and they worked and I liked them, but for various reasons (one of them became thick after a few days and wouldn’t squeeze well and I haven’t made another batch to experiment yet) , I am really excited to try this one(after I buy bentonite clay! :)

      Bentonite Clay Toothpaste Recipe
      3 cups water
      1 Tbsp. stevia herb
      1 1/2 cups cinnamon sticks
      4 Tbsp whole cloves
      4 Tbsp baking soda
      1 T Celtic Sea Salt
      1 1/2 cups bentonite clay powder (put into a glass bowl)
      1. Mix the first 4 ingredients in medium saucepan. Boil for 30 min. While boiling, mix baking soda and Celtic salt in separate bowl and set aside.
      2. Place 1 cup of bentonite clay into a glass bowl. (important to use glass bowls and wooden spoon for this recipe).
      3. Remove from heat and strain. Catch the liquid in a glass bowl. Slowly add baking soda and salt (it will foam and bubble). While still frothing, stir into the glass bowl of bentonite clay. Whisk briskly. The foam will start to settle down and a smooth paste will start to form. Continue adding clay till desired consistency is reached. Store in glass jars and avoid contact with absorbable metals.

      A comment was given to use a separate smaller jar for each person to use or put a popsicle stick in a jar to scoop it out to put on the toothbrush. This recipe came from bulkherbstore.com and they have a how to video on the site to watch for free if you so desire.
      Now, I need to order the bentonite clay and make a batch. :)

  25. Prepping Wife. says:

    Frugal Prepper –

    This is my favorite article in quite some time. MD – this one has my vote!

    I have been starting to get into herbs more. We take echinacia when we start getting sick and I have used green tea with honey for sore throats and onion w/ honey for coughs. I have been wanting to get into herbs as much as you are.

    You mention that your son had a heart condition. My daughter was born with no functioning left side of her heart (3 open heart surgeries) and takes asprin on a daily basis – I have been reading more and more about the effects long term asprin can have which is something that I want to put a stop to further down the road once we have a better handle on herbs – her doctor doesnt seem very open to herbs and unfortunatley is the only pediatric cardiologist in our city and has been in care of our daughter for the past 10 years (since she was born) so I am a little afraid to ask her.

    I have also read that some herbs can cause damage or interact with other meds that people take. She also takes lisinopril (blood pressure). Do you have any information on herbs conflicting with other meds or herbs causing problems?

    I am going to get your books for sure! Thank you so much for a great article!!!!

    -Jennifer

    • I’m sorry that your daughter has this problem and I applaud you for learning what you can. It is hard to find a way to mix the 2 worlds, which is a shame. Medical doctors tend to have an “attitude” toward alternative medicine and alternative medicine people cannot tell you to go off of a medicine prescribed by a doctor. A dilemma, to be sure. I have found that working to increase general health and well being helps a lot. It is important to be careful w/ herbs, although I have found that the “official line” of doctors and pharmacists is to scare us from using ANY of them.

      I tend to start with the safer ones that don’t have cautions on them and use them lightly and gradually adding more as tolerated. We use herbs in our salads – a big variety of things in a salad increases the vitamin content and my kids and husband have gotten more used to seeing dandelion greens, beet greens, fresh lavender, fresh basil, plantain, nastursium flowers, and more in our salads! :) You will want to watch for warnings on those that will affect the heart adversely and maybe avoid those totally.

      Research is a great tool and it can include researching your daughter’s specific heart condition, the way the heart is supposed to work and where the limitations are/what effect they have on the heart and the rest of the body’s health. For example, if the heart problem complicates breathing issues, I would research ways to strengthen the lungs and breathing. As the body gets stronger, sometimes it can start to heal in a better way. I find it a good idea to be very informed on my child’s condition and well able to talk intelligently w/the doctors. Not easy, but worth it, since we love our children the most and want the best for them. I kept records at home to be able to hand carry them to other doctors and help the different kinds of care work together. I have also found that it is sometimes possible to gain the respect of the doctors as they realize that I appreciate their care of my son, but am also very well informed myself and many times they become more helpful, but not always.

      I am sorry that I can’t be really specific – for one thing, I am not a doctor and don’t know about her specific problem and know about my son’s because of research and experience, so am trying to tell things I do or would possibly do. There are so many variables involved. There are no easy answers and I wish I could give you one. May God guide you in your search for good health for your daughter(and the rest of you as the needs of one person w/ health problems in the family can affect the rest of you and you need to watch your health/energy too.)

      We did just find out that our son’s condition is expected to lead to the need for another open heart surgery later in life. We were only told that because of my questioning because of my own research- they had never told us that, so I am thankful that I figured out to ask about it. There was also much surprise/shock on the part of the doctors and nurses that my son is not on ANY meds for his heart, so I have done research to find out what kind of meds would be used for this, then checked to see what those meds would address. Then I checked for natural alternatives for the condition and found that I had already been using some of them for him, for other reasons. :) I feel like God worked all of that out. I am continuing my research, hoping to strengthen his heart and keep that surgery either way far away or not necessary at all. His reports were very good, which was encouraging and again, I see the attention to extra good general health as a very good thing. If you have other questions, you could send an email to M.D. and ask him to send that on to me………I think he could do that and we could email about it. God bless you. :)

    • Prepping Wife,
      I know you didn’t asked me but I wanted to answer also. I am a certified Master Herbalist and can definitely say that I would not change your daughters meds or add herbs unless you can get a certified Naturopath and her Doctor to work together. Aspirin would not be the issue but the blood pressure. Some herbs DO and WILL cause blood pressure distress.
      It seems that aspirin and Lisinopril are mild forms of meds considering her medical history. Thank goodness she has done so well.
      I do not normally advertize my qualifications online because I can not and will not give advise on dosages and especially reccommend any herb as a replacement medication for your precious daughter.
      I would suggest seeing someone locally, that could look at her medical history, they may possibly recommend a willow bark and a hibiscus flower tea as subsitute in a crisis situation. Especially if you were to go the herbal route.
      I would NOT take anyones advise without consulting her Doctor first. The Doctor would most certainly need to see what the clinical studies and recommendations are for those herbs. In my experience her Cardiologist will not consider using herbs for her condition.
      I would still see the Naturopath though and start from there.

