Improvised Medicine

An introduction by the Veridian Caballero

As a prepper it becomes easy to dream up worst case scenarios. From fires, floods and other natural disasters to man-made catastrophes such as an NBC attack, socio-economic collapse or even an EMP. It is an uncertain world we live in, that for the most part is out of our hands. But what is not out of our control is gathering the skills, tools, knowledge and mindset that we believe will give us an edge above and help us to survive the situation.

In this introduction essay I will discuss several common substances that can be used for common ailments.

In a long term survival, SHTF or WROL situation or even just massive price inflation; modern medicines are likely to become rare and valuable commodities. In the event that such items become out of your price range or even completely unavailable it would be a good idea to have some background knowledge about what can be used in a pinch, MacGyver style.

First a legal note:

I am not a physician, pharmacist or any other type of trained professional when it comes to medicines so take this article with a grain of salt, as you would from any other friend. It is YOUR responsibility to fully research for yourself the full effects and potential dangers of ingesting or dealing with ANYTHING. This article is merely to be used as ‘food for thought’ and perhaps open up your mind to other possibilities for diversification of your medical supplies. To sum it up, I claim no responsibility, legal or otherwise, for your actions after reading this. If you agree to these terms feel free to continue, if not stop right now and go blame someone for burning your hand with some McDonald’s coffee or something.

Whew. Now that that part is done, we can begin.


Natural/Improvised Antibiotics:


  • Garlic & Onions – Yes. In one way or another, Grandma turned out to be right. Garlic and to a lesser extent Onions both seem to possess antibiotic properties. Although not a modern strength antibiotic, Garlic has been shown to possess about 1%  of the effective strength of the powerful antibiotic Penicillin. (I.) So although it probably won’t do very much at all against pneumonia or other serious infections, in my experience it  helps a great deal with minor colds and flu’s. Garlic and Onion tend to be taken orally. There are supplemental pills on the market if you’re the type who hates the taste and smell of both plants, personally I just put a hardy dose of either or both into pasta!
  • Oregano – Another herbal remedy, Oregano finds it’s place in many meals around the world. Oregano Oils, sold in bottles and naturally found in the leaf contain chemicals such as thymol and carvacro which some believe inhibit the growth of certain bacteria. (II.) Again I like to add this stuff to pasta.
  • Silver – Any prepper worth his salt has at least thought of investing in silver at one point or another. When talking about the value of precious metals with friends or family someone inevitably tries to ‘point out’ the worthlessness of those metals because the only reason we like them is because they are “Shiny and Rare”. This of course is not true, besides their value as engineering materials and intrinsic value, silver in particular is known for its strong antibiotic properties. Several months ago, when I badly burned my hand on a stove I was given a burn cream that used a silver compound as it’s main antibiotic. For some time, Colloidal silver (microscopic silver particles suspended in water) was used heavily as a serum to cure many ailments (with the only major side effect being the ‘bluing’ of the skin with excessive use). There are even tales of Cowboys from the Old west placing silver coins in their canteens to help purify water, however the true effectiveness of this technique is anyone’s guess. (III)





  • Coconut water/milk – From my pacific upbringing one learns quickly not to consume too much coconut water aka ‘coconut milk’. In high doses coconuts do act as laxatives, and thus the main reason not to rely solely on such on a desert island.


  • Dandelions – Considered a weed throughout most of the world the dandelion can be made into a tea or eaten for a great laxative. I always knew these things had a purpose! (V)


For Stomach aches and Mild nausea:


  • Peppermint – Peppermint can be used for mild stomach aches and nausea. (VI) It can also be used to cure one’s smelly survivor breath!





  • Licorice – the root brewed into a tea or even some authentic licorice candy (the black kind, not the fake red stuff) can be used as an anti-diuretic. There are some people who should not use this method such as those with high blood pressure, but again, Research! (VII)


Wound cleaning:


  • Alcohol (Ethyl) – Obviously a standard most first aid kits. In a pinch, Alcohol can be distilled from any type of grain or sugar mixed with yeast. (Follow your local laws!) It is also a great anesthetic when taken orally in the appropriate doses.
  • Aloe vera – A common outdoor plant in warmer climates and a potential houseplant for colder ones. Aloe vera is touted as one of several ‘super plants’ capable of many beneficial things. In terms of wound cleaning Aloe is great for cuts and scrapes but really shines when used on burns. (VIII) You use it by cutting off a limb of the plant and using the thick green sap on the inside as a topical ointment. The only real downside; it’s sticky, might temporarily stain your skin and it kinda smells… especially if you don’t wash it off and reapply every couple of hours.

