Indian Plant Remedies May Work For You

Here are ten Indian plant remedies. Did you know that many drugstore medications may derive from common vegetation found in our forests, bush, and wetlands?

In an age when prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications are so plentiful and varied, we tend to forget that the vast number of these may well derive from common vegetation to be found in our local forests, bush, and wetlands. Native Americans have provided many lessons in this regard. Below are ten examples which may surprise you. Please check with your doctor before using any of the following.

1. The common cat-tail is remarkably versatile. Much of the plant is edible and the sap, not

unlike maple syrup, has been used as candy. Flowering cat-tail heads, when eaten, are reported to be a remedy for diarrhea. Even the down has a use as pillow stuffing.

2. Dandelion greens in salad or cooked with meat provide vitamins A and C. Medicinally, tea made from roots is considered effective for kidney and liver problems, jaundice and even heartburn.

3. The wild rose is much-prized for several reasons. Rose hip tea is regarded as a restorative, perhaps because it's loaded with vitamin C. Colds and fevers may be abated with a tea of boiled roots. The same tea is also said to work for diarrhea and stomach disorders. Boil up the petals and you may have a heart tonic.

4. Juniper berries, roots, gum, and even twigs and leaves have found medicinal purposes. Dried

and crushed to a powder, the leaves relieve sores. Root tea is reportedly good for the kidneys. Some parts of the juniper become a gum when boiled, and this when eaten may serve as an

oxidizer. Or apply a hot pack of roasted twigs externally to ease a sore throat.

5. Smooth sumac is considered more than just a beautiful shrub. In various preparations it sounds almost like a cure-all. Boil the berries for dysentery; drink it cold for fever. Prepared in the same way, the roots may provide the same remedies, plus relief from urinary disorders and the common cold.

6. Burdock is much more than a source of irritation for owners of long-haired dogs. The secret seems to be to use only year-old roots, boiled to various strengths. The tea is reputed to ease stomach pains, purify blood, and remedy pleurisy. The solution has also been used externally to treat skin disorders.

7. Wild ginger root has been used in official medicine to induce perspiration and also as a

stimulant. At least two antibiotics have been found among the root's properties. Some Native

Americans have used a decoction, i.e., a boiling-down, from the root, for ear and throat problems,

as well as relief of heart palpitation.

8. Butternut bark, when crushed, has been applied externally for headaches and toothaches.

Boiled down, the bark is said to speed the healing process of fresh wounds. The syrup, boiled with bark, may also ease digestive problems.

9. Chokecherry root bark has been officially recognized as a cough suppressant and sedative for

nearly two centuries. Tea boiled from twigs has been regarded as a tonic to purify blood. The

active ingredient of chokecherry seems to be its concentration of hydrocyanic acid.

10. Black nightshade contains the poisonous alkaloid, solanine, and should be prepared with

caution. Long, slow cooking neutralizes the poison. A tea of steeped ripe berries was used for insomnia. The plant was also considered an effective dewormer.

The effectiveness of these plants is moot, but then, one often confronts similar issues at the local pharmacy; think only of the lists of possible side effects on nearly every drug you purchase. While the plants come without labels, they do offer histories of successful use that are centuries old.

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