Recently in First Aid/Medical Category

Monday, April 23, 2012

First of all, don’t use those words.  Doctors don’t want to be “talked into” something that they may not want to do.  You’ll need a better approach.
Secondly, if you tack your request on to the end of an office visit, it will not be granted.  At this point your doctor is ready to move on to the next patient and will not appreciate the delay.  You don’t want your doctor irritated with you when you ask him a favor.
So how does one meet with success? 
Basically you need to enter the doctor’s “world” and see things from the physician’s perspective.  Every doctor I know faces time constraints.  As a group we feel pressured (and aggravated) when we’re asked to do the work of two or three problems in the time allotted for one. This results in one or all problems being insufficiently addressed.  A request for antibiotics for TEOTWAWKI requires discussion, not simply jotting an Rx for amoxicillin. Next, the doctor-patient relationship is one of trust.  If your doctor has reason to distrust you (missing appointments, being untruthful, misusing your meds) he probably won’t trust you with extra antibiotics either. 
If a patient were coming to me with such a request, I’d prefer the conversation go something like this:
Patient:  “Hi Doc, thanks for seeing me.  I’m here for my (back, sore throat, etc.) and have one other question for you.” (This sets the stage with an appreciative tone and also the expectation of exactly two problems – not more.  Doctors always like to know at the beginning what they’re facing.  Two is the limit most are happy with.)
Patient:  “I’ve had (the first problem) for (time period). It seems to be getting (better/worse).  It might be due to (heavy lifting/infection/etc.) I’ve tried (OTC meds/rest/exercise) which has (helped/not helped).  In the past (what has helped.)  I’d like (pain meds/X-rays/blood work/etc.) or whatever you think might help me.”  (Keep it short.  Be as exact as possible. Don’t drag in extraneous information or what your Aunt Matilda advised.)
Doctor:  (Doctor addresses problem and prescribes solution.)
Patient:  “Thanks, Doc, I’ll do that.  Now my other question is this:  I’m very concerned about where our country is headed.  It doesn’t look like we can trust the economy, and I’m worried that if things go really bad, we’ll all be on our own.  I want to be able to take care of my family and have stocked up on food and other essentials, including a medical kit.  One thing I’d really like to have on hand is a supply of antibiotics, just in case.  I certainly would not use them unless no doctor is available.  Do you think you could help me out?  I do promise not to use them as long as you’re here to help me.  Could you write me a 10-day supply of generic Keflex, Cipro, and a sulfa drug?  From what I read, that would be a good place to start.” (Again, be concise, direct, appreciative, respectful, reassuring, and specific in your request.  You may want to bring along this article to share with your doctor.)
Doctor:  (hesitates)
Patient:  “If you’re worried whether I’d know how to use them, I have (a PDR/Sanford Guide/other reference book) to guide me.”  Shows you’re serious and have looked into the matter.
Depending on the doctor’s reaction – watch his or her face and body language – you may want to downgrade your request at this point to a single antibiotic, or ask the doctor which one they’d recommend to have on hand.  This engages the doctor in the process.  If it’s a no-go, still thank the doctor and try again on a return visit.
You’re even more likely to meet with success if you schedule a visit for this specific purpose only.  Don’t try this with a surgeon, ER doc, or Urgent Care physician.  It needs to be someone who knows you, most likely your family doctor.  If it’s the only request you have, they’re more likely to grant it.  Insurance may or may not pay for such a visit.  You need to consider this ahead of time and explain that you’ll pay cash if needed. 
A 10-day supply of these three antibiotics costs only about $12 at the discount pharmacies, and in fact may serve to cover more than three illnesses.  Although doctors always advise to finish your antibiotics, patients often don’t and most of them are okay.  Five days of antibiotics is often sufficient for sore throats, skin infections, respiratory infections, and urinary tract infections.  (More specific recommendations may be found at my web site.)
I’ve chosen cephalexin (Keflex), ciprofloxacin (Cipro), and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole to recommend because these cover most infections you’re likely to encounter.  Cephalexin is good for strep throat, ear aches, respiratory infections, some community-acquired pneumonia, some urinary infections, and most skin infections.  Ciprofloxacin is effective against urinary infections, some respiratory infections, infectious diarrhea, not to mention anthrax.  Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole usually covers outpatient methicillin-resistant staph infections of the skin and elsewhere, as well as urinary infections and many respiratory infections.  This list is by no means complete, but does include the most common infections. 
If your doctor agrees to your first request, on your next visit request a second set.  Three other antibiotics to consider include erythromycin (good for pneumonia, respiratory infections, pertussis, certain STDs, some skin infections), doxycycline (also good for respiratory infections, tick-borne illness, Chlamydia), and metronidazole (good for C diff, certain STDs, diverticulitis (in combination with ciprofloxacin or a sulfa drug), amoebic and certain helminthic infections).
A few more tips to find your doctor in a receptive mood:
1.      Schedule your appointment early in the day, preferably within the first hour.
2.      Try to avoid your doctor’s busiest day of the week – ask the receptionist for advice.
3.      Avoid holidays – though your doctor may feel more generous around Christmas.
4.      Try scheduling on your own birthday – and bring up this fact if it seems appropriate.
5.      Schedule when disaster is in the news – tsunami, earthquake, pandemic, etc.
Of all the above considerations, most important are 1) the relationship with your doctor and 2) designing your appointment to allow time for the discussion.  If you take your request seriously, so will your doctor.  If you act like it’s a joke, your doctor may merely laugh.   

- Cynthia J. Koelker, MD

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Nature is amazing, I love plants. Not only does just looking at them produce a calming effect, they are beneficial to us in every way. From food, to medicine, glue and rope, plants give us everything we need. These are my top five favorite plants because they are amazing, easy to grow or find and have many uses which are especially valid in TEOTWAWKI. Here are my favorite plants found in the wild, and in the garden, and the reasons why.

1. Garlic
 Garlic is great for two reasons, it is a food and a medicine. All parts are edible except for the skin and woody stalk among the cloves. It is the easiest thing to grow and cheap to do so as one clove produces one head. In the garden, it also is said to repel rabbits and moles.
The health benefits are numerous to using garlic as it is reputed to have antibacterial, antimicrobial, diuretic, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Not only is it flavorful, but beneficial in the prevention and treatment of many common ailments.

There are many miracles in the world to be celebrated and, for me, garlic is the most deserving.”  - Leo Buscaglia

Here are some uses for garlic:
 -insect repellent when ingested in larger amounts or when rubbed on topically, treatment for bee and wasp stings
-high blood pressure treatment/ management
-remedy sore throats, cold hands and feet, earache, tight headaches
-treat fungal skin infections like thrush
-treat and prevent bacterial and viral infections, urinary tract infections, bronchial and lung infections
-treatment for pinworms, roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, warts
-reduce nasal congestion, coughs, respiratory problems
-boost resistance to candida infections
-flu, cold, stye, prevention
-effective against a wide range of pathogenic bacteria, influenza, meningitis
-boost immunity, circulation
-poultice for aches, pains, sprains
-help with poor digestion, help regulate blood sugar
-prevent scurvy, prevent gangrene
-boost testosterone with a high protein diet (suggested in a study with rats)
-enhance thiamine absorption
-garlic juice used as an adhesive when mending glass, porcelain
-natural antibiotic, 1 milligram of allicin is the estimated equivalent of 15 standard units of penicillin
-inhibit clotting

2. Cayenne Pepper
We love our food spicy. Cayenne is the easiest 'go to' to spice it up a little, or a lot. Again I'm a fan of multi purpose and cayenne is not only a staple in the kitchen but a great thing to have in a medical kit, and as personal protection. Cayenne contains capsaicin, vitamin A, B6, C, E, riboflavin, potassium, and manganese.
"If you master only one herb in your life, master cayenne pepper. It is more powerful than any other." - Dr. Schulze
"In 35 years of practice, and working with the people and teaching, I have never on house calls lost one heart attack patient and the reason is, whenever I go in--if they are still breathing--I pour down them a cup of cayenne tea (a teaspoon of cayenne in a cup of hot water, and within minutes they are up and around)." - Dr. Christopher
-aphrodisiac in males
-ant repellent
-topical anti-inflammatory for joint pain, back pain, arthritis, and nerve pain (Do not use on broken skin)
-remedy cold hands and feet
-soothe chilblains with ointment containing cayenne
-prevent gas when used in meals
-stop a heart attack with cayenne tea, 1 tsp cayenne dissolved in 1 cup hot water
-ease dyspepsia symptoms
-rebuild tissue in the stomach and peristalic action in the intestines
-aids elimination and assimilation
-aids the body in creating hydrochloric acid
-boost circulation, increase heart action, arrest shock symptoms
-lower blood pressure
-overcome fatigue, restore stamina, vigor
-stop hemmoraging
-improve itching of psoriasis
-fight pancreatic cancer
-headache relief
-pepper spray main ingredient...cayenne

3. Dandelion
I used to hate seeing all those yellow flowers infiltrating my green lawn, now it almost pains me to mow them down. Dandelions are higher in beta carotene than carrots and higher in iron and calcium than spinach. They contain the vitamins B1, B2, B5, B6, B12, C, E, P, and D, biotin, bitter glycosides, inositol, terpenoids, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc.
"Suppose your doctor tells you, on your next visit, that he has just discovered a miracle drug which, when eaten as a part of your daily diet or taken as a beverage, could, depending on the peculiarities of your body chemistry: prevent or cure liver diseases, such as hepatitis or jaundice; act as a tonic and gentle diuretic to purify your blood, cleanse your system, dissolve kidney stones, and otherwise improve gastro-intestinal health; assist in weight reduction; cleanse your skin and eliminate acne; improve your bowel function, working equally well to relieve both constipation and diarrhea; prevent or lower high blood pressure; prevent or cure anemia; lower your serum cholesterol by as much as half; eliminate or drastically reduce acid indigestion and gas buildup by cutting the heaviness of fatty foods; prevent or cure various forms of cancer; prevent or control diabetes mellitus; and, at the same time, have no negative side effects and selectively act on only what ails you. If he gave you a prescription for this miracle medicine, would you use it religiously at first to solve whatever the problem is and then consistently for preventative body maintenance?"-Peter Gail
-plentiful emergency food
-used to make dandelion wine
-coffee substitute, gotta love that
-strengthen the entire body, especially the liver and gallbladder
-promote the flow of bile, reduces inflammation in the bile duct, helps eliminate gallstones
-reduces liver swelling, and jaundice
-help indigestion caused by insufficient bile
-gentle diuretic
-good for pancreas, bladder, spleen, stomach and intestines
-helps with mature onset diabetes, hypoglycemia
-encourages production of hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes
-milky sap removes warts, pimples, moles, callouses, sores
-sap soothes bee stings
-help with hypertension
-aids in night vision
-detoxification agent
-therapeutic benefits in the treatment of persistent constipation, acne, eczema, psoriasis
-aids in the treatment of gout, arthritic conditions and osteoarthritis
-recommended for weight loss
-prevent or cure anemia
-appetite stimulant
-use the white juice in the flower stems as glue.

