Inflammatory diseases can affect any part of our body, from joints and muscles to our intestine, internal organs, and even our skin. Many are not life threatening, but they are debilitating and difficult to live with, causing pain and even disablement. You probably know of someone who has a disease like Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Lupus even diseases like eczema, IBS and asthma have an inflammatory element.
I am writing this from a hospital ward because I have one of these diseases. I’ve had it for about 5 years. Before I became ill, I would often think about what I would need to do if the SHTF, especially how I’d cope with food resources. Since becoming ill and seeing how this disease affects my life, I now think about how I’d manage the illness when I can no longer come into the hospital and use modern drugs.
Managing Inflammation When the SHTF
Currently, if you get one of the diseases that come under the banner of inflammatory conditions, especially one of the more severe types, you will usually be offered certain drugs that help the condition. These drugs are usually a corticosteroid like Prednisone, NSAID drugs, like Celebrex, which reduces inflammation and helps with pain, and aspirin (also a type of NSAID). If there is an element of autoimmune to the disease (and many of these types of conditions are autoimmune related) then you may be also given an immunosuppressant such as methotrexate or Imuran.
All the above drugs are effective but come with sometimes severe side effects. They also don’t ‘cure’ the condition, they just alleviate the symptoms, and help your body to get back to a more normal state. They do help in reducing the likelihood of disablement due to the disease which is an important aspect of the whole treatment of inflammatory conditions, especially the likes of RA, Lupus, and myositis.
With this in mind, we can look at what we can do, to treat ourselves or prepare to treat ourselves if we end up with an inflammatory condition. Bearing in mind that some of these conditions are associated with high levels of stress, you can imagine that after the SHTF has settled down, there may well be a surge in such conditions.
Can you stock up on the drugs needed to treat inflammatory conditions?
The answer to the above question is that, yes, you can in some cases. Aspirin, for example, has a long shelf life (several years) as long as you keep the bottle closed so no moisture gets in. However, the shelf life of some of the drugs is not the issue. The issue is using certain drugs, such as corticosteroids and immunosuppressant’s, is dangerous. I have to have very regular blood checks to make sure that my kidney and liver are not damaged. And of course these sorts of drugs cause your immune system to be suppressed so you catch bugs; catching bugs when the SHTF is not a good idea.
So instead we need to look to more natural ways of managing inflammatory conditions. These natural anti-inflammatories may not be as highly effective as our modern counterparts, but they will also not be as aggressive. When the SHTF we will have little or no choice but to look to nature for our medicines.
Curcumin (found in turmeric):
Curcumin is a type of naturally occurring chemical compound that is found in the spice, turmeric. Turmeric is used in cooking, typically to spice and give the rice a yellowish color. There have been a number of studies looking at the use of curcumin in helping with inflammatory conditions like RA.
You can buy high dosage pills and stock up on these, the shelf life, if kept unopened would be several years. There have a been a lot of studies into the use of turmeric on inflammatory conditions, studies showing that you can take up to 8000 mg per day without adverse effect, over short periods. However, over longer periods, dosages of around 1500-2500 are effective and have little side effects.
If you don’t have access to high dosage pills, but do have turmeric, you can make a drink by mixing it with milk. I will warn you, it tastes pretty bad, but you can mix honey in if you like sweetness.
We’ve written a whole article on how to make your own aspirin . There has been some medical research into the effectiveness of aspirin in inflammation, the results being positive. Conditions like osteoarthritis and muscular-based back pain are especially receptive to the use of aspirin, or aspirin-like compounds. The studies show you need a reasonable dose of aspirin to see anti-inflammatory effects, doses of around 75 mg per day can be tolerated long term. If you are using natural aspirin, i.e. salicin, as described in our article on natural aspirin, then you need to work out the equivalent dosage. White willow bark contains around 15% salicin. Therefore if you had 100 mg of white willow bark, you would have 15 mg of salicin.
NOTE this is milligrams NOT grams. So you don’t need much to get your dosage, per day, to alleviate inflammation.
Omega 3 Fish Oils
Studies have shown that Omega 3 fish oils are a very effective anti-inflammatory. In a study where the 250 adults were using modern NSAIDS to manage a back related inflammatory condition, more than half found omega fish oils to be more effective than NSAIDS. You should not confuse omega 6 oils (which are common in meats) and omega 3 plant oils with the omega 3 fish oils. There’s a useful chart here: showing how much omega 3 oils are in different types of fish – it’s worth printing or copying this chart out for future reference.
The trouble with omega oils as a liquid is that they don’t last very long. So as far as sticking up for when the SHTF is concerned, you will have limited use from that form. Capsules may last longer, especially if kept in a cold place. In the long term, you need to take it in natural form. However, the dosages that are required for effectiveness are around 1.5-5g per day, which is quite a lot of fish.
Chili pepper is a well known anti-inflammatory. It has been used by native American Indians for 1000’s of years as both a medicinal drug and as a weapon (the smoke from burning chili peppers warding off enemies).
The active ingredient in the chili pepper is called capsaicin, which is at a concentration of about 12%, e.g. 12 mg per 100 mg. Obviously, you don’t want to be eating a load of chili pepper that would be pretty painful.
You can use chili pepper cream based patches in low and high concentrations for different degrees of problems. For example, a high concentration patch would be around 8% capsaicin and a low one at least 0.025%. The high one could be used to treat acute inflamed wounds whereas the low concentration one is best for long term use on arthritis.
To make a cream from chili peppers as an arthritis rub
- About 3-4 cups of an oil like olive oil
- A cup of beeswax
- Four tablespoons of habanero powder or around 3.5 ounces of dried chili peppers, ground up.
- A lidded bottle
Heat the oil up and add in the habanero powder or dried and ground chilies. Heat the mix gently for about 10 minutes. Take off the heat
Warm the beeswax and add to the mix. Stir until all the mix is homogenous. Cool it down and then add to the lidded bottle. It should keep for up to 2 weeks.
Maritime Pine Bark
This is a tree native to Mediterranean regions, but it is found as an ornamental tree in North American gardens. The active ingredient is a chemical called pycnogenol. Studies have found it to be effective in people with asthma and Lupus erythematous.
You can buy it as a supplement from health food shops and stock up on it – it should have a reasonable shelf life of about 1-2 years if kept dry and cool. However, if you don’t have access to stocked tablets, you can make a tea from the bark or you can chew it – the native Americans would chew cooked bark for medicinal purposes.
Maritime Bark Tea
You need to use fresh bark for this, so either cut a branch off a tree, cut a piece out directly from a standing tree, or find a fallen tree.
You can use both the outer bark and the inner white bark. Strip off really thin pieces of bark and cook them in a pan until they crisp up – you need a fairly high heat for this. You can do it in an oven instead, but it’s quicker to use a fry pan.
Once the bark is crisped up, it is easier to break the bark up into flakes which you can then steep in hot water for about 20-30 minutes, strain and then drink as tea.
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