Posts Tagged ‘medicinal plants’

I have come to the sad conculsion that I am not in any kind of physical shape for the apocalypse. I just read the pre-notes for the Survivial School I am taking this weekend. The first piece of advice he gives is to arrive to the class in shape. Apparently wandering around the desert all day looking for edible plants can wear a man out.  The improtance of being in physical shape is one of the best things one can do to get ready has popped up multiple times in prepper books and forums.

I believe I am in the worst shape of my life. The 6 mile hike I did a couple of weekends ago  zapped me for two days.
Unfortunately, it is difficult for me to find the build the habit of exercising on a regular bais. Lately I have been thinking that maybe a goal would help and then the warrior dash crossed my radar. I missed the one held last weekend, but perhaps I should set the goal to run the “3.4 Hellish Miles” next year. Assuming society still exists come April 2012.

In the meantime, I have been doing more of the the only type of execise I really enjoy, which is hiking.  This week I managed to go for three steep but quick hikes.

Next weekend I am taking a survival class for four days, we are going to walk a lot. I hope I am ready.

Below: Saw this tree blooming in the desert. Anybody got any idea what it is? It is pink flowers, and short stubby leaves. More photos at the flickr page, follow the link from the photo.

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I went for a hike last weekend to see what the desert is currently producing.  There are no pods yet on the mesquite,  and no wildflowers yet.  However, I did see several Ocotillo plants in full bloom.

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Above: Blooming Ocotillo plant.

According to Herbal Medicine of the American Southwest by Charles W. Kane the bark and flower can be used to dislodge phlegm, sedate a cough, provide relief to hemorrhoids, encourage circulation for prostatitis and simulate menses. Being a real man, I had no idea what “simulate menses” meant, and had to google it.  I discovered it means “the monthly flow of blood and cellular debris from the uterus.”  Why anyone would want to simulate this is beyond me. 

I have been using myself as a guinea pig for all the medicines I have been gathering.  Luckily I don’t (currently) have hemorrhoids or an enlarged prostatitis.  I would also expect it would be difficult to find a woman who is willing to volunteer to drink plant bark in order to, you know, simulate the return of Miss Scarlett.  But I am going to collect some of the flowers and bark anyway.

As a coincidence (I am reluctant to call it a sign) the Ocotillo plant I photographed above was right beside the petroglyph photographed below.  I have long wondered if the central character in this panel represents a woman going through her monthly cycle. 

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Update:  This link shows how to make Homemade Sanitary Pads.

I have succesully turned Brittlebush and Creosote into medicine.

I have yet to actually try either of the medicines yet. I am a little scarred they might kill me.

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I cut a large hole in the top of two thin rectangular boxes and dried the leaves and stems in the boxes.

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Creosote on top and Brittlebush below.

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I put a paper towel between herbs and cardboard because I am not sure if cardboard would hurt the herbs. Is there some kind of weird die in cardboard?

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Brittlebush after dried.

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After crunching the plants up in my hands there was a lot less of each. I had not gathered nearly as much as I thought I had.

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Creosote is being stored in the old tuna can and Brittlebush is being stored in the clay pot.

Note: This posting was originally written as a submission for Pool Boy Magazine,  the independent adult lifestyle magazine for badass women, and clearly a NSFW site.

Hollywood loves to play with how our sexual morals will change after humanity falls. In reality, some women living in the end times will not want to get pregnant from just any man possible.  Not everyone will agree that it “will be our duty to procreate and replace the human species.”  People will most likely continue to have sex for fun. It is, after all, the world’s oldest recreation.

So let’s assume your local pharmacy has already been raided by looters, what is a woman to do?  Without a doubt the best place to start is the Hesperian Foundation’s book Where there is no Doctor.  The Hesperian Society is committed to spreading health care to developing countries.  Their book is designed to give medical advice to a community who has limited resources, which is just what like the Apocalypse will be like.

Included in Chapter 20 is a handy reference guide outlining the various birth control methods currently available, and the varying degree of success of each to protect against pregnancy as well as STD’s.