4. Cattail
 Cattails are beautiful, and one of the most useful plants I have have ever encountered. It contains beta carotene, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, potassium, phosphorous, vitamin C, protein, unsaturated fats and calories. From food, to rafts to insect repellent, this plant seems to do it all.
" Although now relatively unused in the United States, where four species thrive, cattails are deliciously edible both raw and cooked from their starchy roots to their cornlike spikes, making them prime emergency foods." from 'Survival Wisdom and Know-How Everything You Need to Know to Subsist in the Wilderness'.
-soothes wounds, sores, boils, inflammations, burns and carbuncles
-excellent food source
-weaving material for mats, backs of chairs,
-great stuffing for pillows, great insulation
-used internally to quell diarrhea, kill and expel worms, also used for gonorrhea
-fluff used as tinder
-stalks are great for use as an emergency raft  
-pounded, soaked leaves make good improvised cordage
-used in construction of thatch roofing
-burn as insect repellent
-use brown head of stalk dipped in animal fat as a torch
-pollen is hemostatic and astringent, used to control bleeding
-sticky substance at the base of the green leaf is antiseptic

5. Nettles
Nettles have a bad name due to their special stinging defenses, I find that handy in terms of defense. No one in their right mind would tramp through a nettle patch just to see what's on the other side. Nettles contain very high levels of minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, silica, iodine, silicon, sodium, and sulphur. They also contain chlorophyll, tannen, vitamin C, beta carotene, B complex vitamins, and are high in protein. Yes, they can sting, but the sting is easily remedied with jewelweed, plantain, or dock.
"Sitting here writing this book, I frequently sip on warm nettle tea. It's one of my favorites. It does not taste like a normal tea- not bitter, spicy, minty, or lemony. It's more like a strong stock of a rich, deep, green plant essence, and it's one of the most nourishing drinks of all."- Steve Brill with Evelyn Dean in 'Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places'.
-food and tea (always cook nettles)
-ward off iron deficiency anemia
-effective in treating allergies and hay fever
-expectorant, recommended for asthma, mucus of the lungs, and chronic coughs
-tincture used for flu, colds, bronchitis, and pneumonia
-infusion is a safe diuretic
-recommended for weight loss
-tea compress good for wounds, cuts, stings, and burns
-used internally to stop excessive menstruation, bleeding from hemmorages, bloody coughs, nosebleeds, and bloody urine
-helps blood clot
-helps treat gout, glandular diseases, poor circulation, diarrhea, dysentery, worms and hemorrhoids
-makes your hair brighter, thicker, shinier
-makes your skin clearer and healthier
-good for eczema and other skin conditions
-cleansing and antiseptic properties
-stems used for weaving, cordage, cloth and paper making

NOTICE: Please be cautious when attempting to prevent, treat or cure any health issues. Be sure to talk to your Doctor before considering any type of health related changes. Also it is important to note that although these suggested uses are easily found in books and on the internet, some may not work for you. Each body is different and some react in adverse ways. Always be sure you know what you are doing before trying any of these ideas. Some of these plants may have 'look a likes' that at best, won't do what you expect, at worst, will kill you.

The Doctors Book Of Home Remedies II
Reader's Digest Curing Everyday Ailments the Natural Way
Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places
Survival Wisdom and Know-How

Mr. JWR:
I am 57, been collecting prepping supplies for the last 5+ years, but was involved in an accident in 2008 where I was disabled. I'm ambulatory, but limited in lifting and such (three inoperable herniated discs in lower back) - I am planning moving to the Redoubt, but fear that my limited abilities will make me less than attractive or welcome to any community or preppers I may encounter. I do have manual skills in building both small items up to buildings, but cannot actually do the work. Is it worth it for me to move there? I don't want to be perceived as a burden. I am a Christian, and have been praying on this, and the idea of trying to write you a note directly came to me, so here it is.

Thanks for reading, if you were able to. God bless you, and America. - Peter in Michigan

JWR Replies: Since you are a Christian with a strong work ethic, I can assure you that you would be much more welcomed than someone that is capable of doing heavy work, but unwilling to do any work, which sadly these days seems to me the norm. 

Also rest assured that there are a lots of jobs within retreat groups that can be handled by someone with physical limitations. These include retreat security (eyes and ears at an LP/OP), communications/SIGINT gathering, et cetera.

Go ahead and make the move, and trust in God.  But just be very prayerful and discerning about who you associate with, and the climate/topsoil quality/water availability of where you move.  There are lots of details on those factors at my free Retreat Areas page.

And even greater detail can be found in my "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation" book. That book is now included as a bonus e-book to my blog's complete five-year archive CD-ROM. (Available for less than $10, via digital download.) May God Bless You and Yours!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Open your kitchen cupboard and what do you see?  Salt, pepper, ginger, dill, alum, meat tenderizer, honey, molasses, baking soda; and the list can go on.  Viewed as flavor enhancers and condiments these are tasty additions to any meal.  But there is a hidden world of medicinal benefit in many of those little tins and shaker-topped jars.

When you reach for the alum to eliminate a canker sore, or swallow a teaspoonful of honey to soothe a sore throat, or make a moist plaster of meat tenderizer to take the sting out of a bee-bite, you are practicing “Kitchen Cupboard Medicine”. Kitchen Cupboard Medicine has been practiced for hundreds of years. In his ancient, surviving text, De Medicina, Aulus Cornelius Celsus’s (ca 25 BC—ca 50) references a pain relieving pill containing pepper; but only recently, with the assistance of studies and evidence-based medicine, have the benefits been proven and better understood.
As sensible and simple as treating your self or others with the every-day supplies from your kitchen cupboard may seem, it is important to know when to go to your health care provider.  High fevers, sudden and/or severe pain, broken bones and profuse bleeding may need the attention of a professional.  In these cases your kitchen cupboard may have what you need for that stop-gap-measure to ease the problem while you get to the doctor or hospital – but remember – reaching into your cupboard to treat an ailment or accident should be to obtain help, not practice heroics.
You do not need to feel intimidated by the number of herbs or spices that are listed here.  The cost of a small jar of herbs or spices can seem intimidating, but you are not bound strictly to the baking aisle to acquire these little gems of culinary interest and healing.  I have become very fond of the bulk aisle at our local WinCo grocery store.  There I found small shaker-topped bottles for $1.25 and nearly every spice or herb listed in this article for well under the per-ounce price of the pre-packaged ones in the fancier containers displayed in another part of the store.  Thrift stores are another fun place to scrounge around in to enhance your stash of containers.

Many of the remedies call for the herb or spice to be made into a tea for consumption, as a poultice or to be used as a wash.  Again, you can buy the spice or herbs in bulk for this or buy the ready-made tea bags.  These are especially handy to have on hand and can make the remedy- making process a whole lot easier.  Watch for sales and coupons.  There are several medicinal herbal tea companies worth mentioning:  Celestial Seasonings, Yogi, and Traditional Medicines.  I have used many of their teas with outstanding success and confidently store many of their varieties.
As extensive as this list may seem; it is not a complete inventory of all the possible remedies you might find in your home.  I chose these remedies by one of four criteria.  Either, I have used it, I know someone who has, it was recommended by one of my trusted teachers, or I was able to document it’s effectiveness by researching evidence-based studies.  Some of these will work very well for you; while others maybe not so much.  Whether you choose an herb or spice from your cupboard, a veggie from your refrigerator or a piece of fruit from the bowl on your counter top, if you use your common sense and trust your intuition you will be guided to the remedies that are best for you and your family. 


  • Garlic: The juice has antibacterial properties. Place 2-3 drops into the affected ear and pack with cotton ball. DO NOT put ANYTHING into the ear if there is concern about a ruptured ear drum.


  • Cabbage or Lettuce Leaves Wrap: Soak the outer leaves of the cabbage or lettuce leaves in warm water, then crush lightly.  Wrap and gently tie 3-4 layers of the leaves over the sprain in contact with the skin. Leave overnight.
  • Vinegar: Make a compress and soak it in vinegar to reduce the swelling and discomfort.


  • CAUTION!  All burns are a potentially serious injury.  Know the types: first, second, third and, fourth degree; thermal, chemical or electrical. Treat only uninfected first degree burns at home.  Even large area first degree burn may need medical attention. Pay close attention to even small second degree burns (with blistering).  All third and fourth degree burns need medical attention. Watch for infection.
  • COOL the burn first.
  • Honey: Has antibacterial properties and will promote healing. Cool then apply the honey and cover the area with dry dressing.


  • Alum: The preservative, alum, can be put on the canker. It will sting and cause you to pucker-up! – Rinse with water after a few minutes. You should notice significant pain relief and it does help clear the sore up more quickly than if left untreated. Repeat once or twice a day, as needed. Alum is found on the baking aisle with spices.
  • Baking soda: It can either be used as a powder directly on the sore or made into a paste and applied several times a day.
  • Tea: Press it on the sore and hold it there for up to 10 minutes. The tannic acid in the tea is an astringent that relieves pain and encourages healing.
  • Water & Salt: Mix 2 tablespoons of salt into a 6 ounce glass of warm water and use as a mouth rinse 3-4 times a day.


  • Ginger: Drink ginger tea to help break up a cold.
  • Lemon:  Lemon helps by alkalinizing the body. Squeeze a lemon in a glass of water or tea, and drink every couple of hours.
  • Put your toothbrush in a glass of hydrogen peroxide. This will keep you from re-infecting yourself.

COLD SORES (Herpes):

  • Gelatin free yogurt: One of the best strategies for limiting the length of stay for your cold sore is to reduce the amount of arginine (an amino acid) in your body.  Lysine can do this for you; and yogurt is high in lysine.  But be aware that the gelatin in most yogurts is arginine-rich so make sure you read the label carefully. Try a natural food store if your grocery store doesn’t have it.
  • Sage & Ginger Tea: Make a tea by adding two or three fresh sage or thyme leaves or ½ to 1 teaspoon of the dried leaves to a cup of boiling water; steep; add one teaspoon of powdered ginger. Drink two to three cups a day until the sores clear up.
  • Common Tea: Steep an ordinary tea bag in boiling water for a few minutes; cool; then apply to lesions. The tannin in the tea has proven anti-viral properties.


  • CAUTION!  Conjunctivitis is very contagious. 
    • Beware of cross contamination to the unaffected eye or contamination of the eyewash
    • Never double-dip your cloth or cotton ball back into your eyewash container. 
    • Wash your hand often.
    • If the conjunctivitis comes at the same time as a cold sore, check with your doctor to make sure the herpes virus has not infected your eye. This is very important.
    • Discard your makeup, it is probably contaminated.
  • Chamomile Tea:  Makes soothing eyewash.
  • Fennel Tea: Boil fennel seeds in water for 10 minutes, strain, cool and use as an eyewash.
  • Honey: Dissolve three tablespoons in 2 cups of boiling water, let it cool, then use as an eyewash several times a day. The honey has antibacterial properties and unpasteurized honey has antibiotic properties.
  • Common Tea (Camellia sinensis): Tea contains bioflavonoids that fight viral and bacterial infections and tannic acid to help soothe the itching and help reduce inflammation. Repeat several times a day. Use cool water to moisten the tea bag if there is swelling.
    • Black tea: Has more tannin; and that may help reduce the inflammation.
    • A weak solution of tea may be used as an eyewash.

CONSTIPATION (occasional):

  • Apples: Apples have a laxative effect because they contain pectin which adds bulk to the stools and their cleansing action encourages bowel movements.
  • Bananas: Bananas are high in fiber and may help restore normal bowel function.
  • Honey: Honey has mildly laxative properties. Start by taking a tablespoon three times a day or add to foods or drinks.
  • Molasses: (Black Strap is most nutritional): Add 1 to 2 tablespoons a day to hot cereal or mix with warm water or milk.

