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    30 Native American Herbal Remedies

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    Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor and nothing in this article should be taken as medical advice. Please talk to your doctor before using any of the herbs and/or remedies mentioned in this article.

    30 Native American Herbal Remedies

    Modern medicine has its roots in the traditional herbal remedies discovered and shared by Native Americans. While little is known about how the many herbal remedies developed, it is thought that Native Americans learned the healing powers of herbs by watching animals eat them. In time, the Native Americans shared these remedies with English settlers in need of healthcare.

    The Importance of Herbs 

    Many herbs are used both for food and medicine. Knowing this is important because regular culinary use of an herb can provide some of the same health benefits as acute use for a specific health condition. Another reason that herbs are essential is that they are typically indigenous to an area, making them easier to forage, grow, and propagate. 

    Herbal remedies are often made from plants that are considered to be weeds or that have been propagated for garden use. 

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    Herbal Remedies

    It is important to understand that not all herbal remedies are recommended to be used today. In some cases, more specific treatments have been developed. In other cases, the side effects of herbal remedies may outweigh the benefit of those remedies. Regardless, you’ll want to check with your doctor, health care provider, and pharmacist before trying any new herbal remedy to ensure it is a good fit for you and your personal health needs. 


    Typically relegated to animal feed, alfalfa had medicinal purposes as well. For example, alfalfa was used to treat arthritis, assist in blood clotting, and to enhance the immune system. 


    An easy houseplant to grow, aloe has long been hailed for its medicinal use. The gel can be squeezed out of the leaves and put directly on burns, sunburns, and even insect bites. 


    The inner bark of the aspen tree was made into a tea to treat pain, fever, and cough. In addition, the bark of the aspen tree contains salicin, the precursor to modern-day aspirin. 


    These delicious berries grow wild in North America, although many species are now cultivated for gardens. Traditionally, the roots were made into cough syrup. The leaves were chewed to relieve bleeding gums, and blackberry tea was used to curb swollen joints. In addition, the fruit is eaten to enhance the immune system. 

    Astringent Herbs


    These plants are known as survival food. Cattails are used for survival because they are an easily digestible, commonly found food source high in vitamins. In addition, because they are so easy to digest, they were used to help people recover from illness. 


    The leaves and flowers of the chamomile plant were brewed into tea to treat nausea and indigestion. Today, chamomile tea is easy to purchase or brew and is often used to relax and promote sleep. 


    Cranberries are a highly-exported fruit crop grown in North America and traditionally eaten for Thanksgiving meals. One of its most famous uses is to prevent urinary tract infections, although it is also thought to have been used as an anti-asthmatic, antibacterial, and a diuretic. 

    Devil’s Claw

    Once used in native American medicine, Devil’s Claw is still sold as a supplement today. The roots were made into a concoction that treated arthritis pain and swelling, back pain, and headaches. 


    Echinacea, also known as the coneflower, is a flowering plant in the sunflower family. It was used in traditional medicine to support the immune system. Not surprisingly, it is still used today as a dietary supplement to boost immunity. Although it can be found in the wild, E. Purpura is probably the most cultivated species of echinacea and grows easily in the garden


    Elderberry was used to treat a variety of ailments, including headaches, indigestion, and colds. Today it is commonly used as a supplement to boost the immune system. 


    Eucalyptus leaves and roots were once made into a tea infusion to care for coughs, flu, fever, and sore throats. Today, it is frequently found in essential oils, cough drops, and air fresheners. 


    Fennel has the flavor of licorice. It was brewed into a tea to treat coughs, colds, and sore throats. Fennel was also used for digestive issues and headaches. 


    Feverfew was used to treat headaches, migraines, fevers, muscle pain, and digestion. It is still used today. 


    Feverwort gets its name because of its effectiveness in treating fevers. It was brewed into a tea for fever, itching, and rashes. It could also be used to make a poultice. 