I realize a woman may not want to rely on her ability to count on a regular basis, but Chapter 20, page 291 describes in great detail how the counting method works.  Me, personally, I would trust the Hesperian Foundation’s version over the Catholic Church’s version.  I would also recommend Wikipedia’s entry on the Calendar method as a good place to start one’s research, but unfortunately the internet will not work when the grid fails.

Now obviously the calendar method is not a lady’s first choice as an absolute guarantee against pregnancy.  So what else have we got after the modern-day pharmaceutical empire has fallen into the dust bin of history?

Let’s assume that modern medicine had ways to prevent pregnancy, and let’s assume that we no longer have modern medicine.  Let’s also assume that much of modern medicine borrowed from things people knew about plants.

The only  list I have found that describes which plants are good to replace birth control, is halfway down the comments in a long online conversation about birth control without the pill.  As we all know anything anyone says on the internet has to be right, right?

Now I, nor Wikipedia are advocating for abortions, or that people start to take these chemicals arbitrarily.  However, it stands to reason that any plant that could cause an abortion could also prevent a pregnancy.  The dosage might be a little different.  Now I am no doctor, and I have never played one on TV, but Wikipedia has a list of plants and chemicals that can induce abortions.

Consulting a local medicine/plant expert  would probably be best. I know who I would recommend in Arizona, but I can’t speak for the rest of the county.  Note, a class would be best to do before society crumbles and we have to live by thunderdome rules.

Searching the internet for birth control methods came up with a couple of  less-than-practical options.  The first is condom’s made of animal intestines, used since the time of the Egyptians.  However I am guessing putting on a goat’s small intestine might spoil the mood.

Also heavily discussed is the option to continue brest feeding.  In the Eighteenth Century is was common for women to breast feed all the way until toddlerhood in order to space out the births.   According to breastfeeding basics the mother has to be “exclusively breastfeeding” meaning the poor woman is constantly going to have the kid attached.  If the goal is to not get pregnant, and one has to have a child for this method to work, then we are left with a Catch-22

So without the pill and modern medicine a woman is not left with a lot of great options,  the sexual revolution did come after the pill after all, no?  So I hate to get all religious right on you, but perhaps the woman’s best choice to avoid pregnancy after the Apocalypse is absence or if that not is possible,  have a mutated animal as a boyfriend.

I am looking forward to the weekend.  I had to work last Saturday, which made the last two weeks go long.  I have not been able to do many experiments in the last couple of weeks, so I spent more time doing internet research.    This weekend’s plans include the following:

  • Turn Brittlebush leaves into medicine.   A couple of weekends ago I went for a hike and saw the desert has a ton of brittlebush right now.   I gathered some leaves and have dried them out, so now I think I am supposed to mash them up or something.  While doing research I learned the sap from brittlebush can be used as incense and/or gum, which I think is pretty cool, so next time out I might see how much sap I can gather.

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Brittlebush in AZ Desert Botanical Garden

  • Build a solar still, which will involve digging a wide hole.  One is supposed to dig in a place that would have water in the soil, but as I am doing this in my backyard, I am going to supplement the water still but putting in weeds and sucking the water out of the plants. 
  • Use shadow of stick to figure out which way is west.
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    • Prep for the no grid water for the weekend experiment.
    • Gather water bottles.
    • Gather pine needles for composting toilet.
    • Begin gathering some Creosote Bush stems.  According to Survivorman, one can burn the stems in a fire and the smoke can be used to clean (or rather disinfect) oneself.  The plant makes its own chemicals that make animals and insects not want to eat it, and these same chemicals can be used to disinfect oneself if you don’t have any water.  It is also one of the few desert plants that can be used for toilet paper in a pinch (bad pun intended).     One a side note, the plant is a virtual medicine cabinet for many other uses as well.   Maybe make some tea out of it?  Creosote is so good at repelling harmful stuff, I wonder if it would work on Zombies?

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    Creosote in AZ Desert Botanical Garden