Disclaimer: I am a retired military officer and school teacher. I have no formal medical or first aid training. My recommendations are made based on anecdotal personal experience. Nothing I recommend should be undertaken without first consulting with a physician.
When there is no medicine.
Preppers have usually read and probably own copies of well-respected books having to do with post-TEOTWAWKI conditions in which medical and dental care are not available. Most of us have accumulated some knowledge of what medicines to stockpile, their uses, and shelf-lives. After persuading a physician to write prescriptions for the desired medicinals, some have expended precious resources acquiring some useful broad spectrum antibiotics and other controlled substances to treat injuries and illnesses in the absence of doctors and hospitals. All of this is good. To the stockpile of prescription drugs, most would add hand sanitizer, alcohol, betadine, OTC medicines, bandages, sutures and all manner of first aid equipment and supplies. If you have to bug out on foot, it might be a lot to carry.
Bug out with what you can carry.
I can imagine a lot of bug out scenarios where 72 hours becomes a few weeks or a year if your preparedness is sufficient. Water, food, shelter and self-defense; knowledge and abilities; and restoration of society are all important elements of any plan. None of which will come to much if a small cut becomes infected or lack of dental hygiene allows tooth decay. Small things you say. Details. Okay, but there are far more wounded than killed in any battle, and infections kill more soldiers than enemy action. As a people we are probably smart enough to knock out an abscessed tooth, and we may even amputate a gangrenous limb. But there may be a way to avoid these unpleasant and desperate remedies. There is an inexpensive all natural substance that is an antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antifungal liquid which can treat a wide variety of injuries and medical conditions without side effects. It is tea tree oil. It is available all over the internet and in some health food stores for a few bucks. Here are just some of its uses. There are many more.
Cuts, abrasions, burns, bee stings, acne, cold sores, ringworm, warts.
Use it as you would triple antibiotic ointment, which is not antiviral, antifungal or anti-inflammatory. Most pain has its root cause in inflammation. Treat the inflammation and the pain is greatly reduced or eliminated. Bandage the wound, of course. Check the wound and retreat, of course. I stopped using Neosporin when the lanolin-based ointment was replaced by the white petrolatum based product. Petroleum jelly is not as readily absorbed through the skin. Tea tree oil is absorbed almost instantly. Try this: dab a single drop of tea tree oil to the outside of your cheek and see how long it takes before you taste it. It will be instantaneous.
Strains and sprains of the muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons.
Call me crazy, but tea tree oil works as well as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Dab it on with a fingertip, Q-tip or cotton ball. Repeat every few hours. Healing will be quicker than with NSAIDS. Unlike most oral medicines, tea tree oil works on the inflammation at the site of the injury, not in your head. Repeated use of tea tree oil does not damage your liver. After taking some medicines, the pain is still there, you just don’t feel it. Make a patch out of a one inch square piece of cotton cloth and a few inches of medical tape. Dab the cloth with tea tree oil and apply it to the injury site. Change twice a day. You will experience greatly reduced pain and inflammation. I have had good results using a mix of 10 per cent tea tree oil and 90 per cent Bag Balm. Rub it in. You can treat your injury and soften your skin at the same time. This mix is particularly effective when rubbed on your rough heels. I know people who have experienced good results with a mix of 10 per cent tea tree oil and 90 per cent aloe vera gel. It works better than either product used alone.
Head lice, fleas, and ticks.
Add a few drops of tea tree oil to shampoo, or rinse hair with a quart of water mixed with 10 drops of tea tree oil. For safe tick removal, dab the critter with tea tree oil. It will back out. Never tweeze an embedded tick at the abdomen, and don’t try to burn it with a lighter or extinguished match head. It will deposit saliva as well as stomach contents under your skin. Tea tree oil is much gentler on the tick, which many prevent it from vomiting with its head under your skin. You want the tick to back out. You don’t want to kill it while it is still attached. In North America, ticks can be vectors for dozens of diseases.
Blisters. Soak a needle and cotton thread in tea tree oil. Pass the needle and thread through the blister at the widest point and leave six inches of thread passing out both sides of the blister. The blister will drain by wicking the moisture out through the thread. Dab more tea tree oil on the blister twice a day. Pull the thread out when the water is gone and the blistered skin has re-adhered. If a blister has ripped open, swab the whole thing with tea tree oil twice a day. Keep it clean and bandage it.
Tea tree oil is an excellent antifungal and is unbeatable as a treatment for athlete’s foot. Washing feet regularly in a solution of a few drops of tea tree oil in a gallon of warm water will prevent re-infection. Soaking socks and sneakers in the same solution is an excellent preventative.
If you’ve got hemorrhoids, you’ve got an inflammation of some very delicate tissues. Did you bring the Preparation H in your bug out bag? If not, dab on a little tea tree oil until the condition is cured. If bowel movements are painful, dip a finger in tea tree oil. You will know what to do with it. Do it before and after.
Let’s be clear. There is no cure for psoriasis. However, there are many reports of people achieving significant relief of the symptoms of psoriasis by treating the infected area with undiluted tea tree oil. It may take six months of daily treatments.
18 per cent of people who treated their toenail fungus twice daily for six months with tea tree oil were cured. 60 per cent achieved significant improvement of appearance and reduction of symptoms.
First of all, tea tree oil tastes and smells terrible. So naturally, I use it in my mouth. After brushing and flossing or waterpicking, I dip a GUM Bo Between interdental stimulator in tea tree oil and run it between the teeth, rinsing the device in water and redipping every third tooth. The tea tree oil is very rapidly absorbed, so the taste doesn’t last long. Spit, don’t swallow. The rapid absorption also allows swishing with water or mouthwash shortly after the application. Those with bleeding gums will see this condition disappear in a week of daily treatments. After that, twice a week is often enough. Most adult Americans have gingivitis or some periodontal disease. In the absence of regular dental exams and cleaning, the situation will likely get worse. Much worse. Quickly. A dental hygiene kit of toothbrush, floss, GUM, and an ounce of tea tree oil will greatly improve a person’s chances of lasting a year or more without toothache, tooth loss, inflammation or gum disease. If I had to choose between toothpaste and tea tree oil, I would carry the tea tree oil for its many other uses. But I wouldn’t brush my teeth with it.
Products containing tea tree oil.
Soap, laundry detergent, toothpaste, gels, shampoo, surface cleansers and many other products with a wide variety of applications are available with tea tree oil as an active ingredient. Products containing tea tree oil are particularly effective when sanitization or disinfection is desired as well as general cleaning. You can make your own. Recipes are all over the internet. Each of these products has its uses in your everyday life as well as post-TEOTWAWKI.
If you are bugging out, you have many of the same goals and use many of the same techniques as long distance hikers. A hike of 2,600 miles requires a light pack. You can lighten your load if everything you carry has multiple uses. Your jacket is also your pillow. Your trekking poles are your tent poles. Your bandana is your camp towel. Tea tree oil has many uses; some are medicinal, some are merely convenient. Tea tree oil is like WD40. New uses are found every day, but it won’t stop wrinkles. Every bottle of tea tree oil states it is for external use only, and keep it away from children. That means don’t drink it, and don’t let kids have it. I wouldn’t put it in my eyes or ears, although treatments for earache and pinkeye can be found.