COUGH (with Congestion):

  • Avoid: Mucus producing foods – these include dairy products, orange juice and fried foods.
  • Cayenne pepper: Mix ¼  to  ½ teaspoon of pepper in a glass of water and use as a gargle.
  • Honey: Mix honey with juice of a fresh lemon and take as needed. Honey soothes the tickle and it also has antibacterial properties.
    • A study funded by the US National Honey Board reports that:   “… comparison between honey and dextromethorphan did not yield statistically significant differences.”
  • Garlic: Mince several cloves of garlic and place in a small bowl; cover with honey; let set overnight. Take one tablespoonful upon awakening, then throughout the day, as needed.
  • Onion juice Syrup: Make syrup by placing a sliced, raw onion on a plate then covering it with honey. Let stand for 3-4 hours. Take the syrup in divided doses.
  • Thyme: Thyme contains a volatile oil, thymol, which has antiseptic and antibacterial properties, relaxes the lungs and promotes expectoration of mucus.  Make a tea using 2 tablespoons of fresh or 1 tablespoon of dried thyme in a cup of boiling water; steep, covered, for 3-5 minutes; strain and drink hot.

COUGH (Dry):

  • Honey & ACV: Combine 1/2 cup honey with 3-4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (ACV). Take one tablespoon before going to bed or during a coughing fit, and throughout the day, as needed. Stir well before use.
  • Garlic: Mince several cloves of garlic and place in a small bowl; cover with honey; let set overnight. Take one tablespoonful upon awakening, then throughout the day, as needed.


  • Cayenne pepper (an important first aid remedy to know):
    • For internal bleeding: Take one tablespoon of cayenne in a cup of water to stop the bleeding.  Taken in capsule form works also. (Recommended)
    • For external bleeding:Cayenne can also be placed directly on an external cut to stop bleeding. You may completely pack the wound if you have enough pepper.
      • Black pepper: May be used instead if cayenne is not available.
  • Black or Green Tea: Apply a moistened tea bag to help stop bleeding.
  • Honey:  see Burns


  • CAUTION!  University of Maryland Medical Center warns: “Do not use herbs to treat diarrhea without talking to your health care provider first, and always talk to your doctor before treating diarrhea in an infant. If your diarrhea is caused by certain types of infections, herbal treatments could make it worse.”
  • Allspice: A West Indies remedy calls for a pinch of allspice in a cup of warm water or milk.
  • Cardamom: To make an infusion: take about ¼ teaspoon of crushed cardamom seeds and boil them in one cup of water for about 10 minutes. Strain and add honey or a pinch of sugar to taste.
  • Carob flour/powder: Carob flour is rich in pectin, a binding substance, and tannins with anti-viral properties. It is beneficial for treating babies' diarrhea (see caution note) and may be taken at the rate of 1.5 g (approximately 1/3rd teaspoon) per 1 kg (2.2 pounds) of body weight. Dissolve powder into a hydrating solution such as Pedialyte (or see recipe pg. 8 of this article).
  • Ginger: Add one teaspoonful of powdered ginger root to one cup of boiling water. Drink up to three cups a day. This works wonders for cramps or abdominal pain.
  • Rice or barley water, fresh vegetable juices (especially carrot and celery), miso broth, or other clear broths help restore fluid and electrolyte balance.
    • Make rice and barley water using 1 cup of raw grain to 1 quart of boiling water. Let steep for 20 minutes. Strain and drink throughout the day.


  • Burned Toast & Black Tea: Georgianna Donadio, PhD, director of the National Institute of Whole Health recommends a cup black tea and a few pieces of burned toast:  "The tannic acid in tea and the charcoal in the toast will neutralize the toxins and help you get much better very quickly."


  • Tepid bath: Make sure it is not too cool or chilling will occur.
  • Wet socks: Soak a pair of cotton socks with water, place on the feet and covering them with wool ones.  This helps cool the whole system.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar Wrap:  Combine 1 part ACV with 3 parts water.  Soak cloths and wrap around calves and wrists.  Remove once fever is reduces (just a few minutes).  Re-wrap as necessary.

GAS (intestinal):

  • Fennel: The seeds help improve digestion and aid in expelling trapped gas in the digestive tract. Make a tea by pouring one cup of boiling water over 1-2 teaspoons of the dried herb; cover; steep for fifteen minutes; strain. This remedy is excellent for colicky babies. Offer ¼ cup of tea diluted with ¼ cup of water in a bottle before each feeding.


  • Hot Water Foot Soak: Soak your feet in a pan of very warm water. This increases the blood flow to the lower extremities and pulls excess blood flow away from the head, which may be causing your headache. Dry mustard, powdered ginger or cayenne may be added to the water to increase the benefit of the warm water.


  • Banana: Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body.


  • Alum: Make a solution of one teaspoon of powdered Alum in a glass of water. Apply frequently.
  • Apple cider vinegar: The astringent qualities will help shrink swollen blood vessels. Soak a cotton ball in vinegar and dab on the affected areas as often as needed.
  • Cayenne pepper: Take 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cayenne in a glass of water to stop bleeding hemorrhoids. A note on this remedy:  In my humble opinion, the taste of this drink is very strong. The amount of cayenne is best scooped into capsules and taken with warm water to help the capsules dissolve promptly; but it does work quickly.


  • CAUTION!  Watch for allergic reaction to bites and stings. 
    • At the first sign of spreading swelling or system allergic reaction get the victim to your nearest emergency department. 
    • This is considered a true, life-threatening emergency.
  • Baking soda: Mix equal parts of baking soda and vinegar into a paste and apply to the sting. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes.
  • Banana peel: Bananas have documented anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Rub the affected area with the inside of a banana skin.
  • Meat tenderizer:  Make a paste of meat tenderizer and water and pat onto the bite area. The tenderizer contains the enzyme papain from the papaya fruit; which helps break down the proteins in the venom.


  • Honey/lemon: A mixture of honey and lemon makes a good gargle and soothes the throat.
  • Onion syrup: To make the onion syrup: slice three large onions and put them in four or five cups of water; simmer until syrupy; strain. Put five or six tablespoonfuls of the syrup into a glass of warm water, along with a tablespoon of honey and a dash of lemon. Sip slowly.
  • Sea salt: Make a gargle of sea salt and water and use several times a day.
  • Any hot tea:  will stimulate the throat and may help relax the vocal cords.


  • Peppermint or Chamomile Tea: Both of these herbs are soothing to the upset tummy.
  • Rice-water: After boiling 1/2 cup of rice in 1 cup of water for 10-20 minutes, consume the rice water after straining the rice from it.


  • Alum:  Is also known as aluminum sulfate. It works by constricting blood vessels to stop the blood flow.  This is the same substance found in styptic pencils.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Soak a small cotton ball in vinegar and pack it lightly into the nostril. The astringent vinegar may help the blood to clot.
  • Cayenne: Put 1/8-1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a glass of warm (hot preferred) water and drink it. This works because the cayenne travels through the entire circulatory system and regulates the pressure thereby taking pressure off the hemorrhaging area and aiding quick coagulation. Cayenne pepper is noted for its ability to stop both internal and external bleeding.

OTITIS MEDIA: (middle ear infection):



  • Apple Cider Vinegar: To relieve itching, combine equal parts of water or alcohol and apple cider vinegar. Dab on affected areas, let dry, and repeat as often as needed.
  • Baking Soda: (bicarbonate of soda) Dissolve one tablespoon of baking soda into a cup of water. Use this as a wash or make it into a poultice. Cover open blisters with sterile gauze. Baking soda paste is another common remedy that acts as a drying agent.
  • Black Tea:  Steep a black tea bag and use the liquid as a wash
  • Cornstarch: Dusting the affected area with cornstarch making a cornstarch-paste may help the itch.
  • Epsom Salts: Soak the affected area in a solution of Epsom salts and warm water for 30 minutes daily.
  • Salt water: Bathe the area with a warm solution of salt water.


  • Honey/apple cider vinegar: Mix ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar and ¼ cup of honey. Take one tablespoon every four hours or as needed for pain relief.
  • Lemon: Add the juice of one lemon and one teaspoon of salt to one cup of warm water. Gargle three times a day for one minute.
  • Thyme or Sage: Make a tea with five lightly crushed fresh or dried leaves; place in a cup and fill with boiled water; cover (to retain the aromatic oils) and leave to infuse for five minutes; remove leaves and drink. Thyme’s antiseptic properties make it an excellent choice as a gargle.
  • Water/salt: Mix a teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of quite warm water.


  • Cabbage or Lettuce Leaves Wrap: Soak the outer leaves of the cabbage or lettuce leaves in warm water, then crush lightly.  Wrap and gently tie 3-4 layers of the leaves over the sprain in contact with the skin. Leave overnight. 
  • Epsom Salts Soak: Soak the affected area in a solution of Epsom salts and water for 30 minutes daily.
  • Cayenne Liniment: 1 tablespoon powdered Cayenne,1 pint apple cider vinegar
    Preparation: simmer for 10 minutes in closed container, bottle while hot and unstrained.  Rub gently on the sprain.  Do not cover and do not rub vigorously or skin may be burned. Wash your hand well after application.


  • CAUTION! If you experience chills, fever, or get blisters or a rash you may have sun poisoning. See your physician.
  • Aspirin: According to the New England Journal of Medicine: two regular aspirin, taken every four hours around the clock kills the pain and reduces inflammation and redness of the sunburn. DO NOT use if aspirin sensitive.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Apply a wash of half and half ACV and water to the burn with a spray bottle, or make a cooling compress for a large area to relieve the pain. Keep the skin moistened.  
  • Mint Tea: Make some tea, cool, and apply to the burn. While any tea may be beneficial, mint tea, such as peppermint or spearmint are especially helpful because of their cooling, antiseptic and slightly anesthetic properties.


  • CAUTION! Consult with your doctor before using these remedies if you have ever punctured your eardrum or had ear surgery (including having tubes inserted). 
  • Apple cider vinegar: Combine equal parts alcohol and vinegar.  Put three to four drops in the ear to ward of bacterial and fungal infections.


  • CAUTION!According to the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, call a dentist immediately when the pain is very severe, your face is swollen or you have a fever over 100'F (37.8'C).
  • Cloves: Place a whole clove between the aching tooth and your cheek. It can be held in place by holding your finger on the outside of the cheek. Chew the cloves a little to release their juice, then leave them in place for half an hour or so or until the pain subsides.
  • Ginger Root: Chew a piece of fresh ginger; then pack the pulp on and around the painful tooth.


  • Ginger/honey Tea: Make a tea by mixing 1 teaspoon fresh ginger juice or freshly grated ginger and 1 teaspoon honey in a cup of boiling water; drink as needed.
  • Chamomile Tea: A University of Michigan Health System pamphlet recommends chamomile tea for its carminative properties; which helps relieve gas.
  • Saltine Crackers


Oral Rehydration Solution for Children
               From: Rehydration Project at

1 Liter water (5 cups)
6 level tsp. sugar
½ level tsp. salt

     Be very careful to mix the correct amounts. Too much sugar can make the diarrhea worse. Too much salt can be extremely harmful to the child. Making the mixture a little too diluted (with more than 1 liter of clean water) is not harmful.

