"Native American Herbal Remedies"
When early settlers arrived in the United states there were more than two thousand tribes of Native Americans.
tribe had(and in many cases,still does),it's own system of herbal medicine that was,in many ways, far superior to the
European style of health care practiced by the pioneers.
In fact,early settlers were startled to see Indians recovering from injuries that they considered fatal.
Tribal Medicine Man/Woman was as well equipped as any modern day pharmacy to treat a wide range of medical needs,ranging
from the common cold to childbirth.
The practicing of Medicine ways was a full time job and responsibility for the well-being and emotional balance of the
Villagers/Tribe belonged to the Medicine Man/Woman.
In return for his/her services, he/she was cared for by the members
of the village.
He/She always had food, shelter, his/her needs met, assistance when it was needed, and special Spirit gifts
that showed the honor and respect of his/her people. This was how the Medicine Man/Woman was "paid".
Although we have incorporated many of these herbs into our herbal traditions,many have been forgotten (or)
are "now" difficult to obtain.
The following list just goes to prove how sophisticated the Native American Traditional Healing/Herbal System really
Used by the Winnebago and Dakota tribes to stimulate the removal of phlegm in asthma. The rootstock
was official in the "U.S. Pharmacopoeia" from 1820 to 1882 when it was used in respiratory and nervous disorders
and in rheumatism and dropsy.
The Menominees smoked the pulverized, dried root for respiratory complaints while the Forest Potawatomis,
the Mohegans, and the Penobscots smoked the dried leaves to relieve asthma.
The Catawba Indians used a sweetened syrup
from the boiled root, which they gave to their children for coughs,
This is still a well-known and accepted remedy used
amoung Herbalist today,and it works GREAT for asthma; I know because I have used it on myself and my children.
The Catawba Indians used a tea of arnica roots for treating back pains. The "Dispensary of the United
States (22nd edition)" states this drug can be dangerous if taken internally and that it has caused severe and
even fatal poisoning. Also used as a wash to treat sprains and bruises.
Arnica is still used by Herbalist and Homepaths
today,but mostly as a rub or salve for sore muscles,sprains,etc.
The Catawba Indians steeped the roots in hot water and applied the hot fluid on aching backs.
The Catawba tribe crushed and steeped fresh horsemint leaves in cold water and drank the infusion
to allay back pain. Other tribes used horsemint for fever, inflammation, and chills.
Mint is still in wide use today
by Herbalist for Stomach problems and Nerveousness.
A tea of the leaves was used for bronchial and other respiratory problems.
. The Natchez drank a tea of the boiled roots as a remedy for pneumonia and was later used to
promote the expulsion of phlegm
The Yokia Indians of Mendocino County used a tea of the boiled leaves of a local species of wormwood
to cure bronchitis.
The Kiowa Indians boiled yellow-spined thistle blossoms and applied the resulting liquid
to burns and skin sores.
To Speed Childbirth:
The Cherokee used a tea of the boiled leaves. Frequent doses of the tea
were taken in the few weeks preceding the expected date of delivery.
To promote a rapid delivery, an infusion of the root in warm water was drunk as a tea for several
weeks prior to the expected delivery date.
This Herb is still in wide use by Herbalist today for a wide range of female
problems as well as to ease the discomfort of child-birth,and speed up delivery of the child.
To Speed Delivery of the Placenta:
A tea was made from the boiled roots.
herb is still used by Modern-day Herbalists, for a wide range of things from allergies,to stomach problems.
Navajo women drank a tea of the whole plant to promote the expulsion of the placenta.
To Stop Post-Partum Hemorrhage:
Hopi women were given an infusion of the entire buckwheat plant
to stop bleeding.
Black Western Chokecherry-
Arikara women were given a drink of the berry juice to stop bleeding.
Smooth Upland Sumac-
The Omahas boiled the smooth upland sumac fruits and applied the liquid as an external wash
to stop bleeding.
To relieve the Pain of Childbirth:
Wild Black Cherry-
Cherokee women were given a tea of the inner bark to relieve pain in the early stages.
The Alabama and Koasati tribes made a tea of the roots of the plant to relieve the pains of labor.
Boneset tea was one of the most frequently used home remedies during the last century,and is still
used by Herbalist today.
The Menominees used it to reduce fever; the Alabamas, to relive stomachache; the Creeks, for
body pain; the Iroquois and the Mohegans, for fever and colds.
The Mohegans made a tea of catnip leaves for infant colic,
This remedy is still in wide use today
by Herbalist for Baby's colic as well as any stomach problem, nerveousness, or sleeplesness.
The Cree Indians used an infusion of the inner bark as a remedy for coughs.
The Flambeau Ojibwa prepared a tea of the bark of wild cherry for coughs and colds, while other
tribes used a bark for diarrhea or for lung troubles.
The inner bark was used by Indian people as a tea for colds and coughs.
The Penobscots pulverized dried sarsaparilla roots and combined them with sweet flag roots in warm
water and used the dark liquid as a cough remedy,
You will find,even today, many cold and cough remedies that contain
The Mohegans steeped the blossoms of this wild species in warm water when they were in full bloom
and took the drink for diabetes.
Of-course,the Native Americans never had Diabetes,until they started eating more and
more of the White man's food. Now Diabetes is a very big problem amoung Native Americans.
The Indians of British Columbia utilized a tea of the root bark to offset the effects of diabetes.
The Plains Indians and Indians of the Southwest used the Prickly Pear Cactus,ground-up or pulverized,and drunk or
eaten atleast once a day.
A tea of blackberry roots was the most frequently used remedy for diarrhea among Indians of northern
Wild Black Cherry.
The Mohegans allowed the ripe wild black cherry to ferment naturally in a jar about one year
then they drank the juice to cure dysentery.
The Menominees boiled the inner bark of the dogwood and passed the warm solution into the rectum with
a rectal syringe made from the bladder of a small mammal and the hollow bone of a bird.
Chippewa and Ottawa tribes boiled the entire geranium plant and drank the tea for diarrhea.
Iroquois and Penobscots boiled the bark of the white oak and drank the liquid for bleeding piles and
Herbalist today use this in the control of pain and inflamation.
The Pawnee, Omaha, and Dakota tribes boiled the root bark of black raspberry for dysentery.
Catawbas drank a tea of star grass leaves for dysentery.
A tea of the roots was drunk for heartburn by the Pillager Ojibwas. Mohegans drank a tea of the leaves
for a tonic.
This herb/ flower is still in wide use by all Herbalist world-wide; it is excellant for Liver, Kidney problems,and
as a over-all tonic.
A tea from the root was used by the Catawbas and the Cherokee as a stomach ache remedy.
Sources: Millspaugh, Charles F. American Medicinal Plants. NY: Dover Publications, 1974.
Mooney, James. Myths of the Cherokee and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees. Nashville TN: Charles and Randy Elders, Publishers,
Weiner, Michael. Earth Medicine Earth Food. NY: Fawcett Columbine, 1980
Copyright © 1996 The Cherokee Cultural Society of Houston
FOR MORE NATIVE AMERICAN REMEDIES YOU CAN GO TO: http://herbsforhealth.about.com/cs/amerindianherbs/