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"Natures Medications" By Rolly A. Chabot

Updated on December 9, 2012


Welcome again to the Fireside. Now that Nano Write is all behind us I have found my way back to the keyboard. This year was a successful year as I completed a full 146,000 words and it looks like I will be able to use it as novel series. I know I have a great deal of editing to do.

We have dipped in temperature here again. This will be a long winter for us because it started just before Halloween and we have had snow the entire time. My in floor heating system failed me and I think I have it repaired now. It heats all the developed basement and garage and it has been missed.

Many over the years have suggested I share a little wilderness medicine with them. For those who do not know me I spent several years living in isolation in the far reaches of the Yukon Territory here in Canada. I was somewhat adopted into the Cree Native Culture where I learned much of what nature provides. Thus I thought I would make an attempt at something most of us have access too. Evergreen trees such as the Fir, Spruce and Pine.

They are an abundant source of many natural remedies most people are not aware of. We had one particular species which was very abundant. Most often it would be the first I would go to for my needs. Gather around while I attempt to recall what I know about what the tree can give. Welcome to the Fireside and know that you are loved here.

Many Uses


It provides All

Lets stop and take a look in the forest or a single tree and see what it gives to all who choose to stop and visit. Homes for many creatures, big and small. It can act as a huge umbrella during a rain storm. Notice how the base of a tree is always dry from the drip line or branches inward to the trunk. A great place to have a dry bed during a rain storm. A shelter ready made for you.

Should you get tired when you are out hiking stop and lean up against a tree with your back touching the tree and in a few minutes you will be rejuvenated from the energy it produces.

In the evergreen family there are so many benefits I will list a few here just so you have an idea. They truly are remarkable, living and offering much of themselves for us and we can take without doing any great harm to them. Most often the smaller inhabitants will just scold us.

Chewing Gum


Chewing Gum and Antiseptic

Dried spruce gum peeled off of a tree looks very unappetizing and yet it has many qualities most people overlook. When you first place it into your mouth and start to chew it you will find it to be very granular and maybe if a bit distasteful. Fear not it will get better.

Chew the gum for several minutes not spitting and allow the gum and the saliva to mix well. Eventually the gum softens. Now you may spit. Do this a few more times spitting occasionally. It will become very pliable it will become more and more pleasant to the taste. Feel free to swallow now. The gum has many great qualities and is an internal antiseptic for your mouth, teeth and yes even your digestive tract.

After awhile it will start to become granulated again and you can discard it. No need to worry about saving wrappers and it will not stick to a sidewalk. It could likely be called the first gum ever known to man. The best part is you know where it has come from and it is free.


Juniper Berries

They are fairly common in the outdoors. They have a multitude of uses. My favorite is for an upset stomach or yes even a headache. They can be picked directly from the shrub. They are generally a grey/purple in colour and are easily accessible.

Two or three popped under your tongue and you only need to wait a few minutes and what ever ails you will be gone. A word of caution do not bite down on them. They are generally very bitter and will leave you with a very nasty taste in your mouth for the longest while.

On a hot day slip a few into your mouth and just flip them back and forth across your tongue and your thirst will subside somewhat. The needles when they are young and a lighter green can be used for making tea. Just boil water and toss in a spoonful of crushed needles and allow it to steep. This as well can be used to cure a headache very quickly.

If you have a toothache slip a half a dozen needles in along the infection and it will rid you of the infection.


The Evergreen

Spruce gum can also be used as a throat lozenge for coughs and sore throats. It can be drank as a hot tea or the sap simply sucked on. Sap contains many properties mainly as an antiseptic but also an analgesic and if boiled over a low heat source can be used as a vaporizer with a towel over your head. If you lungs are congested they will soon clear.

One thing I found to be amazing is if you have a stubborn sliver which most of us get is to place a drop of fresh resin on the wound and it will draw the sliver out painlessly within a few hours, at the same time acting as an antiseptic.

Young needles in the spring are and excellent source of vitamin C when drank as a tea. It is a very potent form of vitamin C and should be drank only once a day. The needles will sink to the bottom eventually. Natural sources of sweetener like honey can be added if the taste is too bitter.


Gum Salve

I found this recipe from my old Yukon cook book and it works better than anything I have ever found for a wound, old scar tissue and an itch. It can be diluted to the consistency that works for you and or the application. Just mix them all together and cook it slowly over a flame and allow each ingredients to blend together. After a few hours strain the contents into a jar and seal it.

1/4 cup of beeswax (Not Paraffin Wax.)

1/3 of a cup of sap, crystallized or fresh.

One cup of pure Olive Oil.

A Tablespoon of Kosher or Sea Salt

1/3 of a cup of Lichen. The best is the moss that grows on Spruce called Usnea.

