Medicinal Plants Backpackers Should Know

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Why learn about medicinal plants? Certainly, backpackers shouldn’t leave the first aid kit home, but it can be useful and interesting to know a few plant medicines too. Whether you are someday in a survival situation, or you just lost your first aid kit and have a terrible headache, wouldn’t it be nice to find relief nearby?

You can. There are many effective medicinal plants. Some are also dangerous, of course, just like synthetic medicines can be. I won’t discuss those here. This is a quick guide to a few safe plant medicines.

Plants For Pain Relief

Fill the bottom of a cup with shredded willow bark, and make a cup of tea with it. Let it steep for a few minutes before you drink it. The active ingredient is salicin, closely related to salacylic acid, which is used to make aspirin. You can also try chewing on a few balsam poplar buds.

Antiseptic Plants

Sap from “blisters” on balsam firs is a strong antiseptic. Pop the blisters on the trunks of young trees, and the sap will ooze out. You can spread it over cuts and small wounds to prevent infection. It is very sticky, however, and it will be difficult to wash off...

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