    Ginger Root 

    Ginger root has been used medicinally for centuries . It has been used for culinary flavoring and treats nausea, inflammation, cold and flu, and even joint pain. 


    Ginseng is used today to boost mental focus and energy. However, it was traditionally used to boost the immune system, lung function and treat fatigue. 

    Herbs for Stress Relief


    This wild plant is blamed for the misery of allergy sufferers but was once used as medicine. It was used both as a tea and as a salve. Goldenrod was thought to treat cold, flu, bronchitis, sore throats. It was also used as a topical treatment for minor cuts and wounds. 


    As kids, we sucked the sweet nectar out of honeysuckle blooms. Today, however, we know that the berries of honeysuckle bushes can be toxic. Traditionally, though, the honeysuckle bush was used as medicine. 

    It was used for treating respiratory problems such as asthma and pneumonia. It was also used for hepatitis and rheumatoid arthritis. 


    Lavender is one of the most used herbal remedies today. It was – and still is – used to treat problems like anxiety, depression, headache, and even fatigue. This plant is distilled to make essential oils that have anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. In addition, the dried flowers and buds can be brewed into a tea to create a relaxing beverage. 


    The roots and leaves of the licorice plant can be used to treat coughs, colds, and digestion issues. The leaves can be chewed to treat a toothache, as well. In the past, licorice candy was made from the roots of this plant. However, today’s licorice is often flavored with anise instead. 


    Native Americans used mint in tea form to soothe upset stomachs and other digestive problems. In addition, a salve was made from the leaves to relieve itchiness and rashes. Today, we use mint for focus and to relieve headaches. Mint tea is delicious and relaxing, and mint leaves are made into an extract for flavoring culinary dishes. 


    Mullein is often treated as an unwanted weed, but it makes a great addition to your natural first aid kid. First, mullein is a natural and soft toilet paper. Second, the leaves of mullein can be applied topically to relieve the pain of wounds and insect bites. Third, the soft leaves make a great antibacterial bandage. Finally, a poultice of the leaves and flowers can reduce the pain and inflammation of bruises, sprains, and broken bones. 

    Mullein is great for the garden, fixing nitrogen, and reducing erosion. 

    Prickly Pear Cactus

    Both the pads and the fruit of prickly pear cacti are edible. But this plant is also made into medicine. For example, the pads can be made into a poultice with antiseptic properties to treat wounds and burns. The cactus was also made into a tea to boost the immune and treat urinary tract infections. Today, it is thought that prickly pear cactus can reduce cholesterol and the incidence of diabetes. 

    Red Clover 

    Today, red clover is frequently grown as a cover crop. While it is an excellent source of animal feed, it was once used to treat respiratory issues and heart disease. In addition, it is thought to improve circulation. 


    Sage has a history of being used to clear away negative energies and used in culinary dishes. However, Native Americans, considering the plant sacred, also used it for colds and flu and for treating cuts and bruises. 

    Slippery Elm

    This plant had practical purposes as well as medicinal uses. For example, the inner bark was used to make thread and rope. However, the bark and leaves could be made into tea which was then used for issues such as sore throats, toothaches, stomach problems, and spider bites. 

    Herbs to Aid Digestion


    A member of the mint family, spearmint was used to treat coughs, respiratory issues, colds, and diarrhea. It is often used in flavoring mints today. 


    Sumac was used to treat eye problems. It was made into a decoction to treat sore throats, as well. 

    Valerian Root 

    Valerian root was frequently made into a tea to produce a calming and sedative effect. It was also used to treat aches and pains. 

    White Pine

    Pine needle tea was made as a nutritious drink high in vitamin C. White pine was also used to treat chest congestion and coughs. 


    Yarrow is a flowering plant that was used to stop bleeding. A poultice was made from the plant to help blood blot more quickly. Tea made from this plant was used as an astringent. Yarrow juice and water were used to treat stomach problems. 

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