SELCO: What You MUST Know About SHTF Medicine

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by Selco

SHTF medicine was one of the most valuable skills that I used when my country collapsed. I plan to use that medical knowledge again if times get bad, for me and my family, or simply for other people, as a help or skill for trade.

When the SHTF, people used what was available for treating their medical condition. Results differed. A focus on knowledge, alternatives, cleanliness, and good sanitation practices will help people be more likely to survive.

All different kind of medical problems suddenly happened when the SHTF.

SHTF medicine for chronic conditions

Preppers usually think about injuries and wounds when they imagine real collapse, but tend to forget the spectrum of existing chronic medical conditions) that a lot of people cope with. Those conditions will not disappear when the SHTF, so if your father or spouse has a high blood pressure condition that probably means you will be more likely to deal with high blood pressure complications when SHTF than to treat gunshot wounds.

It does not mean you do not have to know wound treatment, it means you HAVE to know how to deal with high blood pressure.

So it makes sense to watch for already existing medical conditions within your family and to be ready to help with that when the SHTF.

Depending on the level of your knowledge and other circumstances, this can mean learning about natural remedies for episodes of high blood pressure (garlic, for example) or choosing to have huge stashes of meds for high blood pressure, oral or in the form of injections, or learning how to control it with dietary changes, etc.

Best is a combination of all of the above-mentioned skills and techniques.

A frequent mistake is to “lean” on just one technique, skill, or philosophy.

And that is exactly thing that is often seen in survival movement. Natural-herbal medicine.

Natural medicine doesn’t always work.

I knew several people who had knowledge about herbal medicine during hard times in the war. It was a valuable skill, simply because real medicines (drugs) were hard to find.

So they treated people with their own “medicines”.  Most of them actually  “sold ” those medicines. Some of them actually gave it as a present. (Of course, they always expected something in return. Rarely people do anything for free, which was pretty understandable at that time.)

Some of that it worked, but more of it did not work. It was a situation where you took it or left it, and to take it usually meant some hope.

Not to mention, a big number of scams occurred with those medicines.

You need to understand that the range of medical condition that was happening at that time was pretty wide. Because the medical system was completely out, you could see anything.

The important thing here is to understand that natural remedies might work in some conditions, while in others they are completely useless because of many reasons. (Too slow, too weak, lack of proper diet, a lot of stress…)

I remember treating more than once wounds with a mixture of herbs and other natural remedies like honey, pine needles, and similar.

And you know what was the result?

If the wound got severely infected, the person lost part of their body or even their life.

It was simple like that.

I have seen cases of pneumonia treated with natural remedies from men who had generational knowledge about natural remedies. And yes, sometimes they did have success but often they did not have success.

It was a desperate time. I saw people being treated after being not conscious for days, burning from fever with homemade hot balms, and prayers from 8 men next to their bed, but still they died.

Do not get me wrong, people may die from pneumonia in the most modern societies with advanced medical care,  but here we are talking about common sense and layers.

There is a reason why we are using antibiotics to fight serious infections and not natural remedies.

Yes, part of that reason is the greed of big pharmaceuticals companies, I do agree with that. But antibiotics are needed to fight the most serious infections.

So, if you put all of your money on natural remedies, you need to consider again your prepping philosophy.

Natural remedies have their place as an important skill for SHTF, but as an addition to conventional medical knowledge, stash, and skills. Or, in a worst-case scenario, for use when it is the only way to treat illnesses or injuries.

What makes sense vs. what is fancy

When SHTF you will have to solve problems (including medical issues) in the quickest, most efficient way.

There are a few reasons for that:

  • You’ll have other problems. Most probably that medical issue is not gonna be your only problem. Most probably you will have many other problems concerning resources, safety, and security. You’ll be under stress, physically and mentally.
  • There is no time for mistakes. People feel confident in some things today. It is like that because you have the most advanced medical system usually just a phone call away from you. In other words, NOW if you have some kind of small incision, yes, of course, you’re gonna try to solve it with natural remedies, herbs, natural ingredient ointments, or whatever. It is like that because if you messed up and see that your cure is not working, you can sit in your car and go to the emergency room for professional help. Guess what: When the SHTF, if you mess up, you are f***ed.

Remember – when SHTF, a small problem can lead to a very big problem really fast.

Medical preparedness is all about levels.

The first SHTF medicine knowledge that you need is a systematic understanding of medical conditions in terms of severity and probability.

Just like all other prepper topics, there is no sense to start preparing from the end of the spectrum or to cover what is unlikely while completely forgetting the basics.

For a very fundamental start it is good to look into hygiene, infection, existing chronic medical conditions (yours or in your family-group), and wound treatment (emergency and prolonged).

Just these few topics will take months of time, especially since you will try to implement natural remedy knowledge together with medical knowledge.

Again, do not get me wrong. Knowledge about natural remedies was very important and valuable, and I believe we all need to know the basics. But do not throw away what modern medicine can offer you just because you have some opinions that natural is the only way.

