By Sam Coffman
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Herbal Medic covers first-aid essentials, such how to assess a situation and a person in need of treatment and distinguish between illness and injury, as well as how to prepare and use herbs when there is no access to conventional medical treatment. In addition, the book provides a basic introduction to herbal medicine, with detailed entries on the best herbs to use in treatment; information on disease in the body and how herbs work against it; instructions for making herbal preparations; a list of those herbs the author has found most useful in his clinical experience; and a wide array of specific herbal care protocols for a multitude of acute health issues.
The mission of Storey Publishing is to serve our customers by publishing practical information that encourages personal independence in harmony with the environment.
Edited by Carleen Madigan, Nancy Ringer, and Lisa Hiley
Art direction and book design by Ash Austin
Text production by Jennifer Jepson Smith
Indexed by Christine R. Lindemer, Boston Road Communications
Cover, botanical, and chapter opener illustrations by © Steve Sanford
First aid illustrations by © Arthur Mount
Text © 2021 by Sam Coffman, except for Chapter 16: Emergency Childbirth, © Katia LeMone
Ebook production by Slavica A. Walzl
Ebook version 0.0
August 17, 2021
Portions of this book previously appeared in The Herbal Medic by Sam Coffman (Herbal Medics, 2014).
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages or reproduce illustrations in a review with appropriate credits; nor may any part of this book be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or other—without written permission from the publisher.
The information in this book is true and complete to the best of our knowledge. All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of the author or Storey Publishing. The author and publisher disclaim any liability in connection with the use of this information.
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In a medical emergency, please consult a health care professional if at all possible. The information in this book is intended to be used in situations where no such professional help is available. Please follow all instructions carefully and take appropriate safety precautions to avoid further harm.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data on file
I wrote this book in memory of my father, who taught me to appreciate our natural world, and my mother, who with her passion for gardening taught me to talk to plants at a very early age.
And I dedicate it to all of my students—past, present, and future. I hope it serves you well.
Part 1: Orthodox First Aid
Chapter 1: The First Aid Kit
Supplies and Tools
Remedies (Internal and External)
Packing a First-aid Kit
Longer journey First-aid Kit
Chapter 2: Assessment of the Situation
Triangle 1: Scene Survey
Triangle 2: Primary Survey
Triangle 3: Secondary Survey
Chapter 3: Basic Skills
Sealing Wounds: Occlusive Dressings
Immobilization: Splints and Slings
Taping Techniques for Injuries
CardiopuLmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
How to Apply a Splint
Illustrated First-Aid Techniques
How to Make a Sling from a Cravat Bandage
How to Improvise a Tourniquet
How to Improvise a Compression Bandage
How to Improvise an Occlusive Dressing
How to Tape an Ankle
How to Tape to Stabilize a Knee
Part 2: Herbal First Aid
Chapter 4: Foundations of Herbalism
Paradigms of Healing
Getting Started with Plant Medicine
The Immune System
The Urinary Tract
The Respiratory Tract
The Digestive Tract
The Nervous System
Chapter 5: Making Medicine
the Right Herbs to the Right Tissues
Routes of Elimination and Metabolism
Preparing Herbs for Use
Basic Equipment for Making Medicine
Infusions and Decoctions
Tinctures and Glycerites
Setting Up a Percolation Tincture
Oils and Salves
Other Vital Components of Herbal Medicine
Using Herbal Preparations
Chapter 6: Creating Herbal Formulas
Mapping Out a Formula
20 Useful Formulas
Antibacterial Formula (Broad Spectrum)
Cold and Flu Formula
Heartburn and Digestive Upset Formula
Herpes Family Virus Formula
Immune and Lymph Support Formula
Kidney Support Formula
Musculoskeletal Pain Formula (Internal)
Musculoskeletal Pain Formula (Topical)
Poor Circulation and Heart Support Formula
Respiratory Formula (Acute)
Respiratory Formula (Allergy)
Skin Allergy Formula
Stomach Flu Formula
Toothache and Gum Pain Formula
Urinary Tract Infection Formula
Part 3: The Herbal Medic in Action
Chapter 7: Shock
Chapter 8: Wounds
Cleaning and Closing Wounds
Using Herbs to Heal Wounds
Dealing with Infection
Chapter 9: Burns
Mechanism of Injury
Treating First-Degree Burns
Treating Second-Degree Burns
Treating Third-Degree Burns
Chapter 10: Fractures
Types of Fractures
Stages of Healing
Nutrition to Assist Bone Healing
Herbs to Assist Bone Healing
Treating Soft Tissue Injuries
Dislocations and Subluxations
Chapter 11: Environmental Injuries
Hyperthermia and Heat Injuries
Hypothermia and Cold Injuries
Altitude Illness and Injuries
Chapter 12: Venoms and Poisons
Insect Bites and Stings
Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Contact Dermatitis
Chapter 13: Viral and Bacterial Infections
Herbs for Treating Colds and Flus
Herbs for Treating Shingles, HSV-1, and HSV-2
Herbs for Treating EV-D68, MERS, and SARS
Herbs for Treating Dengue Fever
Herbs for Treating Viral Gastroenteritis
An Herbal Protocol for COVID-19
Chapter 14: EENT: Eyes, Ears, Nose, and Throat
Chapter 15: Acute Care
Urinary Tract Infections
Chapter 16: Emergency Childbirth
Birth Is Normal
What to Do First
Support during Labor
The Actual Birth
After the Birth
Dealing with Hemorrhage
Dealing with a Tragic Outcome
Materia Medica for Childbirth
Part 4: Materia Medica
70 Herbs to Know
Saint John's Wort
Common and Latin Names of Materia Medica Herbs
Common and Latin Names of Herbs Not Listed in the Materia Medica
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Share Your Experience!
