Preppers consider growing their own groceries and stockpiling long-term storage food one of the cornerstones of a living a self-reliant lifestyle. And… they are right.
But these survival tactics alone will not be enough to sustain the family during a long-term survival situation. Growing and preserving edible and medicinal herbs is just as vital to any well-rounded survival plan.
Herbs generally take little space to grow, and can be cultivated indoor year-round. Once the healing and edible herbs are harvested, they can be dehydrated to preserve them for use in the months or years to come.
If you powder the herbs or purchase a manual gel cap pill making machine, you can conserve and even pre-mix natural home remedies to use both now and when you can’t call a doctor for help.
In this article we’ll be focusing on the most potent and easy to grow survival herbs for your stockpile. We made a separate list of anti-viral herbs here.
The petals of a calendula plant are edible, and the entire flower is often used in natural home remedies. It is a common base ingredient in a plethora of commercially manufactured creams, ointments, and salves – especially in diaper rash creams.
The vibrant flower petals on a calendula plant readily attract honey bees to your apothecary patch or garden. This herbal edible and medicinal plant boasts antibacterial, anti inflammatory properties.
Even though ashwagandha is often heralded for its ability to increase libido and increase fertility, it has many other benefits as well. Consumption of this herb may also provide a substantial energy boost, decrease both anxiety and stress, as well as boost memory.
During a long-term survival situation, increasing your libido likely will not be a priority, but enhancing and maintaining an optimal energy level surely will be.
Both the root and the berries from this anti-inflammatory herb is used to make natural medicine. Conditions ashwagandha is routinely used to treat include: hemiplegia (one-sided paralysis, back pain, OCD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, balance problems, fibromyalgia, leukoderma, high blood pressure, insomnia, anxiety, menstrual issues, hiccups, liver disease, and many more.
Read more about this plant here.
Cayenne can add robust flavor to drag survival meals and help heal the body of various ailments. If you run out of the quikclot style bandages you have stockpiled, having ample cayenne pepper on hand might just save your life. Pouring cayenne onto a wound, even a severe one, may help stem blood flow dramatically.
Bleeding should stop or vastly reduce less than 30 seconds after pouring about 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper onto the wound. Cayenne pepper is often praised for its antiseptic properties, as well.
Cayenne is often a base ingredient in natural home remedies designed to treat fever, rheumatism, kidney issues, arthritis, heart problems, spleen issues, stomach ailments, and headache.
4. Black Cohosh
Black Cohosh boasts immune system boosting and anti-inflammatory properties. a member of the buttercup family, is a plant native to North America.
Both Native Americans and Chinese herbalists used this herb to treat insect bites and as a repellent, for menopause symptoms like hot flashes, and to reduce swelling after sustaining an injury.
5. Aloe Vera
Many folks keep an aloe vera plant on hand to treat minor burns, but this hardy herb offers far more natural medicinal properties.
Aloe vera has been used to treat stomach aches, general wound healing, and as a laxative. It is also a superb active natural healing ingredient to use in oral care home remedies. Aloe vera boasts antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral, and antifungal properties.
Cinnamon is a great immune system booster in both humans and animals. Keeping your livestock alive and healthy during a long-term is essential to maintaining a sustainable food supply.
This delicious herb is heralded for its anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. Like aloe vera, cinnamon is also a robust and commonly used ingredients in natural oral care remedies. Cinnamon can also help lower blood sugar levels thanks to its ability to foster insulin resistance.
This herb’s antiviral properties enable it to be a potent stomach ache natural treatment aid. Basil boasts intense antispasmodic properties as well.
Some of the most common uses for this seasoning and medicinal herb include use in the treatment of intestinal problems like diarrhea, constipation, and gas, loss of appetite, stomach aches, muscle spasms, and to boost the immune system.
To treat a fever or a headache, harvest the leaves and boil them in two quarts of water. Then, mix the water with sugar if you have it, and allow the water to cool. Ingest one sip every two or three hours.
To treat a sore throat, perform the same method except gargle the water in your throat and spit it back out instead of drinking it.