Salty-Sage Gargle s(this one is my favorite)

2 tsp dried sage or 2 Tbsp. of fresh sage
1 tsp sea/rock salt
1/2 pint of boiling water

Infuse for 10 minutes then strain and use the mixture for gargling - do not swallow.


From: Tankard Recipes and Drinking Customs, compiled by Donlyn Meyers, 1993

Switchel is an old-time remedy for thirst during the hot summer days of haying.  It is a useful natural electrolyte-balancing drink when made with molasses - which contains magnesium and potassium; and has the added benefit of vitamins and other minerals. When made with honey it may replenish energy, enhance physical stamina, improve the immune systems, and aid in digestion.
8 cups water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

“Heat together water, sugar, vinegar, molasses, and ginger until the sugar dissolves. Cool and serve in glasses. This drink was a sort of German Gatorade, for work in the fields giving sweating men sugar, electrolytes [sic] and minerals quickly.”

Barley Water
Barley water is a soothing, nutrient-dense drink.  It has been used to help those that are recovering from long-term illness and children that fail-to-thrive; it has helped some with kidney problems, urinary tract infections and gastric distress.  It is a comforting drink when cough and sore throat are troublesome.

Old Fashioned Lemon (Citrus) Barley Water

    • 1/2 cup pearl barley  
    • water
    • 10 cups water, extra
    • 1 lemons, rind of, grated
    • 1 cup lemon juice ( or other juice of choice)
    • 1 cup sugar
  1. Rinse the barley well.
  2. Cover barley in a pot with cold water and bring to the boil, drain.
  3. Return barley to saucepan with the lemon rind & 10 cups water, cook slowly for 1 hour.
  4. Add the lemon juice & sugar and stir until sugar has dissolved.
  5. Strain and chill to serve.
  6. Discarded barley can be mixed with some dried fruit and nuts and warm milk and makes a great breakfast.

Be watchful. Be wise. Be well.


This information is for education only and is not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, prevent or prescribe for any disease or medical condition.

All information in this presentation is for reference purpose only and not intended to substitute advice given by a pharmacist, physician or other licensed health care professional.

Do not use this information for treating a disease or to make a self-diagnosis. Should any of the symptoms or signs noted and described in this presentation be present, seek the advice of your primary care physician for testing and diagnosis. A serious medical condition could occur if left unattended.

Celsus, Aulus Cornelius. (1478). De Medicina. Retrieved from:
Hobbs, Christopher, L.Ac. (1998). Herbal Remedies for Dummies. California. IDG Books Worldwide, Inc. pp 167-189
Leonard, David Bruce, L.Ac. Medicine at Your Feet. ( 2012). Kitchen Alchemy. Retrieved from:
Pollard, Ted (founder). Health911 Media, Inc. (2010). Health Conditions. Retrieved from:
The Guardian Society 04/12/2007 Randerson, James (4 December 2007). "Honey 'beats cough medicine'". The Guardian (London).

Wellspring School for Asian Bodywork. (2003) Lecture Notes: Herbal First Aid. Rylen Feeney, Instructor.  Boise, ID

Bananas:African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 8 (7), pp. 1176-1182, 6 April, 2009
Available online at
ISSN 1684–5315 © 2009 Academic Journals
Barley Water recipe:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I first began prepping about two years ago so I am fairly new to this.  In those two years I have been fairly aggressive with my education and training on the topic with much of my real world education coming from reading blogs.  I have found an area where there is a great deal of misinformation and limited preparedness so it has prompted me to address this topic since it is the one area where I possess a skill set that I can share.  The topic is healthcare after the SHTF.  I think it is difficult for any of us, especially in America, to understand how so many aspects of our health we may be taking for granted.  I can honestly say that I was in the same boat which is a sad statement considering the fact that I am a physician.

To give a little background as a lead in; I worked as a general and vascular surgeon for about 10 years after I finished residency.  A little over two years ago I walked away from that to focus on nutrition, fitness, and wellness counseling.  There were many reasons for this change, lifestyle being a big one but more importantly I came to understand that we were no longer practicing medicine but rather pharmacology and surgery.  I found that training people to modify lifestyle was the best defense and prevention strategy and this certainly applies to prepping.

I will be focusing on four topics:

  • Optimizing your health
    • Nutrition
    • Fitness
  • Healthcare skill sets
  • Water and hygiene
  • Healthcare supplies

Optimizing your Health

Health should be viewed as a spectrum with chronic disease at one end, disease-free in the middle, and optimized health at the other end.  Think about where you would want to be and whom you would want in your survival group should the SHTF.

In reading through the various prepper and survival blogs, I see so many people that are unhealthy and they do not hesitate to talk about it.  I would be worried if I were in this situation or if I had to rely on this person as an essential link in my support group.  Stocking up on medications may help but what happens when they run out or expire?   Will you live to take advantage of all your amazing preparations or will they be taken from you?  The solution is to get out of the chronic disease end of the spectrum and get as close to optimal health as possible.  I treat and resolve chronic disease every day by basically changing one thing: lifestyle.  This means nutrition and fitness.  You just have to understand that chronic diseases such as Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and most high cholesterol are actually just symptoms of a poor lifestyle, you fix that, and you fix the problem without medication.

Nutrition is the key to good health; the problem is there is way too much misinformation out there as to what constitutes good nutrition.  What I am about to say will make most prepper gasp, but let me explain.  Get rid of all grains from the diet!  Now, that said, I do store grains but I do not currently eat them, they are reserved as emergency foods only.  You may now be asking, “where does this insanity come from?”  Well the answer is biochemistry and anthropology.  We are and always have been physiologically hunter/gatherers and grains were not a part of our natural diet.  Our bodies function best and experience the most positive effects from a hunter/gatherer style diet.  I am not asking you to immediately take my word for it just because I have a few initials at the end of my name, but I do ask that you try this challenge – give up all grain, bread, pasta, rice, crackers, chips, pretzels, popcorn, sweets, etc., for one month and see how you feel.  You will eat only meats, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and nuts during this time and eat all you want.  You will experience amazing results.  Since I do have limited space here to go into all the details, I have provided a link to a video on Vimeo to help explain my approach to this diet: Functional Nutrition.

Other good sources of information are the books The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet by Robb Wolf and The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson.  Sisson also has a great web site at  Good nutrition is 80% of a healthy lifestyle, it is the base of the pyramid of health and without it you cannot develop optimal health.  I am not promoting some agenda here or trying to sell some magic snake oil, all I can tell you is that I have been utilizing this diet in my clinical practice for years and the health transformations and the disease resolutions I have witnessed are amazing.

Another aspect of optimal health is fitness.  It is a necessity in survival and should be an integral part of any preparation regimen.  Everyone seems to prep for food, medical and self defense but another aspect of preparation is your body.  I would like to see the 3 Bs change to the 4 Bs: Beans, Bullets, Band-Aids, and Body.  Your level of fitness will be directly proportional to your chances of survival so you need to train the right way.  Bottom line – lift heavy stuff and run fast.  What I recommend is functional fitness and you do not need a gym for this.  Functional fitness means training the body to be able to do the necessary things in life well and remember, life will be substantially different if society fails.  If you have weights available, then lift heavy – squats, cleans, military press, rows.  Add push-ups and pull-ups.  Chop and carry wood, dig ditches, and run sprints. The book The Primal Blueprint that I mentioned has some good functional training advice and workouts.

Healthcare Skillsets

The practice of medical care could change dramatically in this scenario.  Physicians and nurses currently practice with the aid of technology, sterile environments, a slew of available instruments and specialist referrals.  EMTs and paramedics are trained in stabilization and transport.  Despite my surgical training and experience, my experience in a level 4 trauma center and having been an Advanced Trauma Life Support instructor, I would have little skills to care for people in a post-apocalyptic scenario.  That was until I began studying wilderness medicine.  Wilderness medicine training is available for health care providers (EMTs, paramedics, nurses, and physicians) and what makes this different is that you have to diagnose and more importantly TREAT in the field without the benefit of technology and transport.  In TEOTWAWKI scenario things like minor wounds, burns, blisters, and fractures become potentially life-threatening emergencies. I never realized all this until I took a Wilderness First Responder course offered by NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) and I feel that this is an absolute necessity for someone in your group.  We should all know how to properly clean and care for wounds, close lacerations, treat a burn, splint and reduce fractures and dislocations in situations where we do not have the luxury of modern technology.  Now this course will not make you the Dr. House of the TEOTWAWKI but it will give you the basis to build from and a level of comfort in dealing with many of the issues you may encounter.  You should still have access to someone with advanced medical training.

Water and Hygiene

Wilderness medicine gets you thinking about things we take for granted like water or hygiene.  In the wilderness, clean water is your best friend.  Even sparkling clear mountain spring water can be full of protozoa and bacteria so boiling or filtration is essential.  What kills more people worldwide?  Infectious diarrhea.  This is also one of the number one debilitations in the wilderness along with food poisoning related to poor food prep hygiene.  It is also important to remember that filtration will not get rid of viruses, so in the face of a viral outbreak if the water supply gets contaminated, you will need a chemical disinfectant as well.  Iodine and/or chlorine will work well for this added safety.  We need to look at the health care issues faced in the third world countries in order to fully understand what we need to prepare for should the worst case scenario occur.

Healthcare Supplies

First thing to remember here is that it will do you no good to stock up on supplies that you have no skill or knowledge to use.  When I design and stock kits for people, I always find out what abilities they possess first.  You also have to determine what size group you want to prepare for and the environment where the kit will be needed.  I typically see a need for three types of kits and a stock of supplies on top.

Kit #1: Basic field kit.  This kit needs to be compact and lightweight but still be supplied to cover you for a 1-5 day trip away from your Bugout Location (BOL) for 3-4 people.  This should cover everything for stabilizing illness or injury long enough to get you back to your BOL.  This is the kit that I keep in my Bugout Bag (BoB) and I take hiking or camping.
Basic contents:

  • Sterile and non-sterile gloves
  • Facemasks with eye protecting, also antiviral mask
  • Thermometer
  • Ace bandage and scissors
  • Various quantities of different size sterile gauze and gauze rolls
  • Field surgical kit and sutures
  • Variety of medical and athletic tape
  • Moleskin for blisters and second skin for burns
  • Opsite or other occlusive dressing
  • Steristrips and benzoin for wound closure
  • Small vial of povidone iodine or betadine
  • Bacitracin and Cortisone
  • Thermal reflective blanket
  • SAM splint
  • Eye pad
  • Large irrigation syringe
  • Several cravats
  • Quikclot or Celox trauma bandage
  • Pen light
  • Emergency resuscitator pocket facemask
  • Ibuprofen, aspirin, Benadryl, and various antibiotics

Kit #2: Advanced Home Kit. This is an advanced medical kit for the home or BOL.  It contains all the above items from Kit #1 just larger quantities, plus:

  • Stethoscope and BP cuff
  • Fiberglass casting wrap
  • Greater variety of surgical items
  • Lidocaine, needles, and syringes
  • Battery operated cautery device
  • Skin stapler
  • Greater variety of antibiotics and other prescription meds
  • Emergency cricothyrotomy kit

Kit #3: Advanced Trauma Kit.  Now this kit would be mainly for people with advanced medical training or military field medics.  I keep this is a STOMP bag and it weighs about 40 pounds.  It is basically a portable trauma bay with advanced surgical instrumentation, major wound treatments, airway control, etc.

