Many trees that commonly grown in North America and parts of Europe possess medicinal benefits. During the fall and winter months most of the medicinal trees can offer roots, twigs and bark for the healing of a multitude of standard ailments. To ensure the longevity of the tree, never cut bark from the trunk of a living tree. It is also advisable to avoid ring barking or girdling the medicinal tree. The compete removal of an entire strip of bark from around the circumference of a trunk or branch results in damage and ultimately the death, of wood tissues.
Growing your own groceries is one of the most important steps to developing and off the grid or self-reliant existence, but growing your own medicine should also be place at the top of the “to do” list. Creating an off grid pharmacy is no more difficult than raising a typical garden.
The medicinal benefits from the bark are found in the greenish yellow or green or cambium layer just beneath the outer portion of the bark. Bark can be dried and saved for the future or put to immediate use. To dry the bark properly without damaging or over-drying the cambium layer, place the bark in a shaded area and do not overlap the pieces. To prepare the bark for use, simmer about two teaspoons of the matter with one cup of water for about 20 minutes in a non-aluminum pot – with the lid on. Strain the water off, allow to cool, then pour in a cup and drink.
One dose is approximately one-quarter of a cup. The bark medicine is presumed safe to drink up to four times a day for adults around 150 pounds – consume with a meal. Children and 75 pounds and smaller adults should reduce the bark tea ingested by half. Younger children who weigh less than 40 pounds should decrease the dosage by half yet again. The bark tea can be stored in a firmly sealed Mason or other glass jar for up to a week.
Poultices and Wound Washes
If the leaf or bark tea will be used in the bath water to treat an irritation or as a wound wash, increase the amount of bark or leaves used slightly and decrease the water just a bit as well. Simmering or steeping for a few more minutes is also advised. To make a tree leaf poultice, manually or in a blender, mix the tea into a mush and add more leaf or bark (especially Elm bark) until the mixture reaches a dough type consistency. Spread the mixture onto a clean cotton cloth and apply to the wound. Leave the poultice on for about an hour before discarding. This process can be repeated daily until the wound has healed.
A fomentation style poultice made out of either bark tea or leaf tea involves soaking the significantly more liquid mixture onto a clean cotton cloth and then applying to the wound.
During the spring and summer months, the leaves are used for health aids. Steep approximately two teaspoons of either dried or fresh leaves per one cup of boiled water for about 20 minutes. Do not use an aluminum pot and keep the pot lid on during the process. The dosage amount are the same as with the tea bark. A little bit of honey or lemon can be added to improve the taste.
To make a bark tincture, use the roots, bark, or buds from the tree. Chop the matter into small chunks and place inside a glass container. Cover the pieces with 80 proof or higher alcohol, vodka is commonly used. Cover the glass container with a tight fitting lid and allow to sit for eight day – shaking occasionally each day. Then add one cup of water (spring water recommended) and one teaspoon of vegetable glycerine. Strain the material, put it in a glass bottle, and store in a cool dark place for future use.
To make a leaf tincture, follow the same initial steps as with the bark tincture, but allow the mixture to sit until the leaves or tree blossoms show signs of wilting. Follow the same water, glycerine, straining, and storage steps as the bark tincture. One dose of either tincture is about 10 drops taken up to three times per day. The dose is better taken with a big gulp of water.
To make a bark tea or leaf tea salve, put the matter in a non-aluminum pot and only barley cover it with olive oil – the cold-pressed virgin variety is reportedly the best option. Simmer for approximately 20 minutes in a lid-covered pot. Melt the beeswax in a separate pot and allow to simmer for 20 minutes as well. Three tablespoons of beeswax for every cup of olive oil is the proper ratio. Stir the contents of the two pots together, allowing it to cool and harden before storing in a glass jar with a snug lid.
Top 12 Medicinal Trees
- Alder – Astringent used as a wound wash and healing agent on deep wounds. Leaf and bark teas are used to treat tonsillitis, fever, as a douche, and for hemorrhoids. Fresh say can be applied to rashes to combat itching.
- Ash – Twig tips and leaves turned into a tea help reduce rheumatism, jaundice, and gout.
- Beech – Bark tea from this tree will help treat lung problems and was once used in tuberculosis treatments. It is also used to help cleanse the blood. Beech tea is not recommended for pregnant women. Leaf tea is used in poultices to treat frostbite and burns.
- Birch – Leaf tea helps heal sores in the mouth, bladder and kidney problems, and gout. Use bark to in a bath to aid psoriasis, skin rashes, and eczema. Birch sap contains betulinic acid which is used to help reduce tumors and fight cancer.
- Oak – White oak is often heralded as the best variety of the tree for treating internal problems. Other varieties of the oak tree have frequently been used in wound washes and poultices. Tea brewed from a white oak tree has been used to treat chronic diarrhea, sore throats, and mucus discharges. Tea brewed solely from the leaves has been used as a douche treatment for vaginitis. Herbalists caution that prolonged ingestion of teas from any oak tree could be potentially harmful.
- Elm – Bark salve and poultices are used to treat gunshot wounds chilblains, and on the abdomen to draw out fever. Bark tea is very high in calcium and helps increase the healing of injured bones, help heal sore throats, to soothe urinary and bowel issues, and to thwart diarrhea.
- Hawthorne – Leaf tea is brewed as a “cardiac tonic” but extended use is known to cause a drop in blood pressure. It is recommended to use for just two weeks and then take a week off before starting the treatment again.
- Linden – This tree is often referred to in American as basswood. The extremely tall tree grows among other massive hardwoods in moist rich soils. The leaves on the tree are heart shaped. Tea made from the tree’s flowering buds have been used to treat heart flutters, nervousness, vomiting, indigestion, headaches, and hysteria. The bark and roots from the tree mixed with its flowers have been used to treat burns, coughs, headache, epilepsy, and overall pain when brewed into a tea. Tree buds and bark have also been pounded into a small bits and boiled as a soup.
- Hazel – The small tree is perfect for folks without ample growing space. The small nut clusters typically grow in groups of two or four. Twigs from the hazel tree have been used to bolster kidney health. Herbalists have also used bark from the tree to treat ulcers and various types of tumors. The Chippewa tribe mixed together white oak root, bark from a chokecherry tree, heartwood or ironwood, and hazel root to help stop bleeding from the lungs.
- Maple – A leaf wound wash or poultice is used to relieve sore eyes and soreness of the breasts for nursing mothers and pregnant women. Bark tea is used to treat kidney infections, the common cold, and bronchitis.
- Poplar – Native Americans often used bark from the Balsam poplar tree to aid sore gums, mouth swellings, and toothaches. Poplar buds gathered in the spring have been used to combat scurvy, rheumatic pain, bladder problems, gout, headaches, and in salves to treat wounds and eczemia. White poplar roots have been used by some to stop bleeding in pregnant women. Since polar barks are considered high in salicin, they have frequently been used to treat gangrene, burns, body odor, cancer sores, and deep wounds.
- Pine – All varieties of pines have been applauded for their antiseptic properties. White pine is often regarded as the “most palatable” for internal use. Pine tree twigs and needles are said to contain copious amounts of Vitamin C and are often used in herbal and medicinal teas. The teas are used to treat the common cold, coughs, and sore throats. Chinese herbalists have been known to boil the knot of pine trees to make use of the concentrated resins contained inside. Bath in the mixture is said to improve circulation, soothe sore muscles, calm the nerves, and aid kidney problems.