Basil has also been taken as a natural remedy or sprinkled onto food to help alleviate kidney problems, to promote a more natural blood flow after childbirth, facilitate the flow of breast milk, and to topically treat insect bites.
Echinacea should be a part of your natural common cold and flu remedy survival stockpiles. This flowering herb boosts the immune system, and may increase is thought to increase the production of white blood cells.
It boasts both antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. Conditions and ailments echinacea is often used in natural home remedies to treat includes: ulcer, acid indigestion, diphtheria, fatigue, yeast infections, migraines, rattlesnake bites, gum disease, typhoid, tonsillitis, and many more.
According to the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy’s scientists, who reviewed a plethora of echinacea studies, taking the herb can reduce the chances of contracting the common cold by as much as 58%. Consuming the herb after catching a cold can also reduce the number of days afflicted with symptoms.
As many folks already know, cloves are a powerful natural remedy for alleviating toothache pain. This herb also boast antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties that can significantly bolster the immune system.
Cloves can also bolster strong bones and help the body ward off bacteria.
If a member of your family or prepper tribe is stricken with ulcers, blood sugar problems, or liver issues, growing or stockpiling cloves as a part of your survival apothecary plan could be highly beneficial.
This herb is rich in antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-infectious, and antiviral properties. Eucalyptus has been used for thousands of years in natural Chinese, Greek, Indian, and eastern European natural medicines. In fact, hospitals in Europe used eucalyptus to clean urinary catheters into the 19th century.
Eucalyptus is often used as a base ingredient in natural remedies and homemade medications for respiratory illnesses, the common cold, to make inhalants to relieve congestion and to create cough lozenges to relieve sore throats.
Gargling with eucalyptus leaves can help alleviate the scratching and soreness often associated with bronchitis, a sore throat, and sinusitis. The herb is a quality natural expectorant, as well.
This antiseptic herb is good for far more than aromatherapy oils and wax melts. Lavender is often used in natural remedies for minor burns, rashes, and abrasions.
It has also been part of natural medicines designed to treat depression, insect bites, headache pain, digestive issues, toothaches, hair loss prevention, and sprains.
Lavender is also a common ingredient in commercially manufactured beauty and skin health products.
is believed to have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to heal minor burns and bug bites. … In addition to helping with digestive problems, lavender is used to help relieve pain from headaches, sprains, toothaches, and sores. It can also be used to prevent hair loss.
Perhaps the most versatile herbal remedy in this list is lavender. Lavender is great for reducing both stress and physical pain.
As a fragrance, breathing in lavender will calm your senses and reduce any stress or anxiety that you feel. When you drink it as a tea, lavender will reduce the effects of an upset stomach and help banish bad breath.
Chamomile, either the German variety or the type that grows wild, has been used for centuries to relieve anxiety, stress, and insomnia.
Chamomile is typically brewed into a tea to be consumed for its natural healing properties. A tea cooled to at least room temperature can be applied to skin rashes and blisters to help soothe them and promote healing.
This beautiful little flowering herb is also commonly used in natural home remedies to treat colitis, as a blood cleanser, to treat digestives issues, enhance pancreatic health, and to improve liver function.
Garlic is as powerful in the natural healing process as it is, well…. stinky. It is a superb detoxifying agent that also helps to combat infection, enhance the immune system, reduce fat in the blood, and improve blood circulation.
This herb may help prevent and treat a myriad of heart conditions, including hardening of the arteries. Garlic is also taken either alone or as an active ingredient in herbal remedies to treat sinusitis, yeast infections, high cholesterol, and asthma.
The leaves, oil, and flowers from the marjoram herb area all used in natural medicines. Common ailments treated with this herb include the common cold, general runny noses and coughs, and to aid digestive troubles.
This is a wonderfully tasting herb that can enhance a plethora of both hot and cold dishes – as well as salads. Marjoram may also help dilate blood vessels, soothe sore muscles, and regulate blood pressure.
Marjoram boasts antibacterial and anti-infectious properties.
Ginger, is an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant herb. It offers a sweet flavor when candied or used in recipes, making it a wonderful potential moral booster during a long-term disaster.
It has been used for centuries to treat circulatory system issues, nausea, as an indigestion aid, and to combat motion sickness.
