The Pharmacy Around Us – Part 2, by Jen R.

(Continued from Part 1.)


Why you want it:  With actions similar to penicillin and amoxicillin, it is used for treating cholera, acute dysentery, diarrhea, E. coli, infected wounds, giardia, and yeast infections.

While there are not as many uses for extracts from berberine plants as for juniper and Usnea, a berberine tincture is still very nice to have on hand in case of cholera or giardia.  The most common plants high in berberine content are Japanese barberry, Oregon grape, Nandina domestica, Hydrastis canadensis, and Phellodendron amurense (not to be confused with the common philodendron houseplant).  And you’ve probably got some growing near your home or in a local shopping center parking lot.  Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) is extremely common in the West as a landscaping shrub.  In the East, it propagates like blackberries and raspberries, which is to say it is very invasive.  Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium) and Nandina domestica, also both very popular landscaping ornamentals.  Medicine from all of these plants is equally effective.  It’s extracted from the roots of the first four species listed; however, from the latter, Phellodendron amurense, the medicine is extracted from the inner bark.

To make the medicine, first target which plants you will be using.  (Don’t do this on private property unless our society has truly collapsed.)  Check for berberine content by scratching off the outer bark of one of the lower branches.  The inner bark has to be yellow.  If there is no yellow, the plant does not have adequate levels of berberine, and you should move on to another plant.  In the fall dig up the roots of any of the above-listed plants or use the inner bark from Phellodendron amurense.  Japanese barberry roots are going to be quite tough, and it would be best to cut them into 0.5 to 1 inch pieces before they dry.  Oregon grape roots aren’t so difficult, so if you’ve got the option, go with Oregon grape.

Tincture: Tincture the dried root in a 1:5 ratio (1 part herb by weight to 5 parts alcohol by volume) in 50 percent alcohol (100-proof vodka is a good choice). The dosage is 10-60 drops, 3 times per day, or more in acute gastrointestinal conditions. Because we have a very well developed pharmaceutical industry in this country, berberine just isn’t used all that much in the US.  Very little information is available on dosages to treat various conditions.

  • A clinical trial in India showed that berberine in a dosage of 10 mg/kg/day was as effective as metronidazole in treating giardia.
  • Berberine controls enterotoxigenic E. coli completely.
  • Berberine works to some degree in treating cholera. (However, when combined with pomegranate bark or peel or geranium root, berberine is completely effective in eliminating cholera.)
  • Vaginal yeast infections: Use two teaspoons in one pint of water; douche once or twice per day.
  • A water extract can be used to treat eyes infected with Chlamydia trachomatis.

Berberine is synergistic with fluconazole, ampicillin, and oxacillin.


Stephen Harrod Buhner, Herbal Antibiotics, pp 158-178.


Why you want it:  Sugar is the perfect topical antibiotic for open wounds.  It is absolutely the easiest antibiotic to store and use.  What we don’t use for medicine we can always eat.  You can’t overdose the patient.  There are no side effects.  There’s no work in gathering and harvesting and processing (unless you have to grow your own sugar beets).  It’s couldn’t be any easier.  What you want is regular white granulated sugar, and most preferably pure cane sugar, or sugar you have produced from your own sugar beets.  (Over 95% of the sugar beets in this country are contaminated with Roundup.)

Sugar has been used for millennia to treat wounds, but in the modern era with the advent of modern medicine, we lost that knowledge.  It took an African doctor working in a hospital in the UK to restore this knowledge to us.  As a resident he was assigned to work with many patients with chronic wounds, some infected, and some infected with MRSA.  With all the medicines available, these wounds weren’t healing.  After being there awhile, he finally asked why the doctors weren’t using the treatment his tribal doctor grandfather had used on his patients in Africa.  Why weren’t they using sugar?  Physicians at his hospital naturally found the idea ridiculous, but the young man persisted, and eventually an in vitro study was conducted, followed by clinical trials.  The rest is history.

All the wounds healed, even wounds that were years old, in an average of 11 days, and even wounds that were infected with MRSA or Staphylococcus aureus.

Sugar works really well for a number of reasons:

  • Sugar is an acid.It’s a strong enough acid to dissolve tooth enamel, and it works just as well on external wounds.  The acidic environment it creates is so strong that bacteria cannot grow.  They are killed almost immediately.  The bad odor produced by bacteria in a wound dissipates as soon as sugar is applied.
  • Sugar is an anesthetic.Remember getting lollipops at the doctor’s office after getting your shots as a child?  While the lollipop helps a little, it works a bit better when given before the shot is administered.  The pain relieving effect is more marked with external wounds.  That pain reduction makes the patient feel better, which facilitates a greater sense of well-being and results in reduced stress on the body.
  • Sugar absorbs fluid.It draws the fluid in the tissue out, keeping it dry and further promoting healing.

So how do you use sugar to kill bacteria and promote healing?  Apply sugar directly and liberally to abrasions, burns, and oozing chronic or acute wounds.  If the sugar is immediately soaked up, apply more and keep adding sugar until it does not get absorbed.  Cover with a bandage or gauze and tape in place.  Change the dressing every 48 hours, without washing out or removing the sugar, as that will also remove the new tissue that is forming.  Just keep adding more sugar on top.  Continue until the wound is completely healed.




Why you want it:  Like many items, honey has dozens of medicinal uses, but the scope of this article is limited to specific antibacterial and antiviral uses.

