Survival basics: An easy guide to building your own apothecary

Water. Check. Storable food. Check. Medicinal herb garden. Wait, what? If you’re a “prepper” type who’s been stocking up on survival supplies in anticipation of a potential emergency scenario, perhaps you’ve overlooked the importance of developing your own personal “pharmacy” for when things hit the fan.

Having bandages and aspirin on hand is one thing, but have you considered the importance of plant extracts for keeping you and your family healthy in the event of social upheaval? Knowing how to grow medicinal herbs at home, as well as draw out their healing goodness, is one of the most important survival skills you can learn – and one that many people fail to even consider.

So how does one start? An herbal apothecary might seem intimidating at first, but once you learn the basics, it’s actually pretty easy. The first thing you need to know is that growing herbs, spices, roots, and other medicinal plants requires very minimal space. Secondly, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, which means almost anyone can do it.

For most people, the easiest way to begin is to simply start planting your favorite herbs in pots around your home and yard. You can learn more about what plants and herbs do what by checking out, as well as

You’ll also want to research the climate preferences of different plants and herbs, as well as companion plants that grow well together (or that don’t). Survival Sullivan has a lot more information on this that you can peruse.

Hiding your medicinal herbs in plain sight like this will not only keep them within easy reach, but also protect them against potential thieves who would otherwise spot them all clustered together in, say, a greenhouse.

So what kinds of plants are worth planting, and how can they be prepared for long-term storage? Here are some top picks:

Aloe vera. This succulent plant is very easy to grow and maintain, and taking advantage of its benefits is as simple as breaking off a leaf and extracting its gel. Aloe vera gel can help to heal burns and wounds, as well as fight harmful viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

Oregano. This easy-to-grow herb is a must-have when it comes to its antimicrobial potential. If you’ve ever heard of oil of oregano, this is the plant from which it’s extracted. Both dried and fresh oregano is a powerhouse of antibacterial, antioxidant, antimicrobial, expectorant, and diuretic goodness. It’s also loaded with an array of healing vitamins and minerals.

Ginger. This one’s easy to hide because it grows under the soil. Ginger contains compounds like leukotrienes and prostaglandins that make it a powerful pain-reliever, similar to ibuprofen. Ginger is also powerfully anti-inflammatory, with pronounced benefits in treating stomach pain, nausea, and motion sickness.

Dandelions. You may not even need to put any effort into growing these, as they typically grow wild in many parts of the world. But don’t be fooled by the fact that most people consider them a worthless weed; dandelions are incredibly therapeutic, and simply boiling them into tea can provide noticeable benefits.

Stinging nettle. This is another common “weed” that many people use naturally to treat things like allergies, skin rashes, kidney infections, and urinary tract infections. Just be sure to wear gloves when you pick them because they’re quite prickly!

Honey. Learning how to raise your own bees at home is an invaluable skill, as their honey, beeswax, and royal jelly represent some of the most functional foods known to mankind. All three substances are incredibly healing, with benefits that range from immune support to wound healing. These bee substances are also probiotic in nature, and may even help to boost fertility.

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