Medical Remedies Found In Nature

By Anthea Campbell the urban guide to almost selfsufficiency

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Please use the quick links opposite for faster navigation on this page or if you are looking for a remedy for a particular aliment please click here for a list of aliments with links back here for the use of herb, vegetable or fruit.

This is just an introduction into the world of herbs and plants that can help aid against disease and bodily complaints. I have compiled together a list of vegetables, herbs and plants that are common to the British countryside or easily available. I have supplied a list of remedies and dosages that can be made for common ailments, which I have predominantly taken from the "Complete Medicinal Herbal" by Penelope Ody.  

If you have any questions please drop me a note on the message forum and I will be happy to reply, this can include aromatherapy and Bach remedy questions. If in doubt please refer to books such as the "Complete Medicinal Herbal", which will give you detailed instructions and pictured examples of everything you will need.

You might want to visit our friends at freedom Towns who have a useful page on herbal preperations.

WARNING: Please ensure whilst gathering herbs, plants, etc that you have identified each one correctly. If you have any serious symptoms, please consult a doctor first.

Different types of Preparation for Herbal Remedies

AGRIMONY (Herb- do not use if suffering from constipation)

The branches and leaves can be used for diarrhoea, bronchitis and urinary infections. In the past it has been used on the battlefield to heal wounds. It aids inflammation, ulcers and stems bleeding. Gather before and during early flowering in summer.  

How To Use

•  Infused in hot water it makes a gentle remedy for diarrhoea.

•  Wash with infusion for sores and eczema

•  Tincture (see below for definition), a potent remedy. Use for cystitis, urinary infections, bronchitis and heavy menstrual bleeding.

•  Poultice. Apply poultice of agrimony leaves for migraines.


APPLES (You know what they are)

Fresh apples whilst eaten in the morning are especially cleansing for the system whilst nearer the end of the day they act more like a laxative. They have been traditionally used for inflammation of the skin (applied in a poultice).

How To Use

•  Eaten fresh can aid in constipation, sour apples are used as a diuretic in cystitis and other urinary infections. Eat stewed for diarrhoea.

•  Infusion in water as a warming drink for rheumatic pains and intestinal colic, and as a cooling remedy for feverish colds.

•  You can use the Juice neat or mixed with olive oil as an application for cuts and grazes.

•  Poultice can be applied for scabies.

Basil   (Herb)

Brilliant for insect bites and for cold conditions. Harvest before flowering. Only use the leaves. For an article on Basil, including how to grow it click here.

How to use

•  Fresh use on insect bites to reduce itching and inflammation.

•  Wash , combine with an equal quantity of honey for itching skin and ring worm.

•  Juice mix with cinnamon and cloves for chills.

•  Syrup made by combining the juice with equal portions of honey for coughs.

•  Oil, a couple of drops in bath for nervous exhaustion, mental fatigue.

WARNING: Do not use the essential oil in pregnancy.

Bladderwrack   (Seaweed)

When eaten this plant helps when patient is feeling weak/fatigue. This plant is rich in iodine, if lacking in diet, this can lead to thyroid deficiency. Harvest this plant alive from the sea, not from the seashore. Warning - seaweed is at risk from metal pollution, do not harvest where levels of cadmium and mercury are known to be high.

How To Use

•  Infused in water this plant can aid in weight loss especially if weight gain is linked to low metabolism.

•  A tincture can be made for thyroid deficiency or rheumatic conditions.

Borage   (Herb)

Borage stimulates the adrenal glands which gears the body for action in stressful situations. The leaves can be used as an adrenal tonic for stress or to counter the lingering effects of steroid therapy. They can also be used for dry coughs and to stimulate milk flow. Harvest throughout the season.

In the past the flowers have been added to cough syrup and in wine to make men merry. Oil extracted from seeds aid in menstrual cycle and applied externally for eczema.

How To Use

•  Infused in water for early stages of feverish colds/lung disorders.

