14 Survival Trees You Can Forage For Medicine

14 Survival Trees You Can Forage For Medicine

Perhaps most people think of herbs, when it comes to creating natural medicinal products.

However, the world is surrounded by plenty of trees that can also be used to make powerful medicines to help aid in our health, without destroying the tree.

The first step in creating these medicinal options is to identify which trees can help produce products to be used in aiding our health.

But before I share the types of trees and their benefits, there are a few things to consider first, before jumping in full throttle.

A Guideline to Foraging

Before you start, you should do some research on good tips in coming up with the most productive product that will help you and your family… and preserve nature as best you can.

For example, take a look at these tips:

  • When it comes to removing bark, it’s best to remove it from a dead branch, rather than on the tree trunk. Lost bark on a trunk can lead to an infestation of unwanted pests or diseases.

    Knife cutting bark off a tree.
  • Use the ⅓ rule; ⅓ to harvest, ⅓ for wildlife, and ⅓ to reproduce.
  • Make sure you are 100% certain on the identity of the tree.
  • Do not waste nature, just use the amount it takes to create your product and leave the rest to thrive.

There are other tips and guidelines you can probably come up with along the way as you make your medicinal product. If so, share them with us all!

Various Ways to Use a Tree for Medicinal Products

Both bark and leaves of a tree can be used for making medicinal products. For example, take a look at the following:

If you are using leaves, simmer about 2 teaspoons in 1 cup of water, for approximately 20 minutes. If you plan on using it as a foot soak or wound wash, make the solution stronger by doubling the amount of leaves used.

Bark shavings on a plate.

To make teas from bark, you can simmer 2 teaspoons of bark per 1 cup of water for about 20 minutes.

Make sure to strain it before drinking. Leftover teas can be stored in an airtight glass container, and stored in the fridge up to a week.

To make a salve, steep the leaves or bark in warm oil, for about 15-20 minutes, then strain it. Melt some beeswax over a hot water bath, then add 3 tablespoons of the wax for every 1 cup of the oil.

Types of Trees and How to Use Them

Here are 14 different trees and how they can be used to help with your health:


The leaves and bark can be used to make tea, which can be good to wash wounds, aid with tonsillitis, fever, or dry up breast milk. The sap can help relieve itching.

You can make bags from cheesecloth and fill them with warmed leaves to help with chronic skin issues.


Apple trees and their fruit can be used in many ways, such as…

  • The bark can be used to make tea, which could help with fevers.
  • The fruit is rich in iron, magnesium, potassium, and Vitamins B, B2, and C and can be used to aid in both diarrhea (eating peeled apples) and constipation (stewed and unpeeled).
  • Consumed on a regular basis, apples have been known to enhance restful sleep.

    Apples in baskets.

  • Apples can help clean the liver by reducing the acidity in the stomach.
  • Raw apple cider can help correct and restore bacteria in the bowels, after taking a course of antibiotics.
  • If you add horseradish and garlic to apple cider, you can either drink it, or use it as an external wash to help clear the skin.


The leaves and tips of the twigs from the spring growth of ash trees are sometimes used to make tea, which can be used as a laxative.

It can also help with jaundice, gout, or rheumatism.


Use the bark to make tea to help with the following:

  • Lung ailments, such as tuberculosis
  • Cleanse the blood
  • As a wash for poison ivy

You can also use the leaves in poultices for frostbite or burns.


The bark of a black birch is on the sweet side, and the yellow birch tends to have a wintergreen flavor.

Peeling birch bark off a tree.

A twig or leaf can be used to make tea to aid in the following:

  • Constipation
  • Oral sores
  • Bladder and kidney sediments
  • Gout
  • Rheumatic pain

Make it stronger and more of it, to soak in a bath to help with skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema.


Tea produced from the twigs and bark of a cedar tree is high in vitamin C.

It’s often used for treating chest colds, fevers, the flu, and rheumatic pain.


The berries of an elder can be used to make a tea that can help benefit the blood and lungs. The elder tree can also help with…

  • The leaves can be used to make a salve or poultice for healing the skin.
  • Root bark tea can help clear congestion and relieve headaches.
  • Used in a tincture, the flowers of the tree help to lower a fever by inducing perspiration.

    Elder flower seeds

  • The flowers are also used to create a special water to help with sunburn or blemishes.
  • Cold tea made from the flowers can help reduce inflammation, when placed on the eyes.
  • Elderflower oils can be used to make soothing balms.

Slippery Elm

People have used the Slippery Elm tree medicinally, in the following ways:

  • As a paste, it can be applied to flesh wounds, or directly on the abdomen to help draw out a fever.
  • Made into a tea, it can aid in healing bones.
  • The powdery bark added to water can turn into a jelly, which can help soothe urinary and bowel complaints, as well as sore throats.


The leaves and bark from maple trees have been used to make teas and poultices, to help treat the following:

Hand peel tree bark off tree

  • Sore eyes
  • Diarrhea
  • Swollen limbs
  • Kidney infections
  • Colds and coughs
  • Bronchitis

The leaves of a young maple can also be used to make massage oil, which when used can help soothe sore muscles.


Internal remedies are best made from white oak, where any oak can help with external washes. The bark and leaves have tannins, which can have antiviral and antiseptic properties.

White oak bark teas, in particular, can be beneficial in treating the following:

  • Chronic mucus discharges
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Sore throats

And white oak also can be made into a gargle to soothe sore throats, or a wash for issues with the skin such as burns, poison ivy, and other wounds.


As an evergreen, the pine tree is often more easy to access all year round in colder climates. And that is great, because it can be beneficial in making homemade antiseptics, which can be used as a wound wash.

Pine tree in hand

Also, the needles and twigs, especially from the white pine, can be simmered to make a Vitamin C-rich tea. This would be a good way to help with coughs, colds, and sore throats.

And, some people have taken a pine bath to help soothe sore muscles and improve their circulation.


Native Americans used poplar to help treat toothaches and gum swelling.

Also, the buds in springtime were used to make salves to treat various ailments, such as:

  • Skin issues
  • Sore muscles
  • Sprains
  • Headaches
  • Eczema
  • Gout
  • Coughs

Decoctions from various parts of the poplar tree have been used to treat the following:

  • Rheumatic pains
  • Scurvy
  • Bladder and kidney ailments
  • Phlegm


Walnut husks are anti-fungal, and are rich in manganese, which has skin-healing properties. For example, rub fresh walnut husks directly onto ringworm.

Man putting walnuts in a basket

You can also use bark that has been dried and powdered to apply to the wound to help reduce swelling and speed healing.

Walnut leaf tea can aid in increasing circulation, energy, and digestion, and fresh bark is known to help relieve headaches when applied to the temples.


Willow bark contains salicylic acid. This is aspirin in its natural form.

It’s typically harvested in spring, when the buds are just beginning to form. When made into tea, it can treat pain, fever, and inflammation.

When it’s used externally, it helps to clean minor skin issues such as cuts, scrapes, and poison ivy. Or as an oil, you can soak your arthritic joints to help reduce pain and swelling.

Also, some Native Americans used the bark for tea to treat diarrhea.

Now that you are aware of a few trees that have been considered medicinal for years, you might want to look into properly harvesting them, so you can stock your own personal medicine cabinet!

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1 comment

What about Shadblow ? (Sp?)
My father used to sell saplings off our land to nurseries etc.

Peter Staniels

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