Medicinal Plants

What do you reach for when in the wild when you need first aid?

Medicinal Plants

Postby Pointman » Tue Jun 04, 2013 8:46 am

Medicinal plants has been a passion of mine for some time now ever since I was a medic in Nam forty some years ago. The first consideration when beginning to look at this subject is what you need or what you might need medicinal plants for. The first thing that comes to mind is bleeding. I can't seem to go into the woods without at least getting a small cut or scratch somewhere even though I wear gloves most of the time. The thing I keep in my arsenal (small medicine bag) is Catbriar root for bleeding. Keeping the wound clean and free from infection is paramount especially in a survival situation. Small cuts are easily handled with a little water to cleanse it and maybe some chapstick or super glue to seal it. Deeper wounds and profuse bleeding that require more than a bandaid are what I would like to address here.

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Peterson's Field Guide for Medicinal Plants and Herbs will tell you that the scientific name (Latin) for Yarrow is Achillea millefolium. It goes on to state that the Greek "legend states that Achilles used a poultice of Yarrow flowers to stop the bleeding of his wounded soldiers in battle." This amazing plant can be used for many other things besides a styptic. Although this plant works really well for bleeding, when you get cut you need it right now and cannot always depend on finding fresh leaves or if it is even in bloom to collect flowers in the immediate area. This is why I use Catbriar root. This stuff grows everywhere in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas anyplace there is a thicket or woods. The green tops and leaves are an excellent trail nibble or the root can be crushed in water and the starch leeched out like you would cattail. As a medicinal, the root is dried and ground into a course powder and applied directly to the wound. It is also anti-inflammatory. You can easily carry the powder in a small container (i use a plastic film canister) and is always within reach. Personally I think Catbriar (sawbriar, bullbriar, or greenbriar) works much better than Yarrow and even though there are several species of Smilax, it is almost impossible to misidentify. Go dig some up, process it, and try it on your next cut and see for yourself. Here's a few images of the over 300 species in the USA.

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Last edited by Pointman on Tue Jun 04, 2013 9:56 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Medicinal Plants

Postby BigJesse » Tue Jun 04, 2013 9:23 am

Nice write up man. I've never heard it referred to as "Catbriar", I've heard greenbriar most of my life.

Pointman wrote:As soon as I figure out how to insert an image my next posts will be better, sorry.


To post an image from a link click "Img" and paste the URL. To upload from your computer click "Upload attachment" then "Choose File" and "Add the file".
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Re: Medicinal Plants

Postby Pointman » Tue Jun 04, 2013 9:47 am

Thanks for the comment. I always called it "bitchvine" cuz every time I ran into it or tripped over it that's what I did, bitch and cuss. :)

Guess I'm blind, I don't see the Upload attachment button anywhere.
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Re: Medicinal Plants

Postby BigJesse » Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:00 am

It's kind of amazing how the same plant can be right next to each other and the leaves looks so different.
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Re: Medicinal Plants

Postby Pointman » Tue Jun 04, 2013 1:10 pm

You're right of course. I'ld really like to see this subject expanded and more posts but that's just driven by my personal interest in the subject.
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Re: Medicinal Plants

Postby saustin1967 » Tue Jun 04, 2013 1:24 pm

"Forget me not", seems like it always reaches out and grabs you as if to say "don't forget me"
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Re: Medicinal Plants

Postby real_steel » Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:54 am

That is great to know. I am surrounded by greenbriar. I am definitely gonna make up a batch. I have actually already tried this process because Merriwether suggested using the starch from the roots to make flour. It was alot harder than I thought it was going to be. You really have to hunt for briar with large bases because they will also have the biggest roots. The roots are also very hard to slice (for drying) and my knife was razor sharp. And finally when I had it all crushed up it did not separate in the water as well as I thought it would. Long story short I burned alot of calories and got very little starch.

Are you talking about any part of the briar root or just the large tubers?
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Re: Medicinal Plants

Postby Pointman » Tue Jun 18, 2013 7:48 am

The large tubers contain the most starch and yeah they are tough. Kinda like cutting tire rubber. Look for the younger roots that are not quite as tough. If the vine is about 6' long the root is not only easier to dig up but is not nearly as tough. Granted you have to do a bit more digging but then again just how much do you really need to get a small batch of dried starch for medicinal purposes. Although you can use it as an edible starch, the ROI of calories is definitely not worth the effort. Too many other things Like Kudzu or Cattails that require much less calories and render a much larger volume of starch. Acorns or grass seeds are probably the easiest sources for starch that I can think of off hand.
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Re: Medicinal Plants

Postby NeckRed Gringo » Thu Jun 23, 2016 8:11 pm

We need to keep this thread going, or maby even talk and take pictures to make a tutorial on making some of this medicine. Think ill just go to pointmans house and let him show me how lol. Easier then reading about it. Good job man now I know why your first aid kit is in an altoids tin.
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Re: Medicinal Plants

Postby Pointman » Mon Jun 27, 2016 7:26 am

You've seen how I store stuff in straws and you can cram a lot of stuff in an Altoids tin for day trips and over nighter's. The further away from civilization and the longer you are out requires a bit more but you still don't nead to haul around a 6 lb, full blown trauma bag around.
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