To harness its substantial healing properties, you can simply chew on a piece of ginger root or brew it into a tea. Steepling about 30 grams of ginger root into hot water to make a tea is generally the recommended way to consume the herb for medicinal reasons.
This herb does not at all resemble the marshmallows we toast over open flames. Both the roots and leaves of this herb are often used in natural medicines.
The herb can help naturally alleviate fluid retention, fight kidney issues, treat sore throats, and heal bladder infections.
Marshmallow is often ingested to treat sore throats, general indigestion, and to promote the healing of wounds. The herb boasts both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Chewing on the roots or leaves can create a protective lining in the stomach to soothe ulcers, heartburn, and related problems.
Found in Europe and western North America, Arnica is one of the best herbs to use for pain caused by inflammation or after some intense physical movement.
If you’ve done a lot of hiking in a single day before, for instance, you know how sore you can feel the following day. Arnica will efficiently relieve much of this pain and thus increase your chances of walking out of a wilderness survival situation alive.
There are several ways that you can take arnica to heal your pain. Over the counter, Arnica is most often sold as pills or tablets for you to take with water.
In a survival situation, however, you obviously won’t have this option. Instead, the best way to take it will be topically, or by applying the leaves directly to your skin. Harvest them while the flowers are in their prime, and then apply topically to the wound or injury.
Boswellia comes from the frankincense tree. It has been used for centuries to reduce inflammation and pain. Today, boswellia is effective to reduce the pain of arthritis, particularly after long treks or moments of intense physical activity.
To take boswellia, remove the leaves from the stems and stalk, and allow them to dry out in the sun. Then, grind the leaves into a powder and pour the powder into a cup of water.
Stir vigorously and then drink the water continuously in small sips. In twenty to thirty minutes, you should begin to feel pain relief from any inflammation or muscle aches you have. You can also find boswellia in powder form online and in stores.
While a dandelion may not technically count as a ‘herb,’ its medicinal properties are too great to go unnoticed. Also, the fact that dandelions are virtually everywhere is why it deserves a place in this list.
Dandelions will work magnificently to alleviate digestive problems and abdominal pains in the body. Take one tablespoon of the dried root of the dandelion and submerge it in a cup of hot water.
Allow the water to cool before drinking. Repeat this three times a day (morning, midday, and evening) to reduce any digestive pains or problems you have.
20. Devil’s Claw
While the name Devil’s Claw may cause hesitation, the truth is that Devil’s Claw is easily one of the best herbs you can take to reduce heartburn, back pain, and headaches.
The best way is to consume the roots orally; there should be no adverse side effects by doing so.
You can technically just eat the leaves themselves, or if you prefer a more appealing way, dry the leaves and grind them into a powder to mix with water. You can then drink small sips of the water throughout the day.
21. Lemon Balm
One of the more appealing attributes of lemon balm is how you can make your own ‘survival lemonade’ by mixing it with warm water. But when it comes to medicinal properties, the two best uses for lemon balm will be to prevent insomnia and to treat cold sores.
Simply crush the leaves of the lemon balm after allowing them to dry in the sun and then hold them over the sore to begin treating it. When ingested, lemon balm could help you to get a good night’s sleep.
Mint contains strong cooling properties, which makes it a perfect choice for reducing inflammation or sun/heat stroke. Since mint is only effective when it is in its prime, you should only harvest it right before the flowers bloom.
Dry the leaves of the plant and store them in a cool and dry location until ready to use. To use blend the leaves in with other herbs and then place in hot water to make a tea to drink.
Best used when brewed in the form a tea; parsley provides a huge boost to your energy because it improves blood circulation. Parsley may also help to reduce insomnia and fatigue much like lemon balm can.
If you ever find yourself exhausted at a critical time in a survival situation, drinking some parsley tea is one of the best strategies you can implement to give yourself that extra boost of energy you need.
What’s important to note is that it will begin to rot only a few days after you harvest it. Plan on using parsley immediately after harvesting to get the best effects.
After harvesting cut the leaves from the stems. You can then discard the stems and use the leaves and water to make tea.