I remember hearing the sound of my bone breaking as I hit the ground, hands outstretched. It hadn't been a very impressive jump, but my mountain bike hit a patch of sand as I landed and over the handlebars I went. The resulting collision pulled a piece of bone away from the base of the thumb on my left hand in a classic avulsion fracture.
I had arrived at Fort Bragg a few days earlier, having made it through the Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS, or "Sore Feet and Shoulders," as we called it) and Airborne School of the qualification course for the US Special Forces. After 8 months at Fort Sam Houston in Texas training as a battlefield medic, I was facing "med lab"—a whole new level of training and experience.
This program was designed to produce the best austere medics in the military—and to wash out anyone who could not handle the pressure. ("Austere" here means operating with limited supplies and support.) More than half of my original class was already gone. This second phase would be worse. And here I was in the middle of the woods, with a broken thumb less than a week before starting the most arduous training I would ever undergo.
After several hours of denial, I went over to the med lab compound and X-rayed the thumb myself. Sure enough, I had a prominent avulsion fracture, with several millimeters of separation between the bone and the large piece that had been separated from it. At this point I realized that I needed to see a doctor, so I went to the post's hospital, where the orthopedist told me I needed surgery and would have to postpone the hands-on training. I stubbornly insisted that he just put a cast on it, because my son's third birthday was coming up and delaying my training would mean missing more time with him.
After some arguing and against the surgeon's better judgment, he agreed to put on a cast. I went back to the barracks, where I promptly cut the cast off and got a ride into town where I'd noticed a store that carried bulk herbs. I bought a pound each of comfrey (Symphytum officinale) and horsetail (Equisetum spp.).
Using big gauze pads held in place by an elastic wrap bandage, I soaked my thumb with a wet poultice of both herbs almost 24/7. When I reported for the first session of goat lab (so called because we worked on live animals), I was relieved to find myself assigned to the half of the class that was learning lab techniques rather than practicing treatment of trauma. This meant that I had a 3-week reprieve before I would have to use my broken thumb in daily trauma scenarios.
The instructors knew that I had a broken thumb and were undoubtedly just waiting to see what would happen, but I was convinced that I could make it if the thumb would heal enough to allow me some grip strength. During trauma training, we worked with goats who were fully anesthetized and then given life-threatening injuries, from blocked airways to fully eviscerated intestines spurting arterial blood. These scenarios ran all day, every day, and my thumb would ache for hours after, for example, using kung-fu grip strength with my left hand to align and expose the trachea for the scalpel in my right hand.
Thanks to the amazing tissue proliferation brought on by the comfrey and horsetail, my thumb had healed rapidly, and I continued the poultices for another month into the course. By the time I was getting ready for the next phase, I had full grip strength back and only minor pain when stretching my thumb in certain directions. To this day, I have no arthritis or pain or difference in grip strength between my right and left hands.
That injury was my rite of passage into herbal medicine. I had been interested in medicinal herbs prior to my Special Forces training, and I had studied just enough to know that comfrey and horsetail were reputed to be extremely effective in healing a broken bone. However, experiencing rapid healing myself, in a situation of very high stress, gave me a whole new level of appreciation for and trust in herbs as medicine. I continued to study herbal medicine, and it balanced all of the orthodox medicine I was learning as a Special Forces medic.
I love medicine for many reasons, but one of the biggest is the way it challenges you to keep learning. When you study medicine—whether you are in medical school or teaching yourself herbal medicine from books or anywhere in between—you are on a path that will never end for as long as you choose to follow it. More importantly, you can choose the direction you want to travel. Nobody has all the answers in the world of medicine, and you will never learn all there is to learn on this subject.
When I began to study herbal medicine in earnest, my own ways of thinking about how the body heals began to expand. My ideas about the physiology and pathophysiology of the body as it relates to herbal medicine have evolved over the years, and I work with doctors who put my ideas to the test every single day. The more they work with herbal medicine, the more they keep returning because it is so effective. Herbal medicine provides some wonderful backstops to many of the holes that exist in conventional medicine today—and these are holes not only in the actual medicine itself, but also in regard to its availability in a health care system that is filled with flaws.
Whether you read this book from cover to cover or use it as a reference by chapter, I hope that my own experiences in the world of herbal medicine over the past 30 years will prove useful.