This recipe can be played with a little depending on your personal preferences. The Natives in the far north have many mixtures and varieties they use. The first real test for me was once I had severally burned my hand in the backwoods and immediately applied this. The burn was bad enough it should have blistered badly but two days later my skin was completely healed.


Acorn Coffee

Acorns can be picked directly off of the tree or harvested off the ground. It is a good idea to rinse them off and wrap them loosely in tinfoil. Place them on the rocks close to a fire or on top of a wood burning stove for a few days. After a few hours you will hear the snapping and they will expand and open up, sending the young seeds out inside the tin foil. Only pick the ones that are still closed.

It does take several cones to make a pot of coffee but be patient the taste is well worth it. By sitting close to the fire they take on a natural roasted flavour. Open the package and give the expanded cones a good shake saving all the seeds. Once you have a half a cup or so crush them and dump your bounty into a pot of boiling water.

Be careful as it may boil over on you. Just set the pot off to the side and allow it to cook on its own. A few minutes later you have a lovely nutty tasting coffee that will refresh you. It almost has a okra taste to it.



Usnea Lichen

In the Cree Native language it is called "Astâskamkwa." We have seen it growing and hanging from trees. The natives used it to line the inside of baby carriers because of its insulating properties from the cold. Yet another use it is absorbent.

It provides a great lining for birds and their nests. Moose, Deer and Woodland Caribou treat it as a source of food and it is extremely high in protein and is readily available. Go into an area where the lower branches have been picked clean and you know there is game close by.

Usnea can be harmful to some humans as it contains some nettles that are hard to spot with the naked eye. Recent studies have shown it can have an adverse effect on the urinary track if ingested. I would avoid taking it internally. It can however be used as a poultice dressing for infection or even an open wound. Gather as mush as you think you will need. Boil it for a few minutes and apply it to the area as hot as you can stand it and wrap it. You will feel it drawing immediately. Remove it after a few hours. Apply it every few days and before long you will see the results.

Usnea has many uses. One of my favorites is as a fire starter. Take a small amount of the whiter coloured moss and place in in a nest with a few small dry twigs. With a flint and steel one small spark will set it ablaze. It has a natural accelerant that will catch. Matches and a small magnifying glass, even bifocal glasses and sunshine will ignite it quickly. It burns very quickly so be ready to add more fuel right away. In the case of a wildfire crowning from one tree to the next usnea is usually the culprit for fuelling the flame.


Hug a Tree

Do I like trees you may ask? Over the years they have brought much comfort in the log homes they have built for me. Heat in te winter months. They give shade on a hot day, protection from the elements. Yes I do like trees. They are living and give life. all likelihood they have built the home you find yourself in today. They are a great renewable resource which have provided millions with and income over the years. But again a resource which we need to manage properly.

There are many other functions trees have in our everyday lives we forget about. The clean the air we breath, provide nourishment to the younger trees as they die off and much we still are to discover.

The best part of hugging a tree is when you find one like this I found myself sitting in last summer that hugs you right back.

© Rolly A. Chabot


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    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Morning Gus ... sorry I have not gotten back here sooner. Thanks for stopping in at the Fireside and leaving a comment. I agree with you trees are amazing. Hearing of your work and going back after so many years to visit them is wonderful.

      Rolly in Canada

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 5 years ago from USA

      Howdy Rolly (Rolly A. Chabot) -

      I went for this article because I thought it might remind me of my days working in reforestation for the New York State Conservation Department in the foothills to the south of Central New York. When we planted those thousands of evergreen seedlings (mostly Scotch pines) they were wee little things, maybe 6 or so inches tall. When I viewed them again after about 30 years, they towered high above me. Trees, as your article describes, are really wonderful organisms.

      Gus :-)))

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi again Mary... what a pleasure to see you and have you visit again. Yes life has been good to me in many ways. It is a life long learning process. The mind and body should never be well except for sleep and just sitting still and taking in the sounds of our surroundings.

      I agree Hub Pages has been a great place to leave our thoughts and a wonderful family has been formed...

      Hugs again from Canada

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Ruchira ... thank you for stopping and spending some time at the Fireside. I have been asked to do a series on these sorts of unknown secrets. I will likely be calling it "Wilderness Wisdom."

      There is a wealth of resources out in nature for our health. Some we just need to get our head around doing them.

      Hugs from Canada

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Lynda... glad you stopped in a said hello and I truly do hope some day you do get to visit the Yukon. It is enchanting and captivating and holds a special place in my heart. Back in those days it was still considered to be somewhat of a last frontier.

      Sadly times have changed and civilization has settled in. Even so the lure is still there.