•  As an Tincture take 10ml, three times a day as a tonic following steroid therapy   and for stress.

•  Juice can be drank of pulped leaves to aid depression, grief and anxiety. Diluted juice can be used on skin for irritations, dryness and rashes.

Burdock (Herb)

The leaves can be used for stomach problems, including indigestion. Harvest before or during early flowering. The root is considered the most important part of the burdock, used for cleansing and as an eliminative remedy for a build up of toxins that lead to skin problems. It helps remove pains caused by arthritis. Harvest before or during early flowering.

How To Use

•  Use the root as a decoction for skin problems, the seeds prepared this way should be taken for feverish colds/ sore throat and coughs.

•  Use the root as poultice for skin sores, and use the leaves in a poultice for acne, bruises or inflammation.

•  Wash with root for acne/fungal skin infections.

•  Infuse leaves for mild indigestion. Take in a wine glass before meals


The leaves can be used directly on wounds, ulcers and inflammations. Recently they have been demonstrated as effective for treating stomach ulcers.

How to use

•  Use leaves directly on sprained joints, wounds, arthritic joints. Pull out a leaf from the centre, gently beat it and bind it to where needed.

•  A syrup made from the decotation should be taken for chesty coughs, asthma and bronchitis. 10 ml doses.

•  Decoction can be made for colitis. 60g leaves in 500ml boiled for an hour. Wine glass doses.

•  Juice for gastric or duodenal ulceration. (Duodenum = the first part of the small intestine between stomach and the jejunum)


The seeds help clear toxins away from system. They act as a mild digestive stimulant. Harvest seeds after plant flowers in the second year. The stalk when eaten can help mothers stimulate milk flow after birth. The root is an effective diuretic and has been taken for urinary stones/gravel.   The root can also stimulate liver and digestive remedy.

How to use

•  Oil can be used for painful gout in feet and toes. Add 15 drops of oil into warm water, and soak feet.

•  Root made in Tincture for kidney stimulant/cleanser, or urinary disorders.

•  The juice of the whole plant is good for joints and urinary tract inflammations such as cystitis.

Cinnamon (Herb)

Most commonly available as powdered bark, this herb is good for many types of cold and chills.

How to use

•  Decoction is good for chronic diarrhoea and colds.

•  Tincture, dilute up to 5ml in hot water for colds/chills.


Well known as that weed that hooks itself onto your clothing, cleavers or goosegrass is in fact a useful herb. The young shoots of spring make a very good cleansing tonic. All the aerial parts are useful as a diuretic/lymphatic cleanser effective when used for lymph glands. This plant can also be cooked as a vegetable, boil/sweat in a pan much like spinach. Harvest from spring to autumn.

How to use

•  Juice good for a range of lymphatic conditions including glandular fever, tonsillitius and prostrate disorder.

•  Infusion for urinary problems including cystitis.

•  Compress for burns, grazes, ulcers and other skin inflammations.

•  Hair rinse for dandruff or scaling scalp problems.

Red Clover

I used to eat these as a child from the garden after the recommendation from a nanny. The petals taste of sweet nectar. They are mainly used for cleansing, and have been used for whooping cough. In the 1930's they became popular as an anti-cancer remedy and may still be prescribed for breast, ovarian and lymphatic cancer sufferers. Only harvest the flowers.

How to use

•  Fresh, crushed flowers can be applied to aid insect bites and stings.

•  Tincture can be drank for eczema and psoriasis

•  Compress for gout and arthritic pains.

•  Syrup can be taken for stubborn/dry coughs.


Same nanny but different plant, I was force fed this as a delicious vegetable after my nanny cooked it much like spinach. It tastes disgusting as far as I remember however again this makes a useful medicinal herb. The whole plant can be used. The leaves make a good liver and digestive tonic. The white sap from the stem can be used as a topical remedy for warts.

How to use

•  Leaves can be added to a salad as a cleansing remedy.

•  Juice for diuretic action

•  Leaves infused make a good remedy for gout and eczema. Make with freshly dried leaves.

