How to stop a bleeding with plants

“It’s incredible how the human body is. That it could do so much. That it can go beyond the everydayness of life; That it can be extraordinary and powerful, and harbor a spirit of hope and pure will.”

Lynne Cox

Any activity conducted in the Great Outdoors include several risks, which can be either physical either psychological. Or even both, if combined in what we can define “the worst case scenario“.

Survivalists and Bushcrafters are surely well aware of them. Some of the most common injures they may experience while outside are bites, abrasions, but also cuts.

The main amount of wounds connected to cuts are intrinsecally related to the employment of cutting tools. Knives (fixed blade or foldable), axes, saws, hatchets are indeed the cornerstones of our gear while in the woods.

We carry them, we use them. We practice, we hurt oursevelves. That is, tout court, part of our “dirt time”.It is kind of unavoidable.
The point is strictly related to the severity of the wound itself.

If it is massively bleeding, in fact, we definitely need immediate care.
If we are alone, taking care of our injury in the best, wisest and fastest manner as possible is mandatory.

But… are we 100% aware of what we actually need to do, to face such a situation?

Shock and panic, in fact, can easily take over.
And what if we don’t have enough – or the proper – gear inside our Medi-kit?

In this article we will see how to face a possible “Stop the bleed” situation taking advantage of some materials we can grab in the woods.

klw scanning the area

No need to say that this can happen only if we know how, where, and when to look for.

Say NO to improvisation

“The human body is river of intelligence, energy and information that is constantly renewing itself in every second of its existence.”

Deepak Chopra

Setting a Medi-kit isn’t an easy task for sure. In order to do it in the right way you are required to:

  • have attended to some First Aid Courses
  • (more specifically) have attended to some Wilderness Medicine Courses
  • have been paired by a professional to check your Medi-Kit
  • have perfect knowledge of each single item contained in your Medi-Kit
  • maintain and periodically check the good status of your Medi-Kit

It goes without saying, in fact, that in the unfortunate case of a deep and severe wound, you need to treatthe bleeding injury by stopping the bleed.This article is meant to provide only the main guidelines. For this reason I highly recommend to look forspecific manuals, videos or lessons on this particular topic.Generally speaking, even if caught up in distress by the situation, you need to reason following the motto “first things first”.
The wound must be cleaned with clean water and soap (or disinfectant).

In order to stop the bleed, you need to applicate accurate and direct pressure on the bleeding part, without touching it with bare hands. This is due to the potential presence of dirt and bacteria on your hands. A direct pressure may put into action by using a clean freezer bag, as recommended inside the valuable manual “BUSHCRAFT: First Aid” by Dave Canterbury and Jason A.Hunt. The next step is creating a dressing by fixing it with some Gorilla Tape.

In case of a severe injury, you may resort to the use of tourniquet. But… are you able to apply it in the
right manner? Or, if you find yourself without one, are you capable of improvising a tourniquet device
which can be:

  • safe
  • reliable
  • effective

If the – honest! – answer is no, well… say no to improvisation. It’s about you, and your life.

Attending to some classes, keeping on refreshing your First Aid/Wilderness Medicine skill, maybe throughout the help of your family members, is always a good way to go.

By that said, you may need to treat a potential bleed even in your backwoods. And in case you don’t have the right stuff with you, Nature can be your drugstore. In fact, she can provide you some good, natural elements to treat your bleeding as soon as possible.

Let’s discover more on what we can actually employ in an emergency situation.

The benefits of plant ID for a Prepper

“The greatest force in the human body is the natural drive of the body to heal itself – but that force in not independent of the belief system. Everything begins with belief. What we believe is the most powerful option of all.”

Norman Cousins

Any Survivalist or Prepper should be extremely aware of how many benefits he/she may get from an extensive knowledge in Plant Identification.

This is sheer virtue when it comes to identify medical plants as well as edible plants, as we already covered in some previous articles.
Some plants, in fact, can accomplish multiple and very notable tasks. One above all, walnut tree, as we will soon discover.