      Hugs from the West

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Absolutely amazing and so interesting and helpful. What a wonderful life you have had and so many interesting things you have learned. I'm so glad Hubpages is here so that you can share them with us!

      Voted up, useful, and awesome.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 5 years ago from United States

      Wow seriously...Rolly.

      These natural cures sound so appealing. Loved this hub.

      Useful, interesting and sharing it across.

    • craiglyn profile image

      Lynda 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Rolly, if I am ever in the Yukon I will be prepared and know what to do. So much from the native indians has come down through the ages, and I love that you have put a lot of it together here. And I love trees - I do. When you spoke of the energy in a tree trunk, I got it. There is nothing more serene and peaceful than walking through a forest. Thank you so much for this beautiful hub. Big hugs to you from Ontario.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Heh Lifegate... great to see you here... lets set up right on the border and catch them coming and going... at the end of the day we can share a great cup of pine needle tea...

      Hugs and Blessings as always.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Tip... so pleased to hear that I have stirred some memories of the mountains with you. They always seem so far off when we are away from them. They are so majestic and have so much to offer for the outdoor enthusiast. A playground for

      Glad you were able to pick up on a few things. If the tea is too bitter, toss in a little honey and enjoy... keep an eye on the top of the mountain... that old guy waving may just be me.

      Hugs from Canada

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi RC... great to see you again and glad to hear I have stirred some of those great old memories. One good rule of thumb in the woods is to remember if it tastes bitter... best not eat it.

      Stay clear of any small game that feeds on carrion of rotting flesh... grubs and beetles and such can keep you alive and well. Of course that may be telling a little to much but when you are lost, hungry and have nothing else you will eat pretty much anything to get some nutrients. "Yes and be sure not to eat any yellow snow."

      Hugs from Canada

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Alicia... Glad you enjoyed this. I have been searching through a few old journals I kept years back in hopes to find one I kept specifically on all nature can provide... like all those things you set aside and hope someday to use... That was probably 20 moves ago. I will keep digging.

      Hugs from Canada

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Tim... thanks for the visit and the comment and you are so right. Living off the land with people of wisdom like I had at the time was very rewarding. He does provide for all our needs...

      Hugs from Canada

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 5 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      I'm thinking about becoming a survivalist - lol :).

    • tlpoague profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from USA

      Checking out your pictures has reminded me how much I miss being in the mountains. I learned a few new things too. I didn't know about the gum sap or making tea from the needles. I have always loved camping and spending time walking in the forest. I have to agree, leaning up against a tree is rejuvenating. Over the last few years I have had a fascination with alternative medication and how herbs and plants have so many healing properties. You have posted some very helpful information here that I will be sure to bookmark. I would love to read your mini series when you get them posted. I vote for the Wilderness Wisdom. I think it works wonderfully with your Fireside Chats. Thanks for taking the time to share your pictures, knowledge, and stories.

      Blessings from my winter wonderland,

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Morning Silvergenes... Thanks for the visit and the comment and yes even the suggestion. I do have a book I have started with many rough stories of cures and wilderness experience.

      I will be making it a project over the next few years because it does require pictures and drawings of plants and or construction of survival shelters and equipment. It is a huge task.

      I may start a shorter mini series here. Need a name for it... been toying with Wilderness Wisdom... ?

      Be sure and boil up a lobster for me at Christmas... Hugs

      Hugs from Snowy Alberta

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Pamela... Thanks for the sunshine wishes but afraid it has gone into hiding again for the next few days... we have a blizzard happening outside right now. It has its own beauty though. New snow brightens things nicely.

      The Cree Indians are special people who have a unique relationship with the earth and their creator. Much can be learned from them. I was blessed to be accepted.

      Hugs and Blessings from Canada

    • rcrumple profile image

      Rich 5 years ago from Kentucky

      Rolly -

      This is a tremendous amount of information concerning natural remedies and such. It sounds as though you've been talking to a very knowledgeable medicine man. My hesitation lies within my ability to recognize what is what out in the woods. Even growing up in the country as a child decades ago doesn't allow one to recall much when the city has been home. I haven't been up in a tree for years, but I remember spending much time climbing them when I was young with images of playing soldier and cowboys in mind. lol Great post!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This hub is so interesting, Rolly! I love finding remedies for ailments in nature. Thank you for all the information and for the very enjoyable hub.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Faith Reaper... good to see you again... glad to hear you are going to try some suggestions. Southern USA tells me likely you are in Oak and Cedar tree country. Oak gum has a nutty taste to it, Cedar is very bitter... just a warning... smiles... Have fun out there... God Bless

      Hugs from Canada

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Morning Sheila... Awesome to see you here again and great you took the time to read my ramblings. You are right nature is an amazing place and so much can be learned. I re-read you bio again and you and hubby are truly blessed with what you have all around you. Checked out your websites again and some very impressive work you are doing... enjoy leaning against a tree and getting refreshed.

