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Native American Remedies That We Lost to History

There are countless Native American remedies that we still use today.

If you’ve ever brewed a cup of mint tea to calm an upset stomach or put some lavender on your pillow to help you sleep a bit better, then you’re already familiar with many of them.

However, there are also a few Native American remedies that have fallen by the wayside. Here are some of the most interesting.

Native American Remedies That We Lost to History

Sumac (Rhus typhina)
native american remedies that we lost to history - sumac

Staghorn Sumac is a shrub and small tree that is found in most places within North America. Many parts of the plant, from the berries to the leaves, were used by Native American tribes.

Believe it or not, it is one of the few that Native Americans used to address eye problems.

In addition to treating vision issues and eye discomfort, sumac was also used in a gargle to relieve sore throats and as an ingested treatment to stop diarrhea.

It could also be used as a poultice to alleviate the itching and discomfort from poison ivy rashes.

To use as an ingested treatment, add a handful of berries to two cups of cold water. Let it sit overnight in a cool place – don’t heat it or it will become bitter. Drink as needed.

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
native american remedies that we lost to history - red clover

Considered a weed by many, red clover was highly valued by many Native American tribes. It was used to treat inflammation and various respiratory problems.

Combine 1 tsp red clover flowers with a cup of boiling water and honey, to taste. Drink as needed.

Cattails (Typha latifolia)
native american remedies that we lost to history -cattails

Cattails are found just about everywhere.

As long as there’s water, you’re likely to find cattails.

Cattails were used as a major food source by many tribes but were also used to prevent a variety of illnesses, including respiratory ailments.

Harvest cattails in the spring. Discard the outer two leaves and eat the inside – you can eat the entire inner core of the cattail and it offers medicinal benefits.

⇒ The Native American Superfood That Saved American Settlers (Video)

Buckbrush (Ceanothus cuneatus)
native American remedies that we lost to history -buckbrush

Several Native American tribes reportedly used buck brush to treat cysts, tumors, and inflammation.

It could also treat sores, wounds, and various mouth and throat conditions.

Once a substitute for black tea, it has now more or less fallen by the wayside.

To make a tea, combine one cup of boiling water with 2 tsp of ground buck brush. Heat and drink as needed.

Blackberry Root (Rubus)
native American remedies that we lost to history -blackberries

You’re likely already aware of how delicious the fruits of blackberries are – especially in jams or pies. But what you might not know is how other parts of the plant also have healing powers.

Blackberry root can be mixed with honey or syrup to heal a sore throat, while the leaves of the plant can be chewed to heal bleeding gums.

Greenbriar (Smilax rotundifolia)

The roots of the Greenbriar plant, also referred to as “pull out a sticker” were often used in a poultice to relieve joint pain.

The Greenbriar plant could also be processed by the Native American tribes into a salve that was applied to treat sores and burns.

Harvest leaves and allow them to wilt by heating them briefly on the stovetop. Apply the cooled leaves directly to the skin to relieve joint pain.

Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens)

The Native American tribes of Florida – including the Seminole – once used the saw palmetto plant for food. However, it was also valued as a treatment for abdominal pain, indigestion, and inflammation.

To make a saw palmetto tea, combine 2 tablespoons of berries with 1 cup of hot water.

Wild Rose (Rosa acicularis)

Very few of us grow roses for anything beyond their ornamental value – they’re beautiful to look at. However, the petals from a wild rose can also be used to treat a sore throat and as a diuretic.

To make a wild rose tea, combine 1 tablespoon of young rose buds with a cup of boiling water.

Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra)

The slippery elm is a plant with many applications, particularly to Native Americans.

Its fibrous inner bark was used to make materials like thread, rope, bowstrings, and even clothing.

However, medicine men also used the slippery elm leaves and bark to make a tea that could soothe sore throats, stomach aches, and a long list of other conditions as well.

Make a slippery elm tea by combining 1 tbsp of powdered bark with a cup of boiling water along with 2 oz of coconut milk and 1 tbsp blackstrap molasses (for better flavor). Stir well and enjoy!

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

An uncommon plant, ashwagandha has many medicinal uses. It was once used to treat bone and muscle weakness along with rheumatism, memory loss, and, oddly enough, loose teeth.

Because ashwagandha has a rejuvenating effect, it is often used to provide energy.