How to stop a bleeding with plants

“The human body has been designed to resist an infinite number of changes and attacks brought about by its environment. The secret of good health lies in successful adjustment to changing stresses on the body.”

Harry Johnson


As a matter of fact, any plant which contains tannins can be employed in order to stop a bleeding. From this specific perspective, these plants can be also used as “vulnerary”.

This means that they are good for healing wounds in a reasonable amount of time, especially if the wound herself does not happen to be too much severe.

Trees like
Walnut (Juglans regia)
Oak (Quercus)
Poplar (Populus)
contain, in fact, a huge amounr of tannins.


Tannins, also called tannoids consist of a class of polyphenolic biomolecules which are astringent. They are able to precipitate proteins and also other organic compounds, like amino acids and alkaloids. Due to the capacity of being astringent, tannins are a great aid to clots.

It is also proved that another substance which has tannins like, for example, green tea “[…] contributes to significant decline in bleeding of the socket caused by tooth extraction as well as reduction of oozing […]” (“Evaluation of the Effect of Green Tea Extract on the Prevention of Gingival Bleeding after Posterior Mandibular Teeth Extraction: A Randomized Controlled Trial“, Soltani and other Authors, 2014).

By getting tannins out from walnut, oak and poplar trees you will have some natural remedy which can cause the blood to clot because of their hemostatic effect.

In fact, as mentioned above, tannins are high in astringent.

In this way they cause blood vessels to constrict. Additionally, they are also antiseptic, by killing bacteria. If you apply them on your previously cleaned wound, you will lower the risk of infection.

You may employ some clean gauze to soak into tannins and apply them on the wounds.

If you have some green tea bags, you can actually use them as well. Drinking some warm tea is not only good for your morale, but it can also provided some bags which are still good to use (mild!) on your direct skin.

Powder and Poultice

The powder you can gain from Black Walnut (Juglans nigra), as well as the poultice you can make out of White Oak (Quercus alba) bark have been used since long time to treat bleeding wounds.

Native Americans, for example, made an extensive use of it which has been successfully handed down till nowadays.

“[…] The German Commissioner has approved it for treating diarrhea. It has also been listed on the U.S. Pharmacopoeia since 1916 for its astringent and antiseptic qualities. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) designates oak bark as GRAS, or generally recognized as safe […]” (taken from Very Well Health)

You can shred some Black Walnuts and get a powder out it, which should be completely cleaned out of any maggots. You can both get a tincture or a powder (if you let them dry out). You can store the powder inside a freezer bag, which should be entirely cleaned.

The poultice made out of White Oak bark has indeed the very same benefits. If you process it in the correct way, you will be sure to get some very valuable benefits out of it.

You can start by drying the bark. This is good either for immediate use or for a later one. Be careful when placing the bark in a well shaded spot. Avoid to overlap the single parts, in order to get an entire and proper dryness. Put it inside a non-aluminum pot for at least twenty minutes, using just one cup of water.

Wait to cool down and submerge a gauze into it.

You can also drink it in order to treat:

  • mucus
  • insomnia
  • chronic diarrhea
  • sore throats, and mucus

Plus, it is good against vaginitis. You can actually use a tea brewed soaked gauzed very delicately on the hurtful part.

It is highly recommended by all the experienced herbalists all over the world not to abuse of it.
Nature provides us all the necessary items and tools to fix an emergency situation and a potential deadly medical conditions.

Luckily good lessons from the past brought us the knowledge to take care of those conditions in the best way, if we know how to correctly identify plants and if we are fully aware of which part of the plant we actually need to use.

cropped kyt lyn walken.jpg

Kyt Lyn Walken is the official European representative and instructor for Hull's Tracking School (Virginia, USA), and is a certified Conservation Ranger for C.R.O.W. (Conservation Rangers Operations Worldwide). She has been an outdoors and tracking enthisast since childhood. She is contributor as a writer for several magazines in U.S. and U.K.Kyt is author of the manuals "The importance of being a Tracker", "The Urban Tracker, "Tracking Compendium" (this one with Andy Martin), "Jungle Trackers: S.A.S. In Malesia and Borneo".

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