      Hugs from Canada

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Good Morning Billy and Bev... Great to see you drop in. Glad you enjoyed the read, hopefully you have found something here to try while you two are out climbing in the back country. Just remember the man always is the first to try something new... have fun and Merry Christmas and the best in the New Year to you both...

      Know you are loved from Canada

    • tim kenner profile image

      tim kenner 5 years ago from Greater Orange County

      Great hub, really enjoyed your discoveries and the healing properties in nature. God gave us everything we could ever need and it's all around us, tree's so majestic and beautiful and healing properties too, wow, thanks Rolly for a great informative hub!

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Morning Audra... Thanks for stopping at the Fireside and saying hello. I would love to take Micah for a hike... smiles.

      I think far to often people are afraid of the wilderness mainly because they have not learned to live with it. To walk through it is one thing but to live with it is another. Nothing like simply stopping, looking and listening. She has much to teach. When left alone she will teach perfect harmony.

      Hugs from Canada

    • profile image

      SilverGenes 5 years ago

      I'd love to see a whole book about this! Not only is it packed with information, the photos make it almost as good as being in the woods. I'd like to try that coffee, too... and the salve.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

      Good morning Rolly, This is a very interesting hub and living with the Cree Indians taught you many things. That is certainly an experience most of us don't ever receive. I enjoyed you hub very much. I wish you some sunshine from FL. God Bless and hugs.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      I will try your suggestion next time. There are a lot of forests here in southern USA to venture out into. Hugs from southern USA

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi FaithReaper... Thanks for the lovely comment and reading this. There many uses for pine needles and fighting infections is a wonderful cure. Next time you re out walking and feel a little tired try resting up against a tree for a few minutes... you will be amazed at the way you feel.

      Hugs from Canada

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      Very insightful, useful and beautiful hub here. Learned a lot. Really surprised about the relief of toothache pain!

      Thanks for sharing all of these natural medications with us here.

      Excellent and beautiful photos.

      Voted up+++ and shared

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi CriSp... smiles and thank you for the compliment and sharing this. After many years in the North it was amazing at what was right at our fingertips for so many common needs.

      Glad to hear you have some knowledge of the wilderness. Is it important, you bet it is. One can never tell where you may find yourself.

      I was a survival training officer for zone 5 in the Search and Rescue here in Alberta for a number of years and soon learned people were not prepared, sadly often finding the end result not what we as a team were hoping for, especially when the resources were so close at hand for these people.

      Hugs from Canada

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 5 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      This is a wonderful hub! I am a big nature lover and appreciate everything nature has to give to us. I love finding learning more about the wisdom of Native Americans. I hope things such as you have taught us here never fade away. I hope their culture and wisdom stays strong and is passed on for generations to come. You are very lucky to have such a relationship! Voting up and awesome! :)

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Carol... I found it to be exciting to spent the time I did with the Natives in the North. It is with calm respect they share their wisdom understanding and caring for what is given to them. These trees are non pharmaceutical. Nothing but the purest of pure and best of al they are there for us to enjoy.

      Thanks for the comment and the share...

      Hugs from Canada

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Fascinating information my friend, and quite useful. I will be using a couple of these suggestions for sure. I wish you a happy holiday season, and good luck with that heater and winter. You are a good man, Rolly, and I learn from you with each of your writings.

      blessings from Oly


    • profile image

      AudraLeigh 5 years ago

      Rolly, I think Micah would really enjoy hiking with you! You are mindful of what nature really has to offer! I am amazed how valuable trees are to help us heal! Love that recipe too! Lovely scenic photographs and the cute squirrel too! This is wonderful Rolly!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      What a very beautiful and informative hub you have written here. I am amazed at all the wonderful natural medications or remedies you have shared with us all. That toothache one really surprised me, especially with it taking away the infection too!

      Really loved your "Provision," and stating in that last sentence, "Welcome to the Fireside and know that you are loved here." Really very lovely indeed.

      Love all of your photos . . . excellent.

      Voted up+++ and sharing

      In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Hello Rolly, this is a very interesting hub packed with useful and evergreen information.

      Great addition to my knowledge of survival in the wilderness (as an FA). I will keep this in mind specially the juniper berries ability to quench thirst and other benefits.

      Nice photo of you to complement this awesome hub.

      Thank you for sharing. Voting up, useful, interesting and sharing.

      Keep warm.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      what a wonderful hub. Trees are not only beautiful they have curative powers. Most of this I had not a clue about. Great hub and it is going in my bookmarking department, voting up and sharing and sharing on pinterest.


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