My recommendation is to train each person in your group in the basic medical skills and have each carry a basic kit.  Many prep groups run drills for defense and bug-out but few run through medical scenarios and these are the most likely issues that they would encounter.  Each group or family should have someone in charge of medical and it should be their responsibility to train the others.

So our best course of action is prepare and prevent.  Prepare by optimizing each individuals health, have the training necessary for your environment, and have the appropriate tools and knowledge in order to act.  Prevent by obtaining/maintaining optimal health, recognizing and understanding the risks of your environment, practice good hygiene, and utilize adequately filtered water.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sometime in the not so distant future our lives will be turned upside down by yet another natural or manmade emergency. Start now by doing your research and figure out which type of emergency is most likely to affect your life. Then get ready! Once the stores close their doors and the gas stations are no longer pumping gas, it’s too late! Hope for the best, prepare for the worst and remember that the survival basics are similar even if the emergency or climatic conditions are different.

I was born and raised in the Hawaiian Islands and decided to come back after 12 years of schooling, working and military service on the USA mainland to raise my family on a relatively small island in the Pacific Ocean. Why would I do such a thing? Hint: It was 72 degrees below zero wind chill factor for two weeks during my last of seven winters in Montana! Some of the advantages of island living include the year round growing season, plenty of wild game, fruit trees and let’s not forget to mention the milder warmer climate. The downside of living on an island is that you’re really on your own when the commercial ships and planes stop coming over, which could be a blessing during a pathogen type emergency, but that’s another chapter.

Throughout the years of living here, I’ve noticed the way residents on a small tropical island do things are usually quite different from how folks would do things in more populated areas. You have to adapt a different attitude for living and dealing with the same people that inhibit that island since you’re going to interact with those neighbors more often. Similar rules and considerations would probably apply to behavior in a combined family retreat during a TEOTWAWKI or SHTF situation.

Another major consideration is that the resources on an island are very limited and very dependant on a robust commercial system. Most of our consumer goods (95%) are shipped here from the Mainland USA and people here are starting to realize that if that “commercial system” went down even for 3 days that the islands would quickly run short of food and other essential goods. A concerted effort is being made by a growing number of residents to think sustainable by planting gardens and exploring ways to be more self-sufficient as the island inhabitants were before us. We still have a long way to go but I’ve always felt that the more citizens that are prepared for emergencies the better.

Since you probably don’t own a retreat to bug out to and your emergency supplies are minimal, your emergency plans may include your home or apartment serving as your shelter in place location during a short-term emergency. Now let’s say the emergency lasts longer than expected and your power and water supply have stopped; you better have a plan B and C for moving out. Now comes the hard part about spending your hard earned money on gear that you may not use very much but will certainly be a game changer in any emergency. Consider the money you spend on essential gear as an investment and purchase the best equipment you can afford since replacement parts may be next to impossible to get once the stores close their doors and remember, your equipment doesn’t have to be fancy just functional and rugged.

Basics concerning food start by storing as much food as you can afford and have room for and don’t forget to rotate your food supply since they all have expiration dates. One-week supply of food and water should be the minimum amount to have on hand at any time. Energy bars and vitamin supplements should also be stored along with your food supply. If you live in a tropical area harvesting food from the ocean, rivers and streams will involve diving, spearing, netting or fishing and having the correct equipment is vital. Local residents have been living off the bounty from the ocean for centuries and knowing how to be such a hunter-gatherer will be life saving information.

Freeze-dried or MREs:
Choose these types of prepared foods if your plans include moving to a different location since these foods are lightweight making them easier to carry on your back and are worth their high price when you consider how heavy can goods are.   Supplement your diet with whatever you can find along the way if on the move.

Note: Basic ocean food gathering tools including a spin casting fishing rod, swim fins, facemask, spear, underwater flashlight and dive knife should be part of your gear if you live or plan to move to a tropical environment. Optional gear: wet suit, booties, SUP surfboard or small canoes to reach deeper water and assorted nets. Know your limits! Once in the water you’ll need to constantly watch out for big waves, sharp coral and strong rip currents.

Drinking Water:
Clean drinking water is essential to life for us humans and we need to drink at least 2 liters a day to function and more water is required if the climate is hot or your physical activity high. Even if there are clear flowing streams or rivers in your area, precautions should be taken to avoid drinking the water before treating. Pre-filter your unclean water with a cloth or handkerchief and then bring to a boil before drinking if no other purification methods are available. Consider a solar distiller before drinking salty and contaminated water. Drink water before you’re thirsty to avoid dehydration and heat stoke and add Gatorade type powder to your drinking water to keep your electrolytes balanced when under a heavy load.

Source and filters:

There are so many portable water filters and purification kits around not to have several on hand. Another method of purification is desalination which renders salty and contaminated water safe through evaporation and can be done with readily available materials such as copper tubing and cooking pots with tight lids. Always purify your water when in doubt since getting diarrhea from drinking contaminated water will take the fight right out of you and lessen your chances of survival. Know where your drinking water comes from and always stay alert for other sources of water. Don’t compromise your water sources by bathing or dumping wastes upstream. Rule: Take care of the natural resources and it will take care of you.
Prepare yourself to cook on open fires, small camping stoves or underground and think out of the box when preparing your meals. Consider solar ovens that are easy to build with readily available materials. You’ll be surprised at what looks edible when you’re really hungry! Watch your fires carefully since the Fire Department will probably be very busy during a major event and not be able to respond to every call, so include a fire extinguisher with your gear.

Methods and materials:

Have at least three different methods to start a fire on you at all times. Carry lighters and magnesium fire starters, which will provide you with many fires then learn the basics for fire making and practice them. Remember that burning green stuff means you’ll be making plenty of smoke, which may attract unwanted guests.

Note: Cooking meat, fish and starches underground is a method locals have been using for centuries. After the pit is dug large enough to fit whatever you’re cooking, add enough river rocks (make sure rocks are not wet before putting them into the fire) to cover the bottom and a few extra for the top, which have been heated over the fire until red hot. Food that has been covered with leaves (Hawaiians use ti leaves) can be added to the pit along with other items which are then covered with the extra rocks, banana leaves, dirt and allowed to cook for up to 8 hours. One of the advantages with this cooking method is that once the food is in the ground there’s not much else you have to do until its time to dig everything up and eat! Smoking feral pig meat in homemade smokers and dehydrating fish in a simple screened box under the sun are some of the other ways to preserve food here in the islands.

Shelter in place or move on:
Deciding where and how to shelter could change daily with your situation. Having sufficient supplies at home is the right thing to do, but there may come a time when moving to a safer location is your only option. In that case, go light, fast and stealthy. Make sure you have all the basics together before changing locations and think water, food, shelter and security. Add items like .22 ammo, lighters and small knives that might have barter value along the way and don’t forget to choose the correct sleeping bag for use in colder climates. Plastic tarps and garbage bags have multiple uses as raincoats, rain catchers and shelters.

Moving on:

Transportation will be challenging as everyone tries to move away from the danger. Vehicles are great as long as they have fuel and the roads are passable so keep enough fuel, tools and supplies in your vehicle at all times in case you have to move out. Traveling on foot will be a true test of your physical fitness, planning, know how and survival instincts. Make use of whatever resources you find along the way and stay out of sight whenever possible.

Medical training:
Knowing how to treat bleeding, breathing and shock emergencies will make you and your survival skills more valuable. Stay up on your training since these are perishable skills and learn the rules of triage because when resources are limited, the patients with the best chance of making it will become your main priority. No one said this was going to be easy!
Basic first aid:
Sign up with the American Red Cross, CERT (Community Emergency Response
Team) groups or local community colleges for basic first aid, CPR training or EMT
classes and keep a good first aid manual available for easy reference.

Equipment and Treatment:

First aid kits are an important part of your supplies and should include a pair of EMT scissors, which are great for exposing wounds and other cutting chores (used to call them penny cutters since they could cut a penny in half). Clean and dress your wounds immediately to avoid infection, since a severe infection could mean death without the proper antibiotics or hospitalization. Preventive medicine is the best medicine.

Note: Assemble your medical kits in different sizes so that they can be used at home, in your vehicle or out in the field. Include Quik Clot, trauma dressings and emergency blankets for trauma wounds. Having the proper training and equipment to handle basic medical emergencies will certainly be a lifesaver if a SHTF or TEOTWAWKI situation occurs. Teaming up with individuals who have emergency or clinical medical experience is also highly recommended.

Protecting yourself and supplies from bullies and others not so well prepared could be an issue during any extended emergency, since the Police may not be able to respond to your urgent calls. You can share and starve or protect your essential supplies. Remember, you are not responsible for everyone’s welfare and you won’t be able to help anyone (including yourself) if you become a victim! Be ready to make some tough decisions and THINK SAFETY FIRST.

Weapons of choice:

Figure out what caliber weapons are right for you. Decide how much ammo you can carry and if you’ll be able to resupply from other sources. Consider a handgun and long gun for personal use and keep your weapon at your side at all times. If you decide on just one firearm; select a rugged accurate rifle for hunting and protection. Learn how to use your weapon, then practice shooting and reloading!

Note: Basic gear for a youth might include a Marlin 22-mag lever action rifle, which is adequate for the small game like wild chickens. Rifle holds 12 rounds in its tubular magazine and should be equipped with a 4-power scope. Kukri knife is good for camp type chores and the Cold Steel Hunter knife is ideal for cleaning game. Optional gear: IR red dot sight, Ruger Stainless Steel .38 caliber, speed loaders and wire screen chicken traps which can be baited with bird seed or fruit.

Rifle slings and holsters will free your hands up to do other things. Extra ammo, magazines and a good gun cleaning kit should be added to your load along with flashlights with rechargeable batteries. Consider adding a lightweight flexible portable solar panel, deep cycle battery and inverter to recharge your batteries or else plan on carrying plenty of extra batteries. Stock up on plenty of ammo and reloading equipment. Lee has several styles of portable reloading presses that are field-tested, reliable and lightweight.
Note: Basic gear for a woman might include a .223-caliber rifle with a 3x9 power scope, extra 5 round magazines and a Lite Hunter knife. Optional gear: Beretta .380 semi auto, holster, extra 13 round magazines, pepper spray, push knife, bullet bandolier, 12” Ontario machete and a IR red dot sight.

Environmental considerations:
Prepare for temperature extremes in your area by keeping the proper rain gear and cold weather gear close at hand. Don’t forget gloves, hat and extra socks if you’re in cold wet weather. Include a sharp machete, heavy-duty ponchos and paracord with your gear to increase your chances of survival in the tropics since these items are essential for shelter, water collecting and jungle clearing when on the move. Learn about the edible plants and animals in your area (e.g. feral pigs, chickens, goats and deer are common here) and how to prepare them. The oceans are full of opportunities both good and bad so know your limits before getting into the water and learn to identify the edible sea life in your area.

Cold, hot or tropical:
Select the proper clothing for your climate. Military spec clothing and gear will last longer in the field, which is important since replacements may be hard to come by. I recommend good old Army boots with sure grip for hikes on loose ground and slippery muddy trails. Don’t forget the needle, thread and duct tape to make repairs.    

Note: Climatic conditions in tropical locations can range anywhere from hot dry desert heat to cold wet rain forests or freezing snow covered mountains. The temperature variation in the tropics can range anywhere from 30 – 90 degrees F. Different strategies, equipment and know how will be needed in each zone.

