Most of us take for granted the therapeutic value of the plants that grow in our own backyards. Consider the fact that there are plants that could help relieve your upset stomach, improve your eyesight or boost your immune system. The early Native Americans discovered the healing power of plants as long as 40,000 years ago. Below are 5 plants that the Native Americans valued for their essential healing properties.
1. Sage herb (Salvia officinalis)
Derived from the Latin word “salvere,” (to be saved) Sage (Salvia officinalis) is thought to be a sacred plant by the Native-American Indians due to its cleansing abilities. Found originally in countries around the Mediterranean Sea, sage is thought not only to improve function of vital organs such as the stomach, liver, colon, lungs and skin but also to cleanse the mind and body of negative energy.
Rich in anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants, sage is a great source of vitamin K as recognized by the International Herb Association in 2011 when it was awarded the title of Herb of the Year. It also contains rosmarinic acid, flavonoids and volatile oils.
Often used as an ingredient in personal care products due to its remarkably fresh fragrance, sage is a gray plant that produces purple, white, blue or pint flowers. Measuring approximately 2.5 inches, this herb is much known for its many uses in the kitchen. What is even more important, as a result of modern research, is the wide range of functions and uses it has in the medical field such as reducing blood pressure and regulating blood sugar.
2. Wild cherry bark (Prunus serotina)
Wild cherry bark is usually collected when still active in early fall from young plants. The next step after stripping the outer bark from the inner bark is to set it to dry in the shade. It is placed for storage in an airtight container out of direct sunlight. It was highly used by the Flambeau Ojibwe tribe who used it as a tea for treating coughs and colds. Wild cherry bark is also known as Virginia prune bark.
Modern-day herbal therapy uses wild cherry bark to treat symptoms such as bronchitis, fever, gout, sore throat, whopping cough and diarrhea. The Active ingredients in the bark which help to reduce inflammation and ease spasms include scopoletin, cyanogenic glycosides and tannins. It is also widely used as a powerful cough suppressant.
The journal Oncology established in a study published in 2006 that wild cherry bark can potentially protect from colorectal cancer. Further research shows that wild cherry bark can be used to ease an upset digestive system as well as reduce pain.
3. Dandelion (araxacum officinale)
When it came to finding a medicinal all-over wellness tonic the Mohegans and the Pillager Ojibwas knew best. While we may consider the dandelion a troublesome weed the Mohegans and the Pillager Ojibwas found that the tea from its leaves can be a great treatment for heartburn and swelling as well as stomach, skin and kidney problems.
The dandelions were not only appreciated by the Native Americans but also by the early Europeans as well as the Chinese for their therapeutic functions. The Europeans found it useful in the treatment of eye problems, diarrhea and diabetes, boils and fever. The Chinese used the dandelion for stomach problems and breast problems, appendicitis as well as inflammation.
All the parts of the dandelion are extremely beneficial. Beginning with the root which is very useful for detoxifying the gallbladder and the liver as well as the dandelion flower which helps improve immune system functioning and also has powerful antioxidant powers. In modern herbal medicine dandelion leaves are used to help ease digestion, stimulate appetite and as a diuretic. When collecting you own dandelions keep in mind to avoid areas where pesticides might have been used.
4. Rosemary (Rossmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary, also known as Rossmarinus officinalis, is a member of the mint family. Considered a sacred herb by the ancient Greeks and Romans as well as the Native American tribes, rosemary has anti-inflammatory properties and is very rich in antioxidants.
Rosemary is still used today as it was used by the Native Americans to help reduce anxiety, relieve muscle and bone soreness and for an overall state of well-being by boosting your mood. A highly aromatic herb, rosemary is proven to be a great analgesic and effective in alleviating migraines. A rosemary tea can help boost memory and improve oxygen flow to the brain.
5. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
A number studies done on animals support the Native American tribes’ way of using yarrow in healing infections and wounds as well as stopping bleeding. It is proven that yarrow has the ability to stop bleeding caused by abrasions and lacerations and also cleanse wounds.
Even today, modern herbal medicine promotes the use of yarrow tea for treating severe colds. The best way to do it is to mix a pint of boiling water with a touch of honey and an ounce of dried yarrow. It is a favorite for cutting and drying due to its very colorful blooms and fernlike leaves. Bleeding hemorrhoids can be effectively treated by applying yarrow compresses.
The positive aspect is that these plants are very easy to grow in your own garden. It is strongly advised that you always seek a healthcare professional’s opinion before using any of these herbs to self-treat any condition.