Antidotes to Nerve agents:


  • The US Military uses the chemical Atropine in order to treat otherwise fatal exposure to nerve agents. Although it’s chemical mechanism is complex the chemical’s origins are far simpler. Atropine is commonly derived from highly poisonous plants such as “Deadly nightshade” and “Jimson weed”. By NO means do I suggest EVER using these plants for anything but landscaping. However, if you are truly worried about being attacked with phosphorous based nerve agents, further research into these plants may be just the thing you were looking for. (IV)


Thank you very much and I hope you enjoyed this article while maybe learning a couple things along the way!


“Keep the blades keen, and the mags loaded!”






I. A summary of the properties of Oregano,

II. Medical uses of silver,

III. Information on Atropine as an antidote,

IV. Peppermint,

V. Natural Anti-diuretics,

VI. More Aloe info,


20 survival items ebook cover

Like what you read?

Then you're gonna love my free PDF, 20 common survival items, 20 uncommon survival uses for each. That's 400 total uses for these innocent little items!

Just enter your primary e-mail below to get your link. This will also subscribe you to my newsletter so you stay up-to-date with everything: new articles, ebooks, products and more!

By entering your email, you agree to subscribe to the Modern Survival Online newsletter. We will not spam you.


  1. Very coo, lot’s of good information in this post. I think you missed Echinacea. It’s readily and cheaply available in pill form from places like Amazon or the grocery store. It works pretty well to help fight off a cold/flu and may lessen the severity of other illnesses.

    I’ve read it should not be taken as a daily supplement because it seems diminish it’s healing properties if used over long periods of time. Take it when you might be getting sick or when your body is under stress or lack of sleep.

  2. I dont mean to be a sharpshooter, but Antibiotics do not work on viruses like the common cold or the flu. In fact using them for these issues can creat much larger peoblems. Garlic or onions may have traits that help with the common cold or flu but to say that its the antibiotic properties of the garlic and onions is not correct. Other then that i think this articale is very informative and cant wait to read your next one.

  3. Anti diarrheal
    Dried animal bones crushed into a powder then drank with water make a great anti diarrheal you can also use chalk or ash the same way.

    Anesthetic and muscle relaxer
    Nicotine can be used as a great muscle relaxer and as a mild anesthetic. If a patient has a broken bone that needs to be set which can be very painful they can use the following method. Take a cigar lightly wet the out side or uses a cooking oil to lube the cigar and insert it into the patents rectum 3-5 inches make sure there is enough hanging out to be able to remove it if the patient goes unconscious. The Nicotine in the cigar will absorb into the body at such a fast rate that the patient will feel as though they are on an opied painkiller. The muscles will relax and there sense of pain will be greatly diminished. This can also be done with about 10 cigarettes take the tobacco out place it into a porous cloth like a tea bag or coffee filter wet it and do the same thing as with the cigar. Both of them should not be left in the body longer then 30 mins. the levels of nicotine can be fatal if left in to long. If you are performing this on someone under 120 lbs (small woman or child) you should take it out before 20 mins.

    Anti Intestinal parasitic
    Nicotine can also be used as a great way to get rid of an intestinal parasite like a tape worm. Take two cigarettes take out the tobacco and eat it. The nicotine will paralyze the worms and allow your body to pass them. If it does not work the first time wait 24-48 hrs and try again.

    A great way to hydrate a dehydrated unconscious patient is what is called a ranger IV. Assuming you do not have the supplies to do a normal IV in the arm you can make a “Beer bong” a 2 foot length of hose with a funnel at the end. Lubricate the hose end and place it in the unconscious rectum 5-7inches in. then allow about 1 liter of water to flow into the body. The patient will absorb this water even faster then if the patient was drinking it. A small Diameter hose will work best; it will slow the rate at which the water enters. To make this work even better you can added a tablespoon of salt to the water and let it dissolve. This will help the patients electrolytes go up and help the body retain the water for longer.

  4. Just as a minor addition, peppermint is also useful as a natural stimulant. It will refresh and waken one. I learned this from fellow instructors – student presentations are BORING, but you don;t want to fall asleep, tends to have negative affect on learning. We chew peppermint gum. Also when resting is not an alternative, or the drive is just plain boring, peppermint gum helps to keep one awake.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.