Medicinal Plants Native Americans Used for Healing

Native Americans had a great herbal tradition because they believed that the Creator gave them medicinal herbs for healing and curing various injuries, diseases and illnesses. Their approach to medical treatment was very holistic, relying heavily on plants and their unique characteristics.

The following plants have a long history of usage among the Cherokees:

1.    Yarrow

Yarrow was used for treating wounds on the skin. Usually, the leaves were used – fresh and crushed for wound healing, or dried and crushed for digestion-aiding tea.

2.    Wild Rose

Wild rose or rose hip was used for preparing immunity-boosting teas; it’s no wonder, as rose hips are packed with vitamin C. Wild rose was also used to stimulate the bladder and kidneys.

3.    Blackberry

Blackberries were used for various things: stomach issues and poor digestion, swelling in the joints, sore gums, sore throat, etc. Along with regular blackberries, blackberry root was eaten and blackberry teas were made.

4.    Mint

Mint tea helps with digestive problems and an upset stomach. Moreover, the Cherokee crushed the leaves and used them to relieve itching and pain. Mint is also useful if you suffer from allergies, nausea and fatigue.

5.    Buckbrush

You can use the roots of the buckbrush to soothe inflammation and improve kidney function. This herb also  regulates blood pressure. To prepare tea, you need to put some leaves and flowers in boiling water. Soak them for 5 minutes, then drink the tea.

6.    Greenbriar

Greenbriar was used as a blood purifier and a diuretic. Rich in minerals, the root of this plant was consumed for better health, while its leaves, rich in vitamins and minerals, were used for ointments. As for the berries, they were also eaten.

7.    Yellow Dock

Because it’s rich in vitamins and minerals, yellow dock root was mostly used for cooking. Its leaves, packed with iron, were also sometimes consumed. Interestingly, yellow dock root can also be used as a mild laxative.

8.    Cattail

This herb is easily digestible. It is believed that if you consume cattail it will prevent illnesses or assist in recovery.

9.    Sumac

The non-poisonus sumac is rich in antioxidants that promote healing, so it was used regularly. The berries were eaten and made into beverages, while its leaves were used for making teas that reduce fevers. The leaves were also used for making rash-relieving ointments.

10.    Wild Ginger

Wild ginger was used for making teas that stimulate digestion and help with stomach issues. Crushed and steeped stems of wild ginger were also used as a form of earache remedies.


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