Most people categorize plantain as a weed. Found in almost every lawn in the United States, plantain is not at all a herb you want to overlook when it comes to herbal remedies.
If you’re ever bitten or stung by a snake, spider, bee, or scorpion, the leaves of plantain could be what saves your life or at least reduces the pain that you feel.
Crush the leaves and mix them with a little water to form a paste. Apply it directly to where you were bitten or stung. You should feel relief within seconds.
As an alternative, you can also turn it into oil. Take some dried leaves and place them in a jar. Add any vegetable oil you have, and allow the combination to sit in the sun for at least two weeks.
The oil should slowly turn into a dark green color. Strain the leaves from the oil, and apply the oil topically to the site of a bite or a wound for healing and pain relief.
Rosemary is an excellent herb for relieving headaches and soothing muscle pain. Its role as a headache reliever, in particular, has been common knowledge since the ancient times. As with many other herbs, rosemary is best when brewed as a tea.
Simply take some harvested leaves and put them in water until the water becomes infused with the taste of the rosemary.
You will not only see your headache gone but you’ll also feel relaxed. Soon enough, you’ll also begin to feel relief from pain in your back or shoulders.
Sage has two major healing benefits. It can help to stem the bleeding from open wounds and it can also help to relieve a sore throat or intense coughing.
To treat open wounds, simply press the leaves of the sage against the wounds and tie it down with cordage or tape.
Alternatively, you can mix it with water to create an oil, then use the oil mixture to wash a wound, a practice used by the Ancient Greek. For treating coughing or a sore throat, mix sage in with water and then drink.
Used since the Medieval Ages, thyme is a perennial herb that is one of Mother Nature’s strongest antiseptics.
It can be pressed and held directly against open wounds to not only reduce pain and bleeding but to lower the risk of an infection as well. Thyme is found in most cooler areas in the northwestern regions of the United States.
A strong anti-inflammatory herb, turmeric is wealthy in curcumin, well-known for its pain relief properties. Turmeric is great to reduce the pain you feel from heartburn and arthritis, for example.
Avoid taking large quantities of it at a time, as it can cause abdominal pain in those circumstances. You can take turmeric by consuming the roots directly, or by grinding it down into a powder and sprinkling it over a meal.
You can also pour powdered turmeric into your drinks. Include one teaspoon of powdered turmeric for every glass or cup of whatever beverage you have.
Oral consumption is probably one of the best ways to directly access the anti-inflammatory and pain relief properties of the herb.
As with thyme, yarrow is a great herb for reducing the bleeding and preventing the risk of infection caused by open wounds.
In use since the time of the Ancient Greeks, the dried leaves of yarrow should be crushed and then placed directly against the wounds to have the most positive effect.
Throughout history, mixing yarrow with dried and crushed plantain leaves has been used to help relieve pain and stop infection.
The best time to harvest yarrow will be in the summer through the early fall in temperate climates. Pull the stalk from the ground and then allow it to dry. Afterward, strip the flowers from the stems and leaves.
Use the dried leaves in hot water to make a tea, or press the leaves directly against an open wound for immediate pain relief. You can also help alleviate a headache by pressing the leaves directly against your temples.
Which Ones Will You Start to Grow?
This is not an exhaustive list of all the medicinal herbs that I grow and that you should too, fellow prepper.
But, by cultivating these survival herbs, preserving them, as well as storing them properly, you will have the means at your disposal to treat nearly every common medical issue your family could face during a SHTF disaster.
While medicinal plants and herbs should not completely replace professional medical help, they can serve as viable alternatives in a situation where medical assistance is not available.
In a grid down situation, where you’ll have to rely on what you have stockpiled or cultivated, these plants could ultimately be what saves the life either of you or a family member.
Disclaimer. I am not a medical professional. The advice given here is for information purposes only. Before putting anything into practice from what is written here, consult your doctor.
Tara Dodrill is a homesteading and survival journalist and author. She lives on a small ranch with her family in Appalachia. She has been both a host and frequent guest on preparedness radio shows. In addition to the publication of her first book, ‘Power Grid Down: How to Prepare, Survive, and Thrive after the Lights go Out’, Dodrill also travels to offer prepping tips and hands-on training and survival camps and expos.