Long-term vs. short-term emergencies:
Figure out what supplies you’ll need to survive in your area. Food, water, shelter and security items will be your most valuable items. How long will your supplies last? Remember at least 2 liters of water and 2000 calories minimum for each person per day. Purchase freeze-dried products or MREs for their longer shelf life and lighter weight if your plans include moving on foot. Make sure you add several means of gathering food in case the emergency last for a while.

Calculate supply limits:
How much food and water you carry will depend on whether you’re in a vehicle or walking. Separate your essential camping supplies from your home essentials for quick access and have a plan B in case the vehicle breaks down. A good backpack, worn sturdy boots and good physical fitness will be essential if you have to move on foot. And remember that living off the land by scavenging and hunting is hard physical work, so start getting in shape now!

Note: Gear for your alpha male might include a Remington .30-06 with a 9x40 scope designed for hunting larger game like wild pigs, which are abundant here. Optional equipment: night vision, range finder, 12 gauge pump shotgun, .45 ACP pistol, a 10/22 semi auto rifle and wire snares. The wire snares are set up along pig trails and need to be checked frequently.

[JWR Adds: In the tropics it is best to opt for as many stainless steel guns as possible. Synthetic stocks are also preferrred.]
Resources in your area:
Find out what kinds of people, plants and animals live in your area before something happens. Knowing who and what resources are in your area will be critical in developing your shelter-in or bug out plans. If gangs or druggies have a habit of hanging out in your neighborhood…plan to move out early! Locations near seashores, reservoirs, lakes and rivers offer plenty of opportunities for food gathering, if you know how and have the right gear.

Hunting and gathering:
Learn about hunting, trapping or gardening skills. Think of dumpster diving as a means to resupply and don’t forget about the bow, arrow or crossbow for hunting quietly. Gunshots may bring unwanted attention or guests your way, so stay alert!

Note: Resources like banana, coconut and breadfruit trees are common in the more tropical areas. Parts of these plants can be used for eating, cooking food and made into shelter material. Learn what plants grow in your area and how they can help you during an emergency when all the stores are closed. Storing seeds from your garden will come in handy once things settle down and you can plant them. Avoid GMO seeds since they can’t reproduce themselves.

How will you get the information you’ll need to decide where to go and what to do? Portable communication equipment will function if you have a power source or rechargeable batteries with some way of charging them. Take all information from a single source with a grain of salt and use your common sense. Good communications is always one of the most important aspects of any emergency. Humans need that personal interaction with others and hearing news events or where to find supplies will be helpful during any type of emergency.

Local or International News:
Will the local radio or authorities be able to broadcast event information Are there any ham radio operators in your area who will be able to monitor world events? Police scanners can be a useful source of local information during emergencies.

Note: Compact rechargeable communication gear you might consider before the electricity goes down includes a simple crank AM/FM radio, rechargeable FRS/GMRS radios, ham radio, rechargeable battery pack, solar photovoltaic panel, and AC/DC inverter. Don’t forget the AA, AAA rechargeable batteries and charger!

Basic equipment:
Well-built firearms, knives (small size for cleaning game), sharpening devices, fire making devices, water-purifying kits and food-gathering materials are just some of the basic gear you’ll need. A sturdy backpack to carry these items will be needed if you’re on foot and remember that compact is better if you’re on the move. Don’t forget the fishing line, hooks, lead weights and snares and include a change of clothes that will protect you from the outdoor climate extremes in your area. Stay dry since hypothermia is a real threat even in the tropics. Add a long brim hat, bandanas, sunglasses and sun block lotion since excessive time will be spent outdoors. Extra eyeglasses and any necessary medications are also recommended since supplies may be few and far between.

Note: Researching the poisonous critters or dangerous plants in your area should be part of your threat assessment since you’ll likely be spending more time in the great outdoors. We have all kinds of biting insects, barracudas, thorny plants and big sharks here in the tropics and knowing how to avoid these types of threats will increase your chances of surviving the next crisis.
Threat assessment:
Narrow it down because it’s way too complicated and unrealistic to try to prepare for every possible threat out there and take a multi hazard approach by preparing for your basic needs. Example: Water, food, shelter and security should come to mind for starters. The same basic necessities will be needed for your survival whether it’s for a hurricane or a more extreme situation like a pandemic or EMP event.

Prepare yourself mentally to do whatever it takes to survive during the emergency situation and be hyper vigilante for opportunities to resupply. Do what you can for others along the way without becoming a victim and protect yourself with whatever means are available. Consider teaming up with other trustworthy people who have different survival skills to increase your security and your available skill sets.

Research and practice your survival skills before an emergency happens and start your functional physical fitness training, which will enable you to perform those everyday survival chores without hurting yourself. Try hiking or walking with a backpack, preparing simple meals on a fire and learn to enjoy the outdoors for practice and outdoor skills building.

After a short emergency it’s great to get out there and help each other recover but if the emergency is more severe and lasts longer don’t be surprised if people get desperate and dangerous. Protect yourself and loved ones by researching, preparing and training now.
Remember that you are responsible for your own safety during any emergency and don’t be afraid to think outside the box!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

As a physician I would like to share my experience in evaluating and treating concussions (mild Traumatic Brain Injury- mTBI) in military and civilian patients over the last 3 years. In this article concussion and mTBI refer to identical injuries. This is a very pertinent discussion at this time due to the recent unfortunate shooting incident in Afghanistan by a US Military soldier diagnosed with TBI (traumatic brain injury). The Rand Corporation estimates there are over 350,000 US military men and women suffering from concussions symptoms (mTBI) and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from blast incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of these wounded warriors are still trying to cope with their injured brain disabilities. Many are being redeployed after the diagnosis of TBI is made. They have not been able to return to a normal and productive lifestyle. In the civilian population concussions occur in more than 6 per 1,000 people each year. Common causes of civilian concussion are falls or blows to the head, motor vehicular accidents, bike accidents, sport injuries, or exposure to loud noises (explosion, etc). Most concussions (80-90%) resolve in a short period (7-10 days).

I was an active duty US Army physician from 1969 to 1971 and very familiar with military medicine. All of our recently treated concussed patients were months, some years, post concussion and still experiencing severe post concussion symptoms. One of my patients was a US Army Brig General concussed in Afghanistan by an IED explosion. His resulting concussion symptoms and cognitive impairment issues lasted for months before successful treatment with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
In the past three years I have treated over 25 concussed (TBI) military patients for lingering concussion symptoms. I have been using hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to treat these patients. None of these patients had life threatening head injuries. All had normal CT Scans/MRIs. Symptoms in these patients included cognitive impairment, loss of memory, headaches, depression, fatigue, anger and irritability, sleep disturbances, loss of multitasking and executive functions, and hypervigilance. All patients had successful results from HBOT therapy and either returned to full military duty, continued in school, or returned to full civilian employment.

The Department of Defense has developed criteria for the diagnosis of mTBI (Concussions) which must include one of the following

  1. Any period of loss of or decreased level of consciousness lasting less then 30 minutes
  2. Any loss of memory for events immediately before or after the injury lasting less than 24 hours after the event
  3. any alteration in mental state at the time of the injury such as confusion, disorientation, or slowed thinking lasting less than 24 hours
  4. transient neurological deficits (e.g. Weakness, loss of balance, change in vision, praxis, paresis or plegia, sensory loss, aphasia and
  5. Normal intracranial imaging.

All of our patients were previously treated by different agencies with medication only which gave them little or no relief in their disabling concussion symptoms. Our patients received a total of over 1400 HBOT treatments without any complications or adverse reactions.  Patients were all treated in a rigid hyperbaric oxygen chamber at 1.5 ATA (17ft) on 100% oxygen for 60 minutes. The hyperbaric mTBI protocol calls for a minimum of 40 treatments with up to 80 treatments if necessary. Treatment plans and the need for additional HBOT treatments are based upon the clearing of concussion symptoms and improvement in Neuropsychological (neurocognitive) (NP) testing.

Neurocognitive testing is used to evaluate the concussed patient’s post injury neurocognitive condition and track improvements made with HBOT therapy. Neurocognitive testing is an assessment tool that can be used to identify changes in a patient’s cognitive function and mood state as a result of some debilitating event. Neurocognitive testing has become the most important modality in management and determination of a full recovery in concussed patients. The military NP test used was the ANAM (Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics) test.

The ANAM was developed by the military to evaluate and follow the progress of TBI patients. A baseline NP test is performed before deployment with repeat testing following concussion injuries. During HBOT therapy the ANAM test is administered after each 20 HBOT treatments to document the progress and improvement in the injured brain. A different NP test is given to our civilian patients. All NP testing in done on an office computer and takes about 25 minutes. Report printouts are available immediately. These reports along with examination and discussions with the patient and family are used to determine if HBOT is indicated or needs to be continued.

There is controversy concerning the use of HBOT in the treatment of concussed patients. The majority of military mTBI patients are currently being treated primarily with prescription medications for their symptoms. Many of our military patients commented they were in a constant “brain fog” as a result of all the meds they were prescribed. They received sleeping pills if sleep was an issue, pain medication for headaches, antidepressants for depression, tranquilizers for anxiety and so forth. None of these medications treat the cause of TBI/PTSD which is the injured brain. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy through research and clinical use has demonstrated to be effective in repairing the injured brain. The current research is based upon both animal and human studies. There is a multitude of currently published medical literature demonstrating the benefit of HBOT in the treatment and repairing of injured brains.

Some of the criticisms in the use of HBOT treating concussions from different agencies are based upon the fact HBOT is not currently approved by the FDA in the specific treatment of mTBI. Many clinical studies are underway at this time studying the effectiveness of HBOT in the treatment of TBI/PTSD. The FDA will not approve procedures that are still in the clinical study mode. We as hyperbaric physicians have treated successfully hundreds of TBI/PTSD military personnel all with no adverse effects. HBOT is approved by the FDA to treat four types of brain injuries. These brain injuries include carbon monoxide poisoning, decompression sickness (Bends), arterial gas embolism to the brain, and acute blindness from central retinal artery occlusion. We as Physicians are allowed to use treatment modalities not FDA approved as long as, first, we do no harm to the patient and there is benefit in the treatment. We as a group of Physicians believe it is a mistake to currently deny these thousands of brain injured military personnel treatments which have shown to be completely effective in treating successfully and permanently mTBI and PTSD. Most of us treating hyperbaric physicians have not been paid at all by the military or the VA for our services to these injured men and women. I believe I speak for the group that we perform this service because we know it works, we respect the military and what it stands for, and that our injured men and women deserve the most effective currently available treatment for their injuries after putting their life on the line for our country.

Dr. Paul Harch MD gave testimony to the US House of Representatives last year  pointing out that nearly all the medication being prescribed by Military Medicine and the Veterans Administration is being used “OFF-LABEL” as the standard of care for blast induced TBI and PTSD despite little or no research to support this prescribing. An estimated 120 combat Veterans per week or more than 10,000 overall have committed suicide according to the CDC numbers investigated by CBS News. The House Veteran Affairs Committee was told earlier that many of the suicides were related to the use of the FDA Black-Box drugs being use off-label  These drugs carry specific warnings about increased suicide rates

Our first mTBI military patients were treated with HBOT in 2009. The two Airmen were in an armored semi-truck when they were involved in an IED explosion in Iraq. Neither man lost consciousness but they were dazed and somewhat confused initially.  The both experienced the immediate onset of headaches. They were seen at an aid station later in the day, given acetaminophen, and returned to duty. Over a period of weeks these men began to experience debilitating concussive symptoms of severe headaches, memory loss, cognitive issues, anger/irritability issues and severe sleep disturbances. Upon returning to the US they were referred to our facility for HBOT by Col.(Dr) James Wright USAF Special Operations Command Surgeon and Board Certified Hyperbaric Physician.

