From marijuana to catnip, there are hundreds of remarkably common herbs, flowers, berries and plants that serve all kinds of important medicinal and health purposes that might surprise you: anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, insect repellent, antiseptic, expectorant, antibacterial, detoxification, fever reduction, antihistamine and pain relief. Here are eighteen potent medical plants you’re likely to find in the wild – or even someone’s backyard – that can help with minor injuries, scrapes, bites and pains.
Seriously. Though marijuana is still illegal in the United States, it is legal in 12 states for medicinal purposes, and if a case of poison ivy in the woods isn’t a medicinal purpose, what is? Marijuana was *mostly* legal until 1970 when it became classified as a hard drug. No one thought of it as a dangerous or illicit drug until the 20th century; in fact, hemp was George Washington’s primary crop and Thomas Jefferson’s secondary crop. The Declaration of Independence is written on it; the Gutenberg Bible was printed on hemp, too. There’s actually an environmental dimension to legalizing marijuana – hemp is a remarkable and renewable plant, offering all kinds of foodstuff and product uses that surpass cotton and plastic. But health benefits are well documented, from depression and anxiety relief to reduced blood pressure, pain alleviation and glaucoma treatment. It is not addictive, does not kill brain cells and is not a “gateway” drug – in fact, when pot is more available, studies show that the use of hard drugs like heroin and cocaine actually decreases. The bottom line for hikers: when your leg is broken from a misjudged boulder hopping attempt (pain) and a bear has eaten your friend (depression) and you’re lost because you forgot the compass (dumbass), consult the cannabis.