    • Prepping Wife,

      This is my favorite article in a while too.

    • I agree that you would not want to take advice w/o working w/ the dr and as you become more familiar w/ your child’s specific condition, you will probably start a list of herbs to totally avoid, even in normal cooking/eating. With that said, though, there are many many ways to influence the health w/o getting into areas that a doctor would even object to. For example, sugar is very overused in our diet and yet it can place a great strain on the body, so limiting it can help reduce that strain and can improve the overall good health. Many people see what we eat and our health or medical conditions as totally separate from one another. The body works together so amazingly, though, that we can influence health for good or bad, many times, by what we eat or use on our body.

      Rather than just “herbs”, I like to look at nutrition, which CAN include herbs. The average American diet is high in sugar and hydrogenated oils and starches and even chemicals like pesticides and additives. Those things are not easy on the body and can lead to toxins building up even in a healthy person, but also in those with compromised health. In a quest to improve overall general health, we may find that we want to limit things or add certain foods. By the way, some herbs are commonly used as foods- examples include cinnamon, garlic, basil, peppermint, ginger, etc. Even those things we don’t even think of as herbs and just use for flavor, can have an impact on our health, even in the small ways we use them for flavor, so we can choose to use or not use them depending on health needs. We could also unknowingly complicate things by not paying attention to what we eat.

      Also, knowing your child’s specific condition well, can lead to possibilities to help just by things added/subtracted/limited from the diet. For example, years ago, my son’s airway problem led to many surgeries every year (up to 7 a year) to open his airway back up. I kept asking the surgeon questions and found that my son’s body created lots of scar tissue very easily, which closed his airway down. In wanting to help that, and after more research, I found that certain foods like citrus foods, tomatoes, and chocolate contribute to the production of scar tissue, so by limiting those foods – especially around surgery times, it aided in his health and slowed down the airway closings and the number of surgeries needed.

      Another thing that can be extremely helpful are probiotics, especially if antibiotics are used, but they are helpful regardless. Probiotic vitamins can be added, but that could be something a doctor would object to (considering it an “herb” or something.) However, they they may not have any objection to the eating of yogurt, sauerkraut or other foods that contain probiotics. We have found that many doctors do not like the subject of supplements at all (and that can mean ANYthing that is in a pill type form, especially), but many do not put any restrictions on diet.

      My experience has been that most doctors will totally reject the idea of any herbs and even naturopathic doctors and will not even consider their use and that is one reason that I advocate working on improving overall health through diet. If you can afford to go to a naturopathic/nutrition doctor, they can be very helpful and you would need to state upfront the medical condition and take the medicines to them at the appt so that those are considered in the care. Even though you want to get off of the medicines, that may not happen for a long time or at all, but improving general health can lead to a lower dependence on needing the drugs.

      Sorry for any confusion and hope this helps clarify. God bless. :)

    • Desert Girl says:

      Prepping Wife –
      You may be interested in researching Willow Bark. It is said to work just like asprin but without some of the more troubling side effects. I can not speak to your daughter’s specific condition in regard to using Willow Bark, but it’s a place to start and gives you something to ask questions with.

      Blessings to you!
      Desert Girl

  26. Tactical G-Ma says:

    Talking to an MD about alternative or herbal meds is like talking to an auto mechanic about swimming pools. That’s not his field of expertise and if a Dr. endorses the use of herbs, he then becomes liable. Always tell your MD when you are self-medicating but it is your body, your decision.

  27. Prepping Wife. says:

    WOW! I really appreciate your help with all of this everyone! I am very well educted in her condition and how her heart functions and how a normal heart functions but I had no idea that diet and herbs can effect it so much! Thank you guys for outpour of support – It means a lot!

  28. Dr Mom is making a comeback. With the Internet comes the ability to research virtually any topic quickly. Mom’s and Dad’s are asking questions and doing their homework. This has led to the embarrassment of some “medical professionals” who only had the big pharmaceutical 10 minute rundown on toxic medicines. We have fired those providers. Yes, you can fire a Dr. It’s your money and your health. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind.

    I will apologize now for all my late posts. I’m playing catch up from many calamities and changes. Our son was almost a victim of the flu that came early and lasted for almost two weeks. Thank God he pulled through but we didn’t sleep many nights.

    • Tactical G-Ma says:

      Mexneck,
      Sorry to hear about all your trials and tribulations. Glad your son is improving. This is a nasty flu bug.
      But, have been praying for you cause you dropped off the grid and we have needed your valuable input here.
      Just saying I missed you.

    • Mexneck, So sorry about your troubles and thankful that your son is over the worst. That had to be so scary. I hope that you can get rest now so that you don’t also get sick and that you all enjoy good health. God bless you.