Herbal Native American Remedies No. 1

Asthma

Skunk Cabbage – 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.

Mullein – Introduced by Europeans. 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.

Backache

Arnica – 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.

Gentian – The Catawba Indians steeped the roots in hot water and applied the hot fluid on aching backs.

Horsemint – 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.

Bronchitis

Creosote Bush – A tea of the leaves was used for bronchial and other respiratory problems.

Pleurisy Root – The Natchez drank a tea of the boiled roots as a remedy for pneumonia and was later used to promote the expulsion of phlegm,

Wormwood – The Yokia Indians of Mendocino County used a tea of the boiled leaves of a local species of wormwood to cure bronchitis.

Burns

Yellow-Spined Thistle – The Kiowa Indians boiled yellow-spined thistle blossoms and applied the resulting liquid to burns and skin sores.

Childbirth

To Speed Childbirth:

Partridgeberry – 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.

Blue Cohosh – 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.

To Speed Delivery of the Placenta:

American Licorice – A tea was made from the boiled roots.

Broom Snakeweed – Navajo women drank a tea of the whole plant to promote the expulsion of the placenta.

To Stop Post-Partum Hemorrhage:

Buckwheat – 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.

Cotton – The Alabama and Koasati tribes made a tea of the roots of the plant to relieve the pains of labor.

Colds

Boneset – Boneset tea was one of the most frequently used home remedies during the last century. 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.

Colic

Catnip – The Mohegans made a tea of catnip leaves for infant colic.

Contraceptives

Ragleaf Bahia – The Navajos, who called the Ragleaf bahia herb twisted medicine, drank a tea of the roots boiled in water for thirty minutes for contraception purposes.

Indian Paintbrush – Hopi women drank a tea of the whole Indian paintbrush to “Dry up the menstrual flow.”

Blue Cohosh – Chippewa women drank a strong decoction of the powdered blue cohosh root to promote parturition and menstruation.

Dogbane – Generally used by many tribes, a tea from the boiled roots of the plant was drunk once a week.

Milkweed – Navajo women drank a tea prepared of the whole plant after childbirth.

American Mistletoe – Indians of Mendocino County drank a tea of the leaves to induce abortion or to prevent conception.

Antelope Sage – To prevent conception, Navajo women drank one cup of a decoction of boiled antelope sage root during menstruation.

Stoneseed – Shoshoni women of Nevada reportedly drank a cold water infusion of stoneseed roots everyday for six months to ensure permanent sterility.

Coughs

Aspen – The Cree Indians used an infusion of the inner bark as a remedy for coughs.

Wild Cherry – 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.

White Pine – The inner bark was used by Indian people as a tea for colds and coughs.

Sarsaparilla – 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.

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