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Herbs for Wound Healing

Posts: 715
Location: Blue Ridge Mountains
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Oops, I meant to post this yesterday... oh well, here is a bonus for the week!

From Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People:

Many of the herbs we would use for bleeding and disinfecting wounds would also be useful for helping wounds to heal.  Chief among these would be Plantain, Bugle and Calendula. These are all herbs that are excellent for promoting the healing of wounds.

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is the undisputed king of wound healing or "vulnerary" herbs.  The old English common name for Comfrey was "knit-bone".  Comfrey contains allantoin, a substance which has recently come under scrutiny.  Essentially, Comfrey causes the propagation of protein, or cell growth.  For centuries, it has been used to heal wounds, broken bones and joint damage.  It is a very powerful herb for tissue repair.  However, it encourages the growth of all cells - cancer cells, as well.  For this reason, it should not be used internally by people who have tumors, cancerous or pre-cancerous cells.  I would encourage you to do your own research on Comfrey and to take the caveat that Doc Jones gives under advisement.  Doc Jones always reminds us that the government studies on Comfrey gave incredible quantities to baby rats.... the equivalent of gallons of highly concentrated Comfrey tea to humans.  Doc Jones says that this study proved only that nearly drowning baby rats in Comfrey could encourage cancer growth so "Don't give Comfrey to baby rats."  A normal dose of Comfrey is actually less carcinogenic, or cancer causing, than the alcohol in one can of cheaply made beer.  The government says it is okay to use topically, but not internally.  I use Comfrey internally.  Every herbalist I know uses Comfrey internally.  Comfrey has been used for thousands of years internally. You will have to make your own decisions.

How effective is Comfrey for healing wounds and injuries?  I will give two examples.

Recently, I was listening to a lecture by an herbalist named 7 Song... well, obviously that isn't his real name.  He specializes in first aid for Rainbow Gatherings (where they assume tribal names) and street protests.  So yes, he is a man of the left and way out "where the busses don't run" in that regard.  However, he is an extremely knowledgeable herbalist.  He is a good teacher, and he also operates a free clinic, where he treats all manner of conditions with herbs.  7 Song cautioned that, in treating deep cuts, puncture wounds and infected wounds, we should wait to use Comfrey.  He said that if the wound is not completely disinfected, the Comfrey could cause the wound to close, trapping infection under the skin.  THAT is a powerful wound healer!

A couple of years ago, I totally blew out my knee.  I was under far too heavy a load and put all my weight on one leg, at an awkward angle.  My knee bent in half... sideways!  I dropped everything, fell to the ground and snapped it back into place.  I tried to stand, but it buckled under any weight.  A neighbor saw me trying to crawl up the driveway and lent me a hand into the house.  My knee turned almost black and swelled up like volleyball.  It was bad - serious damage.  I treated it myself, using mainly turmeric and black pepper for inflammation, aspirin and Comfrey.   I walked with a cane for a couple of months, but was soon able to do light rehab.  It was a year before I could do squats in the gym, but it healed up just fine.  A trapper friend injured his knee in a similar way, but he went to the Emergency Room.  After lots of meds and a surgery, physical therapy and regular doctor visits to have a needle stuck in his knee and the fluid drained off (ouch!), he was no better... maybe even worse.  I recommend Comfrey to him, and within two weeks he was much improved and going to the gym.  He was out trapping beavers the same season!

Mullein (Verbascum densiflorum) is a common "weed" in nearly every part of the country.  Mullein is generally used as a lung herb - it is expectorant and soothing to the lungs and throat taken as tea, tincture or smoked.  However, Mullein is also an excellent wound herb.  Mullein is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and wound healing.  Mullein is also anodyne, meaning it helps reduce pain.  Mullein leaves are something like large, furry tobacco leaves in size, shape and texture.  This makes Mullein a natural bandage and an excellent poultice, but it can also be used as a tea, wash or tincture.  A Mullein poultice is said to be "drawing", which makes it helpful for bites, stings and infections. Mullein infused oil is antibacterial.

Saint John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) oil is not only antiseptic and antiviral, but it is also wound healing.  Saint John's Wort has the unique property of helping heal nerve injuries taken internally as a tincture, tea or capsule and massaged into the affected area as an oil or wash.

Wild Rose (Rose family - basically all non-hybridized roses) is generally used as an astringent and anti-inflammatory but is also useful as a vulnerary or wound healing herb.

Violets (viola) - most, if not all, members of the Violet family contain Salicylic acid, which is natural aspirin.  Violets are wound healing and soothing to the skin.  Most are edible, and some are delicious!  Violets have many medicinal uses.  Some may cause stomach upset or nausea if eaten in quantity - check a good field guide or Plant ID ap to be sure of identification.

Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea) has traditionally been used as a vulnerary, but it can be toxic taken internally.  It is also in the same family as some very poisonous herbs that look similar, such as the deadly Poison Hemlock.  For this reason, it should probably not be used unless one is very, very sure that the plant has been correctly identified, and even then, only with extreme caution.

Aloe vera gel, from inside the plant, works as a protective coat over a wound, helping to keep infection out while also keeping the tissue soft.  It is astringent and anti-inflammatory.  The inner pulp of Pricky Pear Cactus pads may be used similarly.

Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) may be used internally to encourage healing.  It also reduces inflammation and is a slightly sedative tonic.

Turmeric and its relative, Ginger may help wound healing by reducing inflammation.  Turmeric may also have an effect on the production of collagen, which aids in wound healing.  Turmeric should always be combined with black pepper, and a natural fat/oil when taken internally, so that the liver can better process it and the body better absorb it.

Garlic and Onions also aid in healing, especially when combined with honey.  Honey is a natural antiseptic, that also has wound healing properties.  Although sticky and unpleasant, ground alliums, mixed with honey, make an excellent treatment for wounds.  This should obviously be covered with a bandage, or you will have a real mess.

A Saltwater soak may also aid in wound healing.  Nearly every sea-side culture on earth has held the belief that saltwater and sunlight is an excellent treatment for wounds.  Many traditional healers will say that it is due to the high levels of natural minerals in seawater.  However, most doctors would point out that the water is apt to be contaminated either with pollution or natural bacteria that can cause infection.  Personally, I never hesitate to soak my wounds in the water while fishing or just enjoying the beach.  It find that the saltwater, an ocean breeze and intense sunlight closes and dries in minor wounds faster than most anything... if I can keep the flies off!  Those biting flies at the beach can be a terrible nuisance.  It may be safer to use table salt, Epsom salts or other mineral salts at home.

The above article is an excerpt from my new book Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People

You can read about and purchase Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People here: southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/2021/10/herbal-medicine-for-preppers.html

Also available on Amazon: Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People: Carroll, Judson: 9798491252923: Amazon.com: Books


The information on this site is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease or condition. Nothing on this site has been evaluated or approved by the FDA. I am not a doctor. The US government does not recognize the practice of herbal medicine and their is no governing body regulating herbalists. Therefore, I'm just a guy who studies herbs. I am not offering any advice. I won't even claim that anything I write is accurate or true! I can tell you what herbs have "traditionally been used for." I can tell you my own experience and if I believe an herb helped me. I cannot, nor would I tell you to do the same. If you use any herb I, or anyone else, mentions you are treating yourself. You take full responsibility for your health. Humans are individuals and no two are identical. What works for me may not work for you. You may have an allergy, sensitivity or underlying condition that no one else shares and you don't even know about. Be careful with your health. By continuing to read my blog you agree to be responsible for yourself, do your own research, make your own choices and not to blame me for anything, ever.
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