Fortunately both men were given screening  neuropsychological tests (ANAM) before they deployed to Iraq. We were able to compare their post injury tests with the baseline NP tests. Post injury testing  revealed both men to be severely cognitively impaired from their concussions. Both men receive a series of HBOT treatments with NP testing after each 20 treatments. At the end of their HBOT treatments both men were completely free of all previous mTBI symptoms. Both airmen returned to their pre injury NP baseline scores after HBOT treatments. One man required 40 treatments and the other 80 HBOT treatments to return to their baseline NP scores. The Airmen are still on active duty. I recently spoke with both men and they are doing well without any concussion signs or symptoms. Col. Wright and I published a case report of these men in a major peer reviewed medical journal.  

There is a lot of attention currently in the press and on the Internet regarding our TBI wounded men and women. There is an ongoing study NBIRR (national brain injury rescue rehabilitation) sanctioned by the Western Institutional Review Board (WIRB) using HBOT in concussed patients. There are 12 hyperbaric centers in the USA involved with this study. This study is an unfunded study and all treating facilities are providing the HBOT treatments to our injury veterans on their “nickel”. This study can be accessed by searching on the Internet and clicking on the “” box.

Dr. Paul Harch, Dr. James Wright, Dr. Bill Duncan, Dr. Rob Beckman and former Secretary of the Army Martin Hoffmann are currently playing  key roles  pro bono in an attempt to obtain funding for HBOT treatments for our wounded warriors.  These men are meeting regularly with top Military officials and members of Congress in this attempt.  The Navy League ( recently released a video on the use of HBOT treating TBI in military men and women.   At the end of the video both the  Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant  of the Marine Corps acknowledge at a congressional hearing their support for the use of HBOT in treating their TBI injured personnel.         

Links to all publications, videos, references and military patient’s HBOT testimonials referred to in this article can be viewed at our web site,  I believe there may be a lot of response to this article. Some will be good, some may be critical.  The VA and military do offer a variety of other treatment modalities to our wounded TBI troops.  We believe the data and experience generated by the thousand of HBOT treatments used to successfully treat mTBI/PTSD warrants the acceptance by governmental agencies this method of treatment in our TBI/PTSD wounded men and women.

Respectfully, - Dr. Albert E. Zant MD (Eddie Zant MD)

Good Morning Jim,
I have to fill you in on this.  I spent the last three days in Ohio at Chuck Fenwick's (of Medical Corps / KIO3) Combat medicine class and just posted this on my Facebook page.
"I'm the president of I spent the last three days at Chuck Fenwick and Dave Turner's combat medicine class in Ohio and I highly recommend it. Check out the stuff we did, here. It was a great experience and I am so glad I got to meet some of the great people I did. We will also have some new medical/dental supplies on our site soon thanks to them. One real interesting part was sitting next to a 30-year veteran MD that confessed that she didn't know most of what she learned at the class and hadn't even sutured since medical school. Think about that!"
I met some great people from Chuck to Dave Turner, Tom Loomis (Dentist) Jean Paul, and others..  I highly recommend this class and hope to take his advanced class in July. 
So many things stick in my head and one is that I now feel competent at even taking care of my kids teeth such as a filling or extraction in a situation where the infrastructure has failed.
Thanks, - Tom

Monday, March 19, 2012

Rabies – a legitimate concern or fear-mongering? 
As I watch my pet Golden Retriever "Doodles" cautiously sniff at the curb sewer, I believe the threat is real.  A family of raccoons lives in the sewer pipes, and just a few months ago a local dog died of raccoon rabies.  Could my children be next?

Ohio is on the frontier of raccoon rabies, but despite yearly aerial and ground baiting programs for oral rabies vaccination, the uniformly lethal infection is moving westward.  Bat rabies, the other common threat, is distributed more evenly across the United States.  (If you’re wondering about your own state, check out the maps at Rabid Raccoons Reported in the United States during 2010 and Rabid Bats Reported in the United States during 2010

Odds are you’re unaware of anyone who’s died of rabies. That might not be the case if you live in India.  In the U.S., human rabies is so rare that every case is investigated by the CDC (only 2–4 per year). In India, annual deaths top 20,000, with someone dying of rabies every 30 minutes. (Read this article.) This is largely due to under-vaccination of the dog population.  Per the World Health Organization, 15 million people worldwide are treated with post-exposure vaccination, which is estimated to prevent 327,000 rabies deaths annually.

So what would happen in America if the vaccine became unavailable and the population of stray dogs exploded? This could well occur in a true end-of-life-as-we-know-it scenario.  Though our population density is not that of India, clearly the number of cases would skyrocket. 

The next logical question is: what can be done about it?  Avoiding contact with bats, raccoons, wild canines, skunks, and suspicious dogs is obviously indicated.  Even pacifists may be motivated to acquire a gun and the knowledge to use one safely.  Clearly you should vaccinate pets and other domestic animals now

But what about pre-exposure vaccination in humans?  This is already recommended for veterinary students, spelunkers, and travelers to endemic regions where dog contact is likely.  In 2009 a Virginia physician diagnosed his own subsequently fatal case of rabies a few months after returning from India – and without suspicious animal exposure! His agonizing end is detailed at the CDC web site

If you ask your family doctor whether you should be vaccinated against rabies in case of widespread disaster, the answer will likely be no.  At a cost of up to $800 for the series of three shots, your insurance is unlikely to cover immunizations without a clear indication. However, if you visit a travel clinic, perhaps at your local health department, you may be able to obtain the vaccine, especially if you fall into one of the high risk categories mentioned above.  The low-risk state of Indiana has a nice summary regarding vaccination on their web site. Your own state should offer something similar, or read the CDC’s guidelines on Human Rabies Prevention.

If you do desire vaccination, how long is immunity expected to last?  Unfortunately only a few years.  Current recommendations for those at high-risk include blood testing for effective immunity every 2-3 years, followed by re-vaccination if titers are low. (Pets simply receive repeat vaccination.)

I have also investigated the question of using canine rabies vaccination on humans.  This has not been tested and likely never will be.  I expect the likelihood of allergic reaction might be increased.  However, per the doctors I consulted, they felt canine rabies vaccine has a good chance of effectiveness in humans.  If I were bitten by a bat or suspicious raccoon, skunk, or dog, and the only thing I had available was animal vaccine, I would certainly use it.  Curiously, some states, including Ohio, allow purchase of veterinary rabies vaccine by non-medical personnel, although most states limit sale to veterinarians only. The same dose is used for dogs of all sizes, with twice as much administered to horses.

So where does this leave us?  As a family physician, stockpiling human rabies vaccine is cost-prohibitive.  On the other hand, at $20/dose, stockpiling dog rabies vaccine is a consideration, both for professionals and laymen.  Vaccines do require refrigeration and commonly list a shelf-life of only a year or two, but having something on hand may be preferable to having nothing.  

While I cannot offer a one-size-fits-all answer on this topic, rabies vaccination is a valid question for serious preppers.

Dr. Koelker is the SurvivalBlog's Medical Editor and hosts the popular medical prepping site   

Friday, March 16, 2012

Introductory Note: We are not medical professionals. We just have extensive experience working in nursery homes and taking care of injured, sick or disabled family members, here called “patient”, insert whatever is relevant to you.

So here are our tips and recommendations, not necessarily in order of importance:
If you have a disabled family member, consider getting hold of a wheel chair and a specially designed  “sitting” sleeping bag for wheelchair users. Alternatively make a carpet bag with a side zipper out of fleece blankets. Essential for bugging out or just if the heating fails.

Have a bedpan and a “bedside commode” or ”potty chair” available. Using this contraption, though initially embarrassing for the user AND the helper (if one is a family member and not in a professional relationship), can become a necessity. A port-a-potty is nice to have, but in case of a slipped disk or a broken or amputated leg, you really need a sturdy chair for the job. If you have to improvise – take an old, solidly built wooden chair – make a (max. bucket opening sized) hole in the seat, fasten a (removable) bucket or bedpan underneath and voila! Wheels only make sense if you manage to install brakes as well, actually a good reason to invest in a professional toilet chair before anyone needs it. The wheeled plastic/ steel version is also excellent for taking a shower while sitting.

Another not-so-nice theme that should be considered: Adult diapers – easily available now in all sizes and shapes. In addition disposable or quarter size washable sheets for putting under the bedpan, avoiding constant change of bedclothes, are a must for the sanity and back health of caregivers. Sleeping in an even slightly wet bed can be dangerous, and is certainly depressing.  Here, as in actually all cases of caring for older people, one should not take their word for whatever, since the attitude of “don´t mind me, I´m fine” is installed into most of the members of the older generation. Check that the bed is dry, drinking water is available, clothing doesn´t hurt, no sores are developing, and all other factors you can evaluate on your own.
Not wanting to “bother” the caregivers might lead to actions like trying to get out of the wheelchair to reach something too high up, or holding back the need for the toilet until bedtime, possibly leading to accidents or increased health damage.

This is why it is also important to now get hold of some “reachers” so the patient has a chance to pick up things like their glasses and such without calling for help every time.

The possibility to sit supported in bed is also very important, either by a specially made triangular pillow (can be made out of foam mattress material); adjustable mattress support or simply an angled wooden board under a folded blanket. A slightly elevated chest area while sleeping can be very important for heart patients and patients with respiratory problems.
If at all possible, consider investing in a medical bed or at least one with adjustable head support. A “real” hospital/ nursing bed should include a pulley over the head for easy change of position (and to hang a bell from), and should have removable bedside rails on at least one side. In addition a medical bed should have lockable wheels and be height-adjustable. Such a bed is incredibly useful for taking care of people at home with the minimum of back problems for the caretaker. Taking a look now in a hospital at how these beds function can be useful for recreating the essential features at home, if you can´t afford to buy it or cannot get it through medicare. Maybe the second hand market for EMP safe good old fashioned mechanical beds is even preferable? Maybe even your nearest hospital sells off old equipment.

Some mattress considerations: If you want to avoid the horrible condition called pressure sores, something that might occur in unconscious or very weak patients who are not able to move around in bed, get hold of a sheep fur or some synthetic “anti decubitus” furs (- medical shop product but not pricey, also get hold of a bedpan, a “reacher” and a pair of adjustable crutches while you are shopping for medical equipment). The fur gets positioned directly under the heels and ideally also under the buttocks. Believe me, this is a case of better safe than sorry – you will rather want to wash some fur regularly (easy with the synthetic version) than seeing your loved ones develop pressure sores and having to treat that. In addition, if you can splurge or get it paid by health insurance, get a computer controlled “medical air mattress”, this eliminates most of the problem for patients not able to turn in bed.

For such a mattress a constant electric supply is of course necessary, but the only alternative might be to turn the patient once every hour by hand, (a job for two people if the patient is heavy) all through the night and maybe the day also… Maybe an old fashioned straw mattress would work just as well, I have no experience with that. In any case please use the heel fur and/or elevate the legs with folded blankets or pillows to avoid pressure on the heels. Here you have to adjust carefully to avoid blocking the blood flow below the knee, so if no feedback from the patient is possible, use common sense and maybe try the different pillow positions out yourself.

