Life changes. When an earthquake or other catastrophe strikes, the grocery stores are out of operation and the water systems shut down. Chaos reigns and food, water and shelter may be first on your mind, but common illnesses are what usually catch people off-guard. Luckily, there are many natural cures you can use when the pharmacies are closed for good. Whether you will be fleeing disaster or you’re stuck in the thick of it, a first-aid kit filled with homeopathic remedies is essential.
Since you may be carrying your belongings on your back, make sure your “remedies are very safe, lightweight and durable,” instructs Tim Dooley, ND, MD, a San Diego-based physician educated in both traditional and homeopathic medicine, and the author of “Homeopathy: Beyond Flat Earth Medicine.”
Dooley recommends familiarizing yourself with plants and herbs ahead of time and realizing that your resources are going to vary significantly by the climate, plant life and water resources in the area. “Simple homeopathy refers to using common remedies with multiple uses that you can carry with you easily,” Dooley says. “The trick is to remember that homeopathic remedies are different. In fact, it is accurate to say that they differ from conventional medications much like a carrot differs from a stick. Conventional medicines are like sticks: they force a change in everyone, every time. Homeopathic remedies are like the carrot: they elicit a response, but it is very different from a forced change. You must have the correct ‘carrot,’ that is, the right incentive to elicit a response.”
“Since you may be carrying your belongings on your back, make sure your ‘remedies are very safe, lightweight and durable.’” —Tim Dooley, ND, MD
FIGHT AN UPSET STOMACH
Minor abdominal illnesses are common in crises brought on by both stress and unsafe food and water. Thankfully, many antidotes for stomach ailments can be found in your own backyard. “Assuming this is the run-of-the-mill stomachache that doesn’t agree, ginger (such as is used in cooking) often helps,” Dooley advises. He also asserts that peppermint or other mint is helpful to ease the pain and can be found all over. A sip or two of chamomile tea, as often referenced in old tales, will also do the trick and calms nerves simply and comfortably. “Dandelion root tea can help a stomachache, and it seems you can find it anywhere,” Dooley adds.
THE COMMON HEADACHE
Possibly the toughest infirmity to escape and usually the one that plagues us the most—the headache—is commonplace in emergency situations. There are several natural medicines that can aid in decreasing this frustrating affliction. First, you should find out why the person has the headache, and the reasons can range from tension, sinus problems or a migraine, Dooley says. Willow bark, because it has natural aspirin in it, can help, he says, while other commonly found herbs that are useful include vervain, feverfew, ginger, peppermint and chamomile. Sometimes headaches can also be brought on by dehydration, lack of food and sleep, too much sun, colds and the flu, and many other things that can be avoided by taking care of them in a disaster and being prepared in advance.
• Willow bark
THE COMMON COLD
Everyone hates the discomfort of the common cold, but do you know how you would you deal with this illness following a disaster, when every pharmacy and grocery store is shut down? Fortunately, there are many plants and herbs that can lessen the effects of this everyday infirmity. Many people today already use alternative medicines to stave off the cold in the winter, Dooley notes. Echinacea, elderberry, garlic and goldenseal are commonly found and utilized regularly, and all four of these remedies have been used for centuries and have multi-purpose applications for varying degrees of flu and cold-like symptoms. Echinacea, if taken daily, will ward off a cold or lessen its impact, while elderberry will thin out mucus. Meanwhile, goldenseal and garlic have too many medicinal properties to list, and are essential for long-term survival after a disaster.
More and more people are embracing natural cures for common illnesses. With the changing world and the seemingly increased risk for disasters, having a core knowledge of what is available when illness strikes is essential to your survival.
MAKE YOUR OWN CURATIVE HERBAL TEA
If you’re interested in making your own soothing tea from dandelion, ginger or peppermint, you don’t have to stroll the aisles of a grocery store to do so. Follow these steps to make your own tea:
- Using chamomile as an example, you can grow or find the herb and then harvest the flower at its peak;
- Dry the flowers completely, either by hanging them upside-down or spreading them on a clean and dry piece of paper;
- Crumble the dried flower into a small, seed-like consistency, and discard the stems and leaves;
- Place the dried tea (the crumbled flowers) in cheesecloth or a straining spoon, and hold them in your hot water to steep for about two minutes until your tea is the strength you desire.
Kristin Webb-Hollering is a North Carolina-based freelance writer and part-time literacy consultant who spent a few years teaching before taking up freelance writing. Her interests are reading, cooking and politics.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in a 2012 print issue of American Survival Guide.