While this is a book about herbal medicine, it fully embraces the need for a solid foundation in emergency and orthodox medicine for anyone working in health care. The heart and soul of the concept of the "herbal medic" is grounded in the idea that medicine should be as sustainable as possible, while also being accessible to everyone. The herbal medic should ideally be able to work with the medicine that grows in forests, deserts, jungles, and, of course, our own gardens. However, the herbal medic also needs a thorough understanding of disease and injury from an orthodox point of view. This is essential for acknowledging the need to seek higher medical care when a medical situation is beyond our ability to help.
However, in my experience there is a helpful application from the world of plant medicine for nearly every illness or injury. It might be herbs to help with nausea from chemotherapy, or an herbal formula that is far more effective than expensive pharmaceuticals for a viral infection. It could be herbs to help a bone fracture heal or herbs to help with the respiratory difficulty of asthma. The spectrum of health issues that can be addressed with herbal medicine is huge. So too is the spectrum of effectiveness, depending on the condition, underlying factors (e.g., nutrition, lifestyle, age, health conditions), what herbs are used, and how those herbs are used.
With that in mind, it is likely that the readers of this book will come from many backgrounds. Some may be doctors or otherwise licensed health care providers. Some may be clinical herbalists. Some may be folks who are concerned with preparedness for disaster. Some may be herbal hobbyists who are just starting on their own journey to explore plant medicine.
Whatever your background, the purpose of this book is to define and teach all aspects of being an herbal medic, both in the field and at home. Outside of basic first-aid skills, the medicine we will discuss is specifically plant medicine. I believe that the herbal medic should be prepared to be the primary caregiver not just in the first few minutes of an injury or illness but for the first few hours or days, and potentially even for weeks and maybe months, depending on the situation. That's why this book is written primarily for an audience living and working in remote locations or interested in preparing for post-disaster scenarios.
That said, a foundation of practical herbalism is also very useful around the average home, and the information provided here can be used by professionals of all background and training, from doctors, nurse practitioners, and nurses to clinical herbalists. But above all, this book is intended to help anyone and everyone who desires greater self-reliance and sustainability in their own health care.
Using This Book
You can read this book from cover to cover, and you can also use it as a reference manual. The index, glossary, and materia medica offer easy access to definitions, explanations of concepts, first-aid instructions, and plant profiles. It is impossible to teach herbal medicine concepts without first introducing certain cultural understandings and vocabulary from the world of plant medicine. This is true whether you are working with trauma, acute or chronic illness, or recovery from trauma or surgery. The first thing you must realize is that in the tradition of Western or orthodox medicine, our understanding is shaped primarily by pharmaceutical medicine.
Plant medicine arises from an entirely different context of holistic, multifaceted healing. As an example, even though aspirin is derived from constituents found in willow bark (Salix spp.), you can't simply apply willow bark in the same way you would administer aspirin. From the perspective of plant medicine, using a single constituent—in this case, salicylic acid—out of the thousands of constituents found in willow bark is nowhere near as effective as using the whole plant, understanding the mechanism of inflammation, and taking advantage of the ways in which many different herbs can work though various pathways in the body to help heal inflammation.
This book is designed to create a foundation and then build on it. Part 1 concentrates on orthodox topics such as creating first-aid kits, bandaging and splinting, and supporting musculoskeletal injuries.
Part 2 explores some of the most important aspects of working with herbs, beginning with a basic understanding of the body. How do we approach an upper respiratory tract infection versus a urinary tract infection? Can one herb have different effects on different organs? What are the most effective ways to help different types of tissue heal? How do we make medicine from herbs? What is a formula, and how do we figure out which herbs to combine for a specific formula?
Understanding the process of disease provides a foundation for understanding the larger process of working with illnesses and injuries. A well-designed healing protocol may involve not just herbal medicine but also lifestyle adjustments, nutrition, stress management, and more. As we look at organ systems, we will also talk about the causative factors in disease—in particular, chronic disease.
"As a fellow Green Beret, survivalist, and medic, I can say without a shadow of a doubt: THIS IS THE BEST BOOK OUT THERE ON THE SUBJECT... Everyone would benefit from Coffman’s wisdom and knowledge.” — Mykel Hawke, retired Special Forces Officer, Green Beret medic, and creator and star of Discovery Channel’s Man Woman Wild
"Coffman is the most gifted herbalist I've come across. His knowledge of plant lore and his understanding of human physiology and disease conditions has contributed immeasurably to the knowledge base of herbal medicine." — Steve E. Pehrson, MD, former battalion surgeon and Special Forces medic
"Herbal Medic is a must-have resource for anyone interested in using plant medicine, from the layperson to the medical professional. This book will be a vital part of my library."— Kyla Helm-Swanson, MD
“I have been aware of San Coffman’s healing work for many years and have been continually impressed with his service to those in need. This book is a welcome addition to the emerging field of the herbal treatment of serious conditions.” — Stephen Harrod Buhner, bestselling author of Herbal Antibiotics and Herbal Antivirals
- On Sale
- Aug 3, 2021
- Page Count
- 416 pages