If you decide to give this remedy a try, exercise caution – it can be toxic.

Grind ashwagandha root to a powder. Combine ½ teaspoon of the powder to a ½ cup of milk and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, allow to cool, then drink. Do not consume more than one serving per day.

Black Gum Bark (Nyssa sylvatica)

Although this tree isn’t common, Cherokees once used the bark and twigs to make a mild tea that could relieve chest pains.

Combine 1 tsp of crushed bark or twigs with a cup of boiling water. Sweeten to taste with honey. Drink as needed.

Consider giving some of these Native American remedies a try – although history has made us forget about some of them.

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I have a friend with migraines. Another friend suggested sodium deficiency as a common cause and suggested drinking water with a little salt added could help the migraine. However my friend with the migraines said she has been told not to eat salt because it would cause water retention and aggravate eclampsia. What, then, is good for migraines?

A chiropractor. Migraines are caused by the spine being out of alignment in the neck area.I never believed in it until all else failed for a back injury. Just try it, at worst it won’t work, and you are out a few dollars but 99% chance it will, judging by my own experience as well as numerous others.

Not always. Often food allergies can trigger them.

 I worked in a factory years ago and I would get migraines every time we got a new shipment of pallets/skids. They had been sprayed with some kind of pesticide. It would happen approximately three hours after the pallet delivery, when I got home to sleep it off all evening up to around eleven pm,and then I was okay again. I would suggest your friend write down as many possible factors as she can and see what is the common denominator. Is it the environment,, is it when she eats certain foods, make up, or mold etc. Could do a search and see what others have found out.

ps Why doesn’t deliver to Canada anymore. I tried to order the seed packets and also the latest book. I have received the two previous books. I wrote an email and have not received a reply. Thanks and take care all. 

Hi John,

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience with us.

Unfortunately, the Medicinal Garden Kit can be shipped within the USA only due to customs rules and regulations.
Also, your email will be answered as soon as possible. Thank you so much for your patience!

Many blessings and good health!

There were many triggers for my frequent debilitating migraines. I eventually followed the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) for a few months, then gradually reintroduced foods. Even though some of my triggers were not food related, I no longer get migraines.

Your friend should avoid processed salt. Himalayan pink salt could be used. There is a big difference.

I believe that migraines are of different types with different causes and therefore different treatments. Your friend will need to explore to see what works for them.

I used a tincture of St. John’s wort. That put me to sleep so that I did not suffer. Eventually, I did not suffer from migraines anymore. Perhaps this was from a change in hormone balance with age?

Hi Brian,

We’re sorry to hear your friend is going through this!
Maybe this article could be helpful:

Many blessings and good health!

Under the Saw Palmetto entry, what “berries” are to be used?

Hi Nancy,

Thank you for your question.
The flowers of the saw palmetto will flourish into a yellow berry the size of an olive. The fleshy berry will turn into a darker red as it matures, and bluish-black when ripe.
You can read more about this plant here:

Many blessings and good health!

These people you are referring to as native Americans are not native to the Americas.

I have what is considered daily migraines and cervical-occipital neuralgia. For the OCN, I get Occipital Nerve Blocks. I have yet been able to find a home remedy for them. My migraine triggers are strong smells and loud noises.

Hi Heather,

We’re sorry to hear you’re going through this and we hope you’ll soon find a remedy that works for you.
Maybe you will find something useful in these articles:

Many blessings and good health!

Why does this book just sell to USA and Canada? I live in Sweden and can’t bye it. You should have pdf alternatives for people outside those 2 countries.

There is a European herb remedy book. I recently bought one.

Hi Jane,

Thank you for your interest in our products! We do ship some of our books to Europe as well! Just send us an email at mentioning the books you’d like to purchase and we’ll be sure to help you as soon as possible.

Many blessings and good health!

I’d like to know if there’s a remedy for lead poisoning my son got shot and I believe they left some lead in his ankle. It is swollen and red..

Hi Alicia,

We’re so sorry to hear that! We hope your son will heal soon.
It is best to have him checked by a healthcare professional regarding this.

Many blessings and good health!

I made a solution for fleas. It was apple cider vinegar and an herb. Now I can’t find it in the book. It really worked! I need to find it to treat my other dog…I know it was a recipe from Native Americans

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