Before modern medicine took center stage in most developed countries as the solution to emergency care, humans all over the world used plants for wound healing.
Today, the art of herbal medicine is almost lost in the Western world. Many people view it as unnecessary knowledge.
But those who know how to read the signs understand that that knowledge may very well be needed someday. It may become the difference between life and death, pain and comfort, and sickness and wellness when suddenly medical services become unavailable for one reason or another.
Small wounds can quickly become life-threatening infections, so knowing how to disinfect and heal them quickly is an invaluable skill to have in today’s uncertain world.
Thankfully, there are many common herbs that can be used for wound healing that you can find in the wild or grow yourself. If you familiarize yourself with these plants, and how to use them, you’ll be better prepared if and when a situation calls for it.
The bright and cheery calendula plant is well-known for its wound-healing abilities.
But did you know it can also treat viral infections and stomach pain? This makes calendula one of the top choices for a versatile healing herb in your apothecary.
Calendula has been used for medicinal purposes for over a thousand years. When it comes to wound healing, it can be used on burns, cuts, scratches, and deep-open wounds.
Calendula has been shown to help wounds heal faster, most likely by increasing blood flow and oxygen to the damaged tissues, which helps the natural processes of the immune system heal them more efficiently.
It also prevents the overgrowth of bacteria which helps keep any infections at bay while your wounds are healing.
How To Use Calendula For Wound Healing
To heal wounds with calendula, harvest the flowers and petals of the plant. It’s best to collect the flowers in the summer at their medicinal peak. They can be dried or used fresh for these recipes:
- Salve: Make a salve out of calendula by infusing the flowers in some oil and combining it with beeswax. Pour the mixture into a small tin container and keep it with you for an easy wound treatment on the go.
- Cream: For a soothing calendula cream (great for use on burns and insect bites), infuse calendula flowers in some oil, then blend with coconut oil and a little bit of beeswax using a blender. This will emulsify the cream and give it a soft and airy texture.
- Tincture: Grind dry calendula flowers to a powder, and combine with distilled water and 80+ proof alcohol in a small jar. Allow it to sit for 6 weeks. Now you have a powerful tincture. Tinctures are usually used internally, but you can use this tincture topically as well. Mix a few drops in water to create a rinse that is very effective at disinfecting your wounds.
Echinacea is a well-known plant that grows in North America, and has been used by Native Americans for hundreds of years as a “cure-all.”
It features tall pink or purple flowers with a central cone where it stores its seeds. It grows in many gardens as well as in the wild.
Echinacea can boost your immune system, treat colds and viruses, and treat slow-healing wounds. Today, most people know echinacea as a tea that helps shorten the duration of a cold.
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But that is only one of the plant’s special powers. The other is wound healing, specifically on wounds that persist.
When it comes to treating cuts, it’s best to use the upper part of the plant (everything but the roots) because that’s where most of the wound-healing compounds are stored.
The echinacea plant can be used on cuts, scrapes, burns, insect bites, and snake bites. The plant has antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antiseptic properties, so it can protect you from developing serious infections at the site of the wound.
It also increases the activity of your immune system, which helps speed up healing, and decreases inflammation, which helps reduce discomfort.
How To Use Echinacea For Wound Healing
Many parts of the plant can be used, including the flowers, leaves, and stems.
The root can also be used, although it’s more effective against colds and flu rather than cuts and scrapes.
- Poultice: Echinacea-honey poultice is one of the best ways to treat wounds. Use dried ground-up leaves and mix them with an equal part of manuka honey. Apply directly over the wound.
- Paste: Similar to the poultice, a paste is something you can make immediately after harvesting and apply directly to your wounds. Pick fresh leaves from the echinacea plant, blend them up (or chew them if you don’t have access to a blender), and put the resulting paste over your wounds.
- Salve: Infuse dried echinacea leaves and flowers in some oil, mix with beeswax and pour into a small tin to bring with you to treat wounds on the go.
Marshmallow is a tall upright perennial with pale pink flowers, originated in coastal areas of Europe.