When used as an antibiotic, honey is employed in much the same manner as sugar and for the same conditions and reasons.  The acidic pH of the honey kills all bacteria, even MRSA bacteria. Honey is the go-to treatment for burns, including third-degree burns, when there is no advanced medical care available.  This is not only due to its ability to promote healing, but especially for its ability to prevent infection from developing.

After cooling the burn with running water for 15 minutes, apply a very thick layer of honey to cover the entire burn and spread beyond the edges.  Then cover the honey with cling plastic wrap or a waterproof dressing and tape in place.  Change the dressing at least every eight hours, or as often as the dressing fills with oozing fluid.  Add more honey as needed, always providing a thick layer that extends beyond the edges of the burn.  Continue for seven to ten days, or more if needed, and do not wash the honey off for at least twenty days, unless the burn has healed.

Manuka and Medihoney are often promoted as being the only honey fit for medicinal use, but the reality is that any pure, raw honey may be used (unless the honey is from some particular species of rhodendrons in Nepal).  While Manuka is what is most frequently used in clinical trials, Dr. Joe Alton (author of The Survival Medicine Handbook), Dr. Cynthia Koelker (author of Armageddon Medicine), and the doctors teaching the off-grid medicine classes I attended (one is offered through OnPoint Tactical, one of the supporters of the Survivalblog writing contenst) all agree that any raw honey works just fine.  I even asked one of the physicians about some of my honey that was over forty years old and completely crystallized.  He responded that as long as the honey was pure and raw, there was no problem at all.

Note.  Honey should never be given to children under the age of twelve months for any reason.




Why you want it:  The common blackberry exhibits both antibacterial and antiviral actions.  Blackberry tea is one of the most powerful antivirals for treating diarrhea and dysentery.

As the chemical constituents are produced in different parts of the blackberry plant, the products derived from the plants are not necessarily interchangeable.  Dehydrated blackberries are great for treating dysentery, but they won’t do anything for whooping cough.

Blackberry leaves.  For maximum medicinal benefit, blackberry leaves are harvested in the spring, quickly rinsed (do not soak), and dried.  Store in a dark cabinet.

Tea:  To prepare a tea, steep 2-3 teaspoons of the crushed leaf in 1 cup of hot water for 6-8 minutes.  Use this to treat diarrhea, thrush, and the spasmodic phase of whooping cough.

Decoction:  Add a handful of dried leaves to one quart of water and boil until reduced by half.  Drink ¾ of a cup every six hours for whooping cough.  For vomiting with diarrhea and cramping, drink ¾ of a cup sweetened with honey every six hours.

Blackberry roots.  For maximum medicinal benefit, blackberry roots are harvested in the fall.  Rinse them well, cut them into small pieces, one-inch or less, and dry.

Tea: To make a tea, place four ounces of ground blackberry root in a jar and cover with a quart of boiling water; steep overnight.  Drink one cup every four hours to treat dysenteryand diarrhea, especially due to enterovirus 71, rotavirus, and norovirus.  Increase dosage and repeat if the diarrhea is not substantially improved within 24 hours.


Stephen Harrod Buhner, Herbal Antibiotics, pp 48, 58, 361, 377.

Stephen Harrod Buhner, Herbal Antivirals, pp 120-121.

(To be concluded tomorrow, in Part 3.)



    1. Sterilize 6 pint mason jars, lids and bands. Cool to room temp. Keep all other utensils sterile. With sterilized spoon scoop straight into original packaging of Sambucas nigra (dried elderberries) and fill each jar 1/3 full. Pour 80 proof unflavored vodka (any inexpensive brand) to fill up remaning 2/3 space in jar. Leave 1/8″ head space. top with lids, then apply bands snugly. Place on dark shelf away from light or a heat source. They’ll stay there a minimum of 14 days, maximum of 21 days. Shake the jars once a day very well. Then after the time required sieve the berries and separate the juice into a clean bowl. Press the berries to extract as much juice as possible. Pour your filtered juice back into the jars , rinse clean the lids, reapply and tighten the bands back on the jars. Label jars with date and contents. Do not can as the heat will kill the anti-viral properties of the tincture. Storr in a cool, dry place for a few years. Take 1 to 2 Tablespoons 1 to 4 times a day when needed.
      I got this off the internet several years ago and have made and used it.

    2. Elderberry Syrup

      2 cups water
      1 cup dried elderberries or 2 cups fresh elderberries
      1 cup raw honey

      Simmer water and elderberries in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat for 30 minutes.

      Remove pan from heat and mash the elderberries.

      Strain the mixture using a fine strainer, cheesecloth, or even a coffee filter.

      Discard the pulp.

      When the temperature of the berry juice drops below 100 degrees, stir in the honey.

      Store in a canning jar in the refrigerator.

      1. In case anyone wants to be more efficient by mixing the raw honey with water in the beginning – DON’T. The enzymes in raw honey are destroyed by heat. That is why the mixture has to be cooled below 100 degrees before adding raw honey.

    1. Hi Cooked Frog,

      She means, I think, that you do not want to be trespassing on someone else’s property to obtain the plant roots unless society has collapsed and no-one is in residence on said private property. If you find these plants in the cities towns and suburbs most likely they are being used for landscaping. If you have these plants on your own private property by all means harvest them.

      We happen to have these plants growing wild here on our ranch which is rather cool to learn more about ways to use them for health purposes. Thank You Jen R for writing this article. It will be a blessing for many in the near future, I am sure.



    2. Avalanche Lily got it exactly right. I’m sorry I wasn’t a bit more clear on that. Of course, there is always the potential for pesticide and herbicide use on commercial landscaping as well.

      Thank yo so much for your kind comments, Lily.

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