Native Americans are renowned for medicinal plant knowledge. The use of native plants for healing purposes have been used to promote health by living in harmony with the earth. In Native American culture there is a saying that “we are all related” all things live in relationship to one another. Ceremonies play an important role in the overall well-being of traditional Native American people. Ceremonial gatherings may last for days or weeks; the more people that are present, the greater the healing energy. Through their participation in songs, prayer, music, and dance, the family and community contribute healing energy to the person. Today Native Americans frequently combine traditional healing practices with modern medicine to promote health and well-being. Ceremony, native herbal remedies, and allopathic medications are used side by side. Spiritual treatments are thus an integral part of health promotion and healing in Native American culture. Living in harmony with the earth and our world has meaning and purpose, not only for us but the whole, the earth, its peoples, and all that is. When we engage in health promotion by “walking in beauty”, we all win. “walk in beauty”
Sweet grass braid
-The hair of Mother Earth, a kindness medicine-
It takes 21 strands to make a sweetgrass braid. The first 7 strands represent the 7 generations behind us, our parents, our grandparents, our great grandparents, and so on. The 7 generations of who we are and what we are is because of them, they have brushed and made the trails we have been walking. The next 7 represent the 7 sacred teachings, Love, Respect, Honesty, Courage, Wisdom, Truth and Humility.
Generally, Sweetgrass is used in smudges, healing or talking circles because it has a healing effect – its smoke is believed to purify thoughts, the environment and to eliminate bad or negative thoughts.
Smoke from white sage (Artemesia califoncia) is used for purification of mind, body and spirit and sacred articles in advance of prayers and ceremonies. White sage is burned for meditation, smudging and cleansing of spirit and dwelling. White sage smoke is believed to provide a barrier that prevents negative spirits from entering the room in which a ceremony is being held.
The herb Blue Sage (Salvia azureus) has been used by Native American’s for centuries as a natural herb for Spiritual cleansing and clarity.
Juniper (Juniperus communis) plants are associated with protection in many different Native American tribes. Juniper is one of the herbs frequently included in medicine bundles and amulets. Juniper is energetically and physically detoxifying as well as centering.
Widely used by Native Americans and used for its ability to ward off negativity and provide an element of protection. The leaves were often carried by individuals to boost their spiritual strength and, in incense form; it’s still used today in a healing capacity. As such, it’s an ideal incense to choose if you want to bring an air of healing, protection or increase positive vibes in an environment.
Traditionally have been used during ceremony, as they contain antiseptic and astringent properties, which help cleanse and purify the air.
Know as having great power and luck, and as such it’s often carried. When burnt, it produces a warm and slightly spicy aroma, which is believed to purify the air and also help connect to the higher realms.
Red Willow Bark
Willows are regarded by Native Americans as being relatives of the four winds and carries your prayers on the wind and communicates them to the creator. The bark works well in incense and is an important ingredient in sacred smoking ceremonies. It’s calming and soothing, making it an ideal herb for use with clearing purposes and during quiet sessions of meditation.
Regarded as being a protection herb and is used in many situations where extra protection is required. It’s also thought to have masculine energy and associations with fire. Some traditions have used it when trying to invoke fire elementals, but it’s equally helpful when used by men or women. It is a grounding, calming and healing herb.
Purifying the spirit and clearing negative energy also known to inspire creativity, bring a deeper connection to the Divine source, and aid in physical healing.
Kinnick kinnick (aka kinnikinnik)
Traditional mixture used when smoking the sacred pipe (or peace pipe). It is made from five different traditional herbs, each bringing a different attribute to the mixture. This combination of herbs is believed to carry prayers and offerings out into the universe. It is also acceptable to burn it separately, in a shell or bowl without a pipe. Mix consists of Bear berry, osha root, mullein, red willow, and yerba Santa.
Abalone’s mother-of-pearl bearing shells have been used in ritual ceremonies for many centuries. Abalone is believed to have healing properties that carry energies of protection and emotional balance.
Native American Plant Medicine
Native Americans applied this plant to open wounds and cuts as a poultice made from the leaves to help clot the blood. They also combined fresh yarrow juice with water to help an upset stomach and for intestinal disorders. A tea made from the leaves and stems will act as an astringent.
This plant can be used for multiple medicinal remedies, but it is one of the only plants that the healers used in treating eye problems. A decoction from sumac was used as a gargle to relieve sore throats or taken as a remedy for diarrhea. The leaves and berries were combined in tea to reduce fever or made into a poultice to soothe poison ivy.
The Cherokee used this plant for treating an upset stomach. They used blackberry tea for curing diarrhea and soothing swollen tissues and joints. An all-natural cough syrup to heal sore throats can be made from blackberry root mixed with honey or maple syrup. To soothe bleeding gums, they used to chew the leaves. This plant is also good for strengthening the whole immune system.
Native American tribes considered this plant sacred. They used it mostly as an analgesic for alleviating sore joints. This herb improves memory, relieves muscle pain and spasm, and helps the circulatory and the nervous systems. It also improves the immune system and treats indigestion.
This plant has been used by healers for treating inflammation and respiratory conditions. Recent studies have shown that red clover helps to prevent heart disease by improving circulation and lowering cholesterol.
Black Gum Bark
The Cherokee used to make a mild tea from the twigs and black gum bark to relieve chest pains.
This is one of the most famous survival plants the indigenous population used for food but also as a preventative medicine. Because it’s an easily digestible food, it’s helpful for recovering from illness.
The Native Americans used this plant for treating mouth and throat conditions as well as cysts, fibroid tumors, and inflammation. It can be made into a poultice to help treat burns, sores, and wounds. A diuretic that stimulates kidney function can be made using the roots of this plant.
The Native Americans used this plant as a preventive and a cure for a mild common cold. The tea stimulates the bladder and kidneys and is a mild diuretic. A petal infusion was used for a sore throat.
The native tribes of Florida, such as the Seminoles, used the plant for food, but medicine men used it as a natural remedy for abdominal pain.
Healers used this plant for treating earache and ear infections. They also made a mild tea from the rootstock for stimulating the digestive system and relieving bloating. It also helps with bronchial infections and nausea.
The Native Americans used the inner bark to fashion bow strings, rope, thread, and clothing. Tea was made from the bark and leaves to soothe toothaches, respiratory irritations, skin conditions, stomach ache, sore throats, and even spider bites.
Healers used this plant as a remedy for insomnia, anxiety, depression, headache, and fatigue.
Prickly Pear Cactus
Native Americans made a poultice from mature pads as an antiseptic and for treating wounds, burns, and boils. Tea was made to treat urinary tract infections and to help the immune system.
This plant has been used as a natural remedy by the Native Americans for treating asthma, but it has multiple healing purposes, including rheumatoid arthritis, mumps, and hepatitis.
This plant was an important plant for healers because of its many unusual medicinal uses. It treats bone weakness, muscle weakness and tension, loose teeth, memory loss, and rheumatism. It can also be used as a sedative. It has an overall rejuvenating effect on the body as it improves vitality. The leaves and the root bark can also be used as an antibiotic.
The Native Americans made concoctions from the roots to reduce swelling in the joints, feet, or hands.
The Native Americans used this plant mainly for treating bladder and urinary tract infections.
Native Americans used it to heal various conditions, from treating fever to soothing skin conditions, improving digestion, and treating arthritis. The tea can reduce the effects of diabetes, while a concoction made from the plant’s roots reduces swelling and helps with joint disease, arthritis, gout, back pain, headache, and sores.