Wilderness Cold Medicine

If you think that you need a sick day from an 8-hour job, then how do you think you are going to feel when you are struggling to survive in the wilderness and you begin to get sick?

As you know, a simple cold can make everyday simple activities into agonizing tasks. And it will only get worse when the tasks are more physically demanding and when you are exposed to the elements all day and night.

If your illness is left untreated in the wilderness, a simple cold could make you too weak to gather firewood, haul water, and look for food.  This will start a downward spiral, as you become colder, dehydrated, and hungrier your illness will grow worse and you will then be even less able to take care of your basic needs.

This could ultimately need to death from what started out as a simple cold.  But if you know what plants can treat your cold, you don’t have to suffer a slow death from a treatable illness.  One plant that can be used to treat a cold is “colt’s foot”.


  • Colt’s foot scientific name is Tussilago farfara. It has been used for thousands of years to treat colds, coughs, and sore throats.
  • It grows all around the world now. Even being considered invasive in some areas.
  • It is usually found near trails and roads which makes it even easier to find since it can be located while you are traveling.
  • It can be easily identified in the early spring because it is often the first plant to produce a flower in many areas. The flower looks similar to a dandelion, but the plant produces the flower prior to producing leaves.  So if you see what looks like a dandelion with no leaves, then it is colt’s foot.
  • The flowers can be set to steep in boiling water for about 20 minutes and the liquid can be drunk as a tea.
  • Small children and pregnant women should not consume colt’s foot since there have been cases of liver damage in infants. Though in an emergency in wilderness survival you would have to make that call at that time.

Don’t take illness lightly in the wilderness, something small will lead to something much worse if left unaddressed.  Take the simple steps necessary as soon as possible to minimize risk.

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