It is now widely naturalized, and can be found on just about every continent.
It’s a common herb that grows in many gardens across North America.
The plant has been used for a wide range of healing purposes for over 3,000 years. In fact, it was even mentioned in Homer’s Illiad.
In addition to healing, this plant also provides nutrition and can be used as a vegetable in times of need.
When it comes to wound healing, the root of the marshmallow plant is what you need. It helps speed up tissue repair, reduce inflammation, and keep infections at bay. It can also help with skin rashes or other inflammations thanks to its soothing quality.
The root of the marshmallow plant contains a gummy substance called mucilage. When mixed with warm water, it turns into a thick gel that can be applied directly onto the skin to induce healing effects.
The gel then dries into a sort of adhesive that protects the wound from the outside world and acts as a natural Band-Aid.
How To Use Marshmallow Root For Wound Healing
The marshmallow root can be harvested and cut up to dry. When it’s dried it’s best to grind it up further in order to use it for the following recipes:
- Poultice: Mix dried and ground-up marshmallow roots with an equal part of boiling water. Mix until it becomes jelly-like. Apply directly to your wounds.
- Salve: Infuse the dried root in oil and melt some beeswax into it. Pour into a small tin and carry it with you for treating wounds on the go.
Yes, your common table garlic, is an effective herb for killing bacteria and inducing quicker wound healing, used by many cultures throughout history.
Garlic contains allicin, which has been thoroughly studied and has shown to have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Recent studies show that allicin actually activates fibroblasts, which are special types of cells found within our bodies that contribute to the formation of connective tissues. So garlic helps increase the proliferation of these cells in affected areas when applied topically.
Of course, garlic can also be taken internally to help fight various colds and bugs, but we are going to focus on the effects of garlic on wounds.
All parts of the garlic plant contain healing constituents, but most of them are stored in the bulb.
How To Use Garlic For Wound Healing
Garlic is best used fresh from the bulb, although when in a pinch, you can also use garlic powder, which is made of dried and ground-up cloves.
- Fresh cloves: The most effective and easiest way to use garlic on wounds is to cut a fresh clove and rub the cut side over your wound.
- Paste: Make a paste out of fresh garlic cloves by blending them with a little bit of oil in a blender. If you don’t have access to a blender, chew them up. Apply directly to a wound and put gauze over it.
- Poultice: Increase the healing effects of your garlic paste (above) by adding a tablespoon of manuka honey to it to create a healing poultice. Apply the same way as you apply the paste.
Slippery elm is a common tree in North America that has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years by Native Americans.
You can often find it growing in the Eastern part of the country. Slippery elm trees can grow up to 70-90 ft tall and have hairy and deeply-veined leaves.
The leaves can be used to create poultices to heal wounds and encourage healing. The bark of the tree can also be used to treat topical ailments.
Much like the marshmallow root discussed above, slippery elm bark also contains the gummy substance known as mucilage, which is instrumental to healing. It can be used on cuts, scrapes, boils, burns, and other forms of skin inflammation.
How To Use Slippery Elm For Wound Healing
Leaves should be harvested and used fresh. When harvesting the bark, simply pick a few branches about 2 inches in diameter from the lower section of the tree and pull away the bark. If the tree is healthy, it should pull away easily. The bark can be dried and ground for later use.
- Leaf poultice: When you get hurt out in the field, simply create a poultice out of the slippery elm leaves by chewing them up and placing the resulting paste over your wounds.
- Bark poultice: Mix dried and ground bark with an equal part of warm water and mix until it has a gel-like consistency. Apply directly to the wound.
- Tea: Soak the bark in hot water for 5-10 minutes. Then soak a clean cloth in the tea and wrap it around the wounded area.
There are many other herbs and plants that support the healing of wounds. Nature has given us an abundance of resources.
We went over some of the most common plants you can get your hands on in North America. Most of them, you’ve already heard of. But there are others.
Learning about these herbs and how to prepare them will give you the upper hand and improve your chances of survival in an unexpected situation.