What I point out very often is the fact that if something is illegal today (like administration of injections, healing with antibiotics, or whatever) from the point of medical legality it doesn’t mean you are not allowed to research the hell out of it and to learn everything possible. When the SHTF, nobody is gonna care about licenses. Knowledge and skills are gonna be more important.

A lot of knowledge is out there and FREE.  You can learn a lot through that.

In the end, for us, natural medicine was very important and valuable because a majority of folks did not have a better choice.

About Selco:

Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution. He is currently accepting students for his next physical course here.

In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today.

He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless of what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations as Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months.

Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.



Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution. In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today. He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations as Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months. Read more of Selco's articles here. Buy his PDF books here. Take advantage of a deep and profound insight into his knowledge by signing up for his unrivaled online course. Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.

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  • I agree some knowledge of modern medicine one and some pharmaceuticals will be needed.

    Natural medicines can’t test minor issues like an infection from minor cuts and scrapes, a bad cold, etc very effectively andcanboost immune system to fight infections of all types. It prepares the body to heal. And avoids many of the pitfalls of drugs like side effects some which are serious or life threatening.

    Natural medicine modalities have limits and can’t do everything. They may not be fast enough or strong enough for serious medical emergencies.

    I think it it would be an error to use either traditional or natural medicine to the exclusion of the other.

    • Even though I think one should learn conventional medicine I disagree a lot with that statement that natural substances can’t fix infections, however you have to KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING. Garlic for example, if you think taking one or two cloves or the deodorized stuff is going to help with an infection you are daydreaming, you would need at least FIVE to FIFTEEN cloves daily raw and I use it on top of pizza to chase it down, hard to swallow even 5 them though you can divide it throughout the day, plus you should add other antimicrobials like oregano and rosemary for even better effect. Most people think tiny amounts of herbs and a lack of deep knowledge how they work is going to cut it, no it will not you need to do your research. A good book to start is Michael T Murray’s The Healing Powers of Herbs and any other books by the same author, also Nurse’s Guide to Herbs and listening to a lot of podcasts by Gary Null, over a period of time will you gain a lot of knowledge on how they work and what dosages to give.

  • I prefer natural remedies and make my own herbal tinctures, but this is a good reminder to stock up on other things as well, particularly fish antibiotics.

  • All medical supplies will be tightly controlled and medically trained personnel (especially surgeons) will be closely surveilled by government security forces during an insurrection or other national security emergency.
    A government uses medical supplies to trace and find anti- government forces. Insurgents will have casualties which must have medical treatment so the best way to find insurgent bases is to follow the medical supplies and physicians.
    Innocent civilians will have a difficult time acquiring anything other than Band-Aids and calamine lotion. A request for 4X6 abdominal pads and packing gauze will get you locked in a cell for interrogation. Acquire supplies for the treatment of gunshots and burns now. Not just first-aid items but also dressings, bandages and antiseptics for the long term care and recovery. Learn First-Aid and make friends with a Combat Medic. Become self-sufficient.

  • For people with high blood pressure, diabetes, and other conditions that require medication – they must begin making lifestyle changes right away to reverse their conditions. Natural remedies work, but they MUST be super high quality, taken at the correct dosage, and taken for an extended period of time.

  • I agree. Modern medicine DO WORK because of the research, technology and hard-earned real-world experience behind them. Especially for the rough parts like infections, etc. They also have been known not to work, either.
    But I do know natural remedies can also work too and fail just the same. But chances improve if the person has good hygiene and Biblical eating habits. No unclean foods. This is CRUCIAL.

  • There are ways to reverse or decrease chronic health conditions, and to treat them in ways that don’t involve seeing a doctor and getting a prescription drug.

    Not everything can be treated like this, but many issues can be resolved through things like improved nutrition, eliminating things causing harm (food intolerances, toxins, sugar and white flour, etc), getting better sleep, getting more physical activity each day, etc.

    An obvious good “prep” is to get yourself in shape and if possible off prescription drugs by addressing root causes underlying health challenges – where that’s possible.

    Look into functional medicine for more on this way of thinking (addressing root causes rather than making the same choices and addressing symptoms with symptom-suppressing medications – the latter is the standard in the conventional medical industry).

  • Great article, as always.

    I’d recommend taking a WFR (Wilderness First Responder), if possible.

    Usually a week-long course, it covers short and long term care in the field using improvised materials.

    Where ‘ambulance context’ first responders are trained to assess, stabilize and transport, WFRs are trained to also diagnosis and treat.

    Usually costs but some volunteer organizations will sponsor your course (volunteering is a great way to get hands-on experience). WFR training lays a great foundation quickly that can be extended indefinitely.

    • I totally agree plus I might add the books What to Do if There Is No Doctor and the same title with Dentist instead of Doctor at the end, designed for use in the Third World.

  • Good article as always, Selco. I haven’t heard anyone here mention this but bee pollen is good to have on hand as a nutritional boost. When I start to feel under the weather I talke a teaspoon of bee pollen in the evening and feel okay the next day.
    Of course it wouldn’t work for everything but every little bit of knowledge can help.

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