Herbalogy and the Native American Indians

by Terri Jean
September 8, 2000

Arnica (Catawba) – the roots are used for treating aches and pains (especially in the back and in joints). Healed injuries such as broken bones, sprains, and bruises. You do NOT want to ingest this herb. It is to be applied to the skin.

Aspen (Cree) – the bark was boiled into a tea and used as a couch medicine.

Boneset – this tea was used by many tribes and for various healing practices. The Iroquois – for colds and to reduce fever. The Menominees also used it to reduce fever and the Alabama Indians gave it to people to cure stomach ailments.

Catnip (Mohegans) – the leaves were boiled into a tea and given to infants to relieve an infant with colic.

Dandelion – This plant has been used to cure many ailments for thousands of years – and is still used today. The Ojibwas drank a tea to cure heartburn, and the Mohegans drank it as a feel good tonic.

Goldenseal (Cherokee) – this herb has been used by various tribes for many, many treatments – including a ground goldenseal smeared onto bodies to act as an insect repellent.

Hops (Mohegans) – a hops tea has been used by the Mohegans as a sedative for thousands of years.

Mullein (Menominees, Potawatomis, Mohegans, Penobscots, Catawba) – dried Mullein was smoked and used for respiratory complaints, including asthma, and boiled mullein (used as a tea) was given as a cough syrup.

Pleurisy Root (Natchez) – boiled the roots for a strong tea that aided pneumonia and other respiratory ailments.

Purple Coneflower (Plains) – this cure-all plants was used by the Plains Indians as a bee sting and bite tonic. Other tribes (of yesterday and today) use coneflowers to increase immunity, heal colds and flus, to clean out wounds and as a feel-good tonic. The coneflower should be part of every gardners flower beds.

Sarsaparilla (Penobscots) – this root was ground and pounded into a poweder and combined with sweet flag roots and used as a sweet, soothing cough medicine.

Skunk Cabbage (Winnebago and Dakota) – used to stimulate phlegm for those who suffered from asthma. The Skunk Cabbage allowed the phlegm to be removed.

Wild Black Cherry (Mohegans) the ripe black cherry juice would ferment for up to one year. The juice was then used to heal stomach and bowel problems incuding dysentery.

Wild Carrot (Mohegans) – the wild carrot blossoms were boiled and steeped and used as a method for controlling diabetes.

Wild Cherry (Flambeau Ojibwa) – the bark of a wild cherry tree was used for coughs and colds. Even today some natural medicines and couch drops are still made from wild cherry bark.

Wild Onions (Dakota) – can be applied to bee stings and bug bites.

Willow (Pomo) – the inner root bark of the willow tree was given to very ill people who were full of chills, fever and infection. The willow induced sweating and lowered fever. Willow bark eventually became the primary ingredient in asprin.

Wormwood (Yokia) – was made into a tea from the leaves to cure bronchitis.

Yellow Root (Cherokee) – a tea made from this root was used for stomach problems by the Cherokees.

Yellow-Spined Thistle (Kiowa) – bioled the thistle blossoms and made a tincture that would be applied to sores, cuts, and burns.