•  Tincture is useful for a failing heart to ensure adequate potassium intake.

Elder (Tree)

Elder flower cordial is one of the most delicious drinks, and makes a fantastic home made sorbet for the summer. The flowers are ideal for colds and influenza. They are also good in aiding hay fever. The berries are ripe in autumn and are rich in vitamins A and C.

How To Use

•  Use the flowers as an infusion for hay fever.

•  Tincture for colds and influenza, use in early spring to reduce hay fever symptons.

•  Berries used in syrup from decoction is good for winter colds, mixed with thyme.


Known to reduce blood cholesterol levels and used widely for infections. Garlic also regulates blood sugar levels.

How to Use

•  Use the cloves as a fresh rub for acne, or mash and use for warts/verrucas. Use regularly in diet to aid against infection. Eat crushed cloves for severe digestive disorders and infections.

•  Juice drink for digestive disorders.

Honey Suckle

Widely used for asthma, urinary complaints and even childbirth. This is a beautiful plant, that I recommend anyone who can,to have growing in their garden. Harvest in summer.

How To Use

•  Use flowers in Infusion mixed with cowslip or mulberry for coughs or mild asthma.

•  Syrup made with the infusion should be taken for coughs.

•  Flower buds make a decoction in early stages of a feverish cold, symptoms include headache, thirst and sore throat. Use 10-15 g to 600ml water.


This is another herb that has so many uses, I would again recommend that everyone should have. It is a beautiful smelling plant brilliant for headaches, nervous exhaustion and to aid in sleep. The essential oil is not expensive and is easily available. Harvest toward the end of flowering.

How to use

•  Infuse the flowers for nervous exhaustion and headaches.

•  Tincture take 5ml twice a day for headaches and depression.

•  Place under pillow to help sleep.

Warning: Avoid high doses of the herb during pregnancy

Lemon Balm (herb)

Easy to grow in the garden. The leaves are good for depression or for anyone worried or anxious. Externally they can be used on sores or painful swellings. Harvest before flowering.

How to use

•  Leaves infused for depression, nervous exhaustion and indigestion.

•  Tincture for the above but is generally stronger

•  Compress to relieve painful swellings.

Mint (herb)

This herb relaxes the muscles and is good for travel sickness. It also promotes sweating in fevers. Harvest before flowering.

How to use

•  Infuse for travel sickness, nausea, migraines and fevers.

•  Compress for inflamed joints and rheumatism.

•  Inhalation to ease nasal blockages.


The berries of this plant are rich in vitamins and minerals. You might be surprised to learn that the leaves help with diarrhoea, wounds, sore throats, and mouth ulcers. Harvest before the berries ripen.

How to use

•  Infusion of leaves take for mild diarrhoea, or as a gargle for mouth ulcers. Also said to help with pregnancy (see p 93 in "Complete Medicinal Herbal" by Penelope Ody for more information)

•  Wash for wounds.


This has   been used through out history for its medicinal properties. As a child I used to make quantities of rose water. Just by soaking the petals of the rose in mineral water and left for a couple of days. This can be used to flavour food or as a mild perfume.

How to Use

•  Syrup made from rosehips, can be used to flavour other medicines or as a source of vitamin C. Harvest in autumn.

•  Tincture made from flowers can be taken for diarrhoea. Take up to 3ml a day.

WARNING - Please only use the Rose Canina and the Rose Gallica. Not garden hybrids.

Wild Strawberry

A delicious fruit which has some surprising properties. Crushed berries make a treatment for sunburn and consumed make a liver tonic. The leaves can be used for diarrhoea, gout and arthritis. Or alternatively steep in wine for a delicious beverage.

How to use

•  Infuse leaves for diarrhoea and as an appetite stimulant. They also aid gastric inflammations.

•  Fruit eat as a liver tonic. Useful in feverish conditions and for gastritis.

•  A poultice of crushed berries for sunburn and other skin inflammations.