Native American natural healing remedies
As you know, herbs or natural medicines are part of the Native way. They are used for cleansing, finding balance, connecting with Mother Earth and the Creator, expressing gratitude, etc. As well as healing ailments in a natural way.
As a mental health professional, I absolutely understand that at times, medication is essential. Essential to balance one’s biochemistry for example. I have and do take medication at times as well but when possible, I would rather use what Mother Earth gives us. However, I have to advice you to consult with your doctor before making major changes in your life. That being said, natural remedies can complement and at times replace, more chemical ones. I thought I would present to you some natural remedies to common ailments. Part of the information below comes from this wonderful book on the right. You can buy it here. Alright, let’s get started. Just look over the following information or scroll down to a particular ailment. Also, the herb garden on top of the post? It is in the shape of the medicine wheel. How cool is that?
Colds and fever
First off, most people believe that a fever needs to be brought down as soon as possible. In fact, a fever is sometimes a good sign. A fever is basically a sign that your body is fighting a bacteria or virus. And since certain bacteria and viruses can only survive at a certain temperature, by heating itself up, the body is in defense mode and trying to slow down the growth of whatever is invading it. Native people understood that concept. Just think for a second of their practices. Especially the concept of sweatlodges. Oftentimes, they would try to raise a sick’s person body temperature and make them sweat. Nowadays, most people might not agree with the principle but doctors will nonetheless often advice patients to let the fever run its course as long as it is lower than 103 degrees. if your fever has been going on for more than 2 days and is higher than 103, please consult your doctor.
Ok, now that that is settled, I have to say that herbs can also help bring your fever down. Herbs such as cayenne, ginger, sage, peppermint, goldenseal, milkweed, hops, honeysuckle and yarrow. All herbs are best taken as teas (using their leaves). Drinking them as a tea also helps the body remain hydrated. Therefore, add a teaspoon of dried herbs or 2 teaspoons of fresh herbs to a cup of boiling water, let steep for 15 minutes and drink up to 3 cups a day.
Another great remedy for fever is willow bark. However, as willow bark contains salicin (a compound similar to active ingredients in Aspirin), DO NOT GIVE IT TO CHILDREN. For adults, steep a teaspoon in cup of boiling water for 15 minutes and drink.
As for colds, a few different herbs can be taken. Ginger is a good one to neutralize cold-causing viruses and bring down a fever. Licorice can help relieve congestion, clear the lungs, and helps fight viruses. As you might have heard from your grand-mother, garlic can also be effective to stop viruses, as its active ingredients travel directly to the affected areas. The bad news? Garlic is more effective when eaten raw (one or 2 cloves a day). Or you can make a garlic tea, by smashing numerous cloves and letting them steep in hot water for 6 to 8 hours. All I can say is good luck drinking that tea!
Native Americans were no strangers to itchy skin. After all, they lived surrounded with insects, nature and at times harsh weather. They did not have the luxury of calamine lotion or cortisone cream…Therefore, they often resorted to herb treatments, applied directly to the skin. For example, they would use hazel, goldenseal, licorice root, echinacea or camomile in a wash. Apply directly to the skin or as a wet compress. Oats are also great at relieving itchy skin. Today, one can take a bath with oats sprinkle in it or put oats in a cheesecloth and then in the bathtub.
Certain conditions such as eczema and psoriasis can also cause itchy skin. One’s skin should be kept well hydrated and moisturized no matter what but some herbs can also be useful. Oats, once again (wet and applied directly to the skin or in a bath) are helpful as well as licorice root (can be drunk as a tea or applied to the skin as a wash) and watercress (same as licorice root). Other herbs such as goldenseal, stinging nettle or red clover can also be used. One can crush clover leaves and use them as a poultice to relieve itching.
Psoriasis can be not only unsightly but also very itchy. Some ways to help are to take cool baths, apply moisturizer and get sunshine. The latter is often effective at clearing the skin, at least for a while. But as exposure to the sun comes with other potential problems (hello cancer!), you might want to try herbs as well. Camomile is one of the best. You can apply compresses to the skin, buy camomile lotion or drink it as a tea. Licorice root can also be drunk as a tea or used in a wash. And once again, oats in the bathtub, which soothe the skin. Finally, as strange as it might seem, red peppers, or rather an ingredient they contain, capsaicin, can help relieve the discomfort of skin conditions. Doctors recommend buying capsaicin capsules in health store. Note that those ointments can be irritating at first but can be helpful over time.
If you are like me, you get a lot of headaches. And further, if you are like me, most of your headaches are tension headaches (due to tense muscles in the shoulders and neck). The best way to reduce those headaches is then by relaxing the muscles. One good way to do so is by applying heat either with a heating pad, a hot bath or shower or a hot towel applied to the area. Moreover, in our world today, a lot of headaches are unfortunately due to stress, emotional or otherwise. I found relief by practising the teachings of the Red Road and the medicine wheel, trying to achieve balance within my four sides. Finally, some herbs can help relieve some of the pain caused by headaches. For example, willow, peppermint, goldenrod, violet, rose, lavender and sage are all good when drank in a tea. Vervain tea (just like lavender) also acts as a mild sedative, helping the drinker to relax. Finally, although it was not used by Native people, feverfew has been shown to help reduce headaches and migraines in about 2/3 of those using it consistently. You can chew its leaves, use them to make a tea or take it as a supplement found in health food stores. Don’t take if you are pregnant though as it can increase the risks of miscarriage.
Many of us struggle with digestive issues, might it be gas, irritable bowel syndrome, cramps or heartburns. Rolaids, Tums, and prescribed medication are found in many homes across the country. Well, herbs can also be useful. I can attest to that one, being a sufferer of digestive issues as well as members of my family. Gas has been around way longer than beans and can be uncomfortable. The best herbs to use to relieve gas are fennel, peppermint, sage, licorice, goldenseal (that herb seems to have some kind of magical power to relieve every ailment….), dandelion or yarrow. You can use any of them in teas and take 3-4 times a day.
As for indigestion (feeling bloated, nauseated, too full), herbs can also be useful to reduce its discomfort. If one is feeling too full, a tea made of goldenseal, ginger or wormwood can be useful. Ginger will also help with the feeling of being nauseated. To relieve bloating, fennel and peppermint work wonders (peppermint also helps with heartburns). They are both staples in my home and have been for many years. They both help reduce the buildup on gas in the digestive track.
Yes yes I know, not the most pleasant ailment to discuss. But it is a frequent one so let’s discuss it. And believe it or not, it is not only a female problem. Indeed, it is caused by the candida fungus, which can be present in different areas of the body (even the armpits). Unfortunately, one needs to see a doctor when one has a yeast infection but certain herbal remedies can help give a boost to anti-fungal medication. For example, echinacea can help stimulate the body’s white cells, which help destroy the organism causing the infection. You can drink it as a tea or apply it to the infected area (depending which one it is…).
Further, bearberry contains an anti-fungal compound also found in blueberries and cranberries (hence why doctors recommend drinking cranberry or blueberry juice). You can drink it as a tea. Finally, sage, goldenseal (really, go get some right now, it cures everything :)) and goldenrod also contain an anti-fungal compound. Drink them as a tea or apply them to the skin.
So here you are, some herbal remedies for you. Don’t forget to check out the incredible book mentioned above. It has become a sacred book in my home! If there are any ailments not mentioned in here that you would like input on, please write me a comment below and I will answer you.
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