If a pressure wound already has developed before the patient came into your care, and the flesh even maybe has turned black - believe it or not, but cleaning with whey and plastering the wound with soft white fresh cheese called “quark” (similar to cottage cheese), can reverse this condition and create complete healing! The cheese bandage of course needs to be exchanged morning, midday and evening after carefully cleaning the wound with whey (which is highly disinfecting). If you don´t have access to whey from a farmer, you can buy it bottled as “Molkosan”, made by a Swiss firm called Bioforce/ Dr. Vogel. Anyway, this is a relatively messy and initially smelly business, so take care to keep the room properly aired and disinfect the air as well, e.g. by burning sweetgrass or or placing a pot of simmering water with some juniper twigs in on the oven; alternatively putting a drop or two (maximum five) of some essential oil like eucalyptus  (ideally E. Radiata) on a light bulb or heating; use disposable gloves and take care to burn the used cleaning and bandaging material. Of course synthetic “air fresheners” you can forget in this context – we need the anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties here.

We successfully treated a relative with a pressure damaged heel (diabetic condition) this way. The already black heel regenerated completely after some weeks of the “cheese and whey” method that hubby discovered in the book “der kleine Doktor” (“The Little Doctor”) by the abovementioned Dr. Vogel. Highly recommended  book!

We started this unlikely sounding treatment as a last resort after the local doctor had given up and recommended surgery! The black skin fell off piece by piece and fresh pink skin grew back. Of course the legs were also supported by  a pillow at night so pressure was off the heel.
I have not used this treatment on the kind of pressure sores that can develop as a channel under the skin. As far as I have seen the way to get rid of these wounds is often and regular cleaning with a flexible tube and salt water. I would also suggest chamomile tea for the rinsing.

For broken bones: 1/2 a cup of Comfrey/ Boneknit tea three times daily for max three weeks – we healed our “teenaged” cat with multiple fractures after a car accident with Bach drops and comfrey tea in his drinking water! The vet who fastened a mini metal plate with screws told us the cat would always limp. Imagine his surprise when, on the checkup half a year after removing the plate, both legs were perfectly equal and we could tell him our cat jumped and climbed on anything he could find...
Back to humans: For the patient in bed a radio, CD/MP3 player, reading board/ bed table and a short bed jacket can make life much more enjoyable, and feeling well taken care of also obviously speeds up recovery.

Flowers on the table do a lot to cheer the atmosphere in a room, but please no candles! Fire combined with a person unable to move is not a risk you want to take to take. [JWR Adds: This was how my great-great uncle, a stagecoach driver named Joseph Rawles died in 1872, while recovering at home from a gunshot wound. As my grandfather described it: "While he was recovering from the bullet wound, he was reading in bed one night. A breeze came up and blew the curtain over the coal-oil [kerosene] lamp, setting it on fire. Joe jumped up to try to put the fire out, and he had a hemorrhage, and died."]

A bell in reachable distance is vital unless the patient is senile and rings every five seconds, in which case a timer for regular checks will help.

Senility/ dementia/ diabetic confusion check: Ask the patient for his/ her complete name, birth date and current address. If not correct also a stroke might be the cause. You will have to evaluate if the answers show damage or just habitual confusion or even just shyness.
Some words of warning about senility: Mrs. Icebear´s experience: I once personally had to pry a Christmas table decoration out of the hands of a gentle old lady so senile that she was eating it, and even though it obviously didn´t taste she put up a brave face and conversed nicely with the non-existent people left and right of her while trying to chew candles and pine cones and such. Because of her exceedingly good manners she seemed otherwise normal, so until I saw her eating the candles I had no idea if the degree of her senility. With dementia patients also watch out for unusual crankiness – that might be a symptom of infection or pain. Sudden foul language or unintelligible mumblings can be a sign of dangerously low blood sugar in diabetics! A fast drink of apple juice and an added dextrose tablet has kept our relative out of hospital many a time. Of course we did this with the support of official caretakers (home nurse services).

More on dementia/ senility: Senile paranoia (“You have poisoned my water”) is not a lot of fun, and since this apparently can be induced by a lack of essential nutrients, it is important that also elderly people in your care get their vitamins and minerals.
We just found on the net that there seems to be no difference between the symptoms of alzheimer´s disease and vitamin B 12 deficiency, so it only makes sense to take especially care of this for everyone. The different B vitamins are naturally available for instance in unshelled rice and whole grains. For vegetarians: Some non-meat sources of B12 are also raw banana, raw papaya and, for the more northern gardeners: carrots, hawthorn berries and dandelions. 

Beware of dehydrating herb teas, for instance nettle, blackberry and raspberry leaf tea are good mineral sources and useful for a short term kidney cleanse cure; but as a regular, everyday tea far too dehydrating.  Since older people often lose their sense of thirst, and thereby drink too little water, it is especially important to check their fluid intake. Of course staying hydrated (between 1.5 and 3 liters per day for adults) is  very important for all ages, e.g. to avoid kidney damage! Here is a piece for more on the importance of drinking water to stay healthy.  

Pain management:
Elderly people often have an elevated pain threshold, so if an older person says something hurts, you have to take it seriously. For pain medication in general, remember the aspirin/ willow bark connection, and check out these articles:
Nettles have been used for lowering childbirth pain, and also have a host of other uses:

For teething children a piece of amber often eases the pain.
To avoid tooth ache in general, try cleaning your teeth with fresh sage leaves, get enough vitamin C.

To avoid earache consider wearing hats, caps, scarves or bonnets: If anyone, especially children have an earache it is a very serious condition to be treated as fast as possible, since if left untreated it is horribly painful and in the worst case can lead to permanent loss of hearing and even death.  At the first sign of earache carefully put a cotton ball with one or maximum two drops of lavender oil in the outer ear; keep covered, draft free and warm. Alone or combined with a pain killer containing Ibuprofen (also anti-inflammatory) this might help to avoid the need for antibiotics at all if you act fast and keep the patient indoors until completely healed.
Apropos of antibiotics: There are natural alternatives like garlic for internal and external use (avoid for people with a heart condition) and honey and plantain for wounds. Read up hawthorn, ginger.

Alternative earache treatment if it is already serious and no doctor or antibiotic is available: If you have stored castor/ ricinus oil (this is one oil you do not want to risk making yourself from scratch since if done incorrectly it is very poisonous) you can pour some warm (not hot) drops into the ear, then out again before it cools. Clean well. Keep warm. Do the lavender treatment as well. Repeat at least twice a day until healed.

If you want more background info on this, check out Edgar Cayce (if you google him be prepared for a moderate to high tin foil hat level - warning hereby issued.) Anyway, with warm castor oil packs we have successfully treated painful joints, bronchitis and twisted ankles, amongst other things. The procedure for making the castor oil pack at home without specialized equipment is as follows (less complicated than it seems and definitely worth it when you see the amazing results):

First of all get hold of at good sized (quarter to half a liter) bottle of castor oil – if you get worried questions because of the amount tell the salesperson you need it for compresses, not for laxative purposes! Then dismember an old (not too chunky) wool sweater or fold some thin pure wool or old flannel cotton fabric so it can sponge up the oil. The size of the pack you make of course depends on what you are going to treat – a twisted finger obviously gets a different size pack than a child´s chest when getting a treatment for bronchitis. Put the fabric you want in a glass pot or big jam jar – soak the fabric in castor oil and heat the pot or jar in a second (cooking) pot with warm water until the oil is warm but not scalding. Careful please –hot oil is really hot! When warm - not scalding- (try out the temperature on the back of your hands!!!)  put the pack on the patient where needed, then cover/ wrap the whole thing with cling film to keep the oil contained, then put a towel over that again and top it with a blanket to keep the warmth in as long as possible. Maybe gold foil over the towel – we have not tried that out. Important: These oil packs have to be kept warm as long as in use (typically 1 to 2 hours). Because of the cling film sometimes body heat can be enough to keep the warmth for a while, otherwise a hot water bottle does the trick. Remove the pack at once when starting to cool. Wash the treated skin thoroughly with baking powder instead of soap to get the oil completely off and avoid cooling. Throw away or leave in the pot/ jar until next time – can be reused some times. The fabric is not washable anymore, so this method calls for personal glass pots/ jars and fabric pieces for each family member.
The commercial version with instructions (avoiding the danger of too hot oil), see this article.

Some general tips to keep less physically active members of your family healthy and happy:
A good help for cleaning up clogged arteries is horsetail tea. Many herbs and spices are very useful for this and for regulating blood pressure, blood sugar levels and many other health issues, so get a book or do some internet research on wildflowers, herbs, spices and teas.
Special support stockings can be of enormous help if used the right way (put them on in the morning while lying on back holding legs up!) Also useful for avoiding thrombosis on long car or airplane trips.

To avoid constipation: a teaspoonful of crushed flaxseed in a glass of water each morning.
Training with rubber bands or dumbbells (or plastic bottles filled with sand) can work wonders for wheel  chair users– keeping the fit parts of the body in shape is important! Also doing things that stimulate the finger nerves, like playing an instrument; knitting; crocheting; doing macramé (in prepper circles known as “paracord belt making”;-) even painting or writing keep joints supple and the brain healthy.

Of course these are all pretty obvious things, but here goes anyway:
Crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, sudoku,  and of course reading and even listening to the radio keeps boredom at bay and the brain fit and functioning, also jobs like perimeter watch by PC screen or window; communications officer or teacher might be delegated to senior or disabled family/ group members, with advantages for all concerned. For sick children: in addition to books and drawing/ painting material, an old, salvaged Gameboy or PS1 might save everybody´s sanity.  
At the end of the day sleeping medicine might be of help: Try the classic glass of warm milk, a drop of lavender oil on the pillow, or a cup of lavender or valerian tea! For older people: one (just one) drink of a favorite liquor has turned out to be more effective than sleeping pills (this info I have from a newspaper article about a private nursing home where the patients could choose between pills and a “night cap”).

In closing Mrs. Icebear wants to share an experience that dispelled any ideas that old age means bad health:
In the nursing home where I worked 30 years ago there lived a 98 year old lady that was just too healthy to die! She wanted so much to leave this world; so even though fit, she spent her time lying in bed singing and praying to Jesus to take her with him, but her body just stubbornly kept on functioning. One night she for some reason decided to climb out of bed over her bedside rails, thereby breaking a thigh bone; then as a follow-up she contracted pneumonia from being left sitting naked and wet in a wheelchair after a shower, so in less than a week she managed to get where she wanted so much to go. Needless to say I´m skeptical about nursing homes, but that is another, long story. Anyway, my point here is: If she would not so desperately have wanted to die, this old lady apparently could have gone on living for a long time. She had no diseases and in addition had a model´s size and shape. She was also not anorectic but simply healthy. The only visible sign of old age was her gray hair and slightly hollowed face, and the skin that was rather papery, covered with very fine wrinkles. When I complimented this dignified lady on her fantastic figure, and asked what she had done to get it she answered: “Mother made us sit up straight at the table – always remember to keep your back straight, she told us”.  On my question if she had had a lot of physical activity she said: “Yes, we almost never took the tram, we walked everywhere!”
So this could be the recipe for health so sturdy that you might live long enough to get tired of it…J

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