The indigenous tribes of America have relied on the healing powers of herbs for generations. Now it’s time to take a deeper look at 7 Native American herbal remedies and the powerful health benefits that they can provide.
What you may not know is that these herbal remedies are a sacred and highly prized possession mainly because of their natural healing potential. The American Indians held information about the use and benefits of the plants so close to their bosom that sharing was prohibited, even among the different tribes.
In this article, I will let you in on the potential health benefits of the following Native American healing herbs:
- Black Cohosh: hot flashes (menopause), fever, pain, arthritis, rheumatism
- Echinacea: immunity, common cold, skin problems
- American Ginseng: cognitive performance, immunity, stress, cancer
- Yarrow: wounds and cuts, respiratory infections, skin conditions, anxiety, insomnia
- Saw Palmetto: urinary tract and prostate, libido, hair loss
- Nettle: digestion, allergies, pain and inflammation, high blood pressure
- Devil’s club: muscle and joint pain, skin conditions, cancer
Different indigenous tribes have used these seven medicinal plants for generations and some of them form the basis of many modern medicines and remedies. These herbs provided a natural way to boost immunity and relieve a list of maladies including headache, pain, cough, fever, rashes, and nausea.
Historians believe the knowledge of herbal medicine is culturally guarded because it held natural healing secrets for common ailments that doctors treat with pharmaceutical drugs today. Inevitably, the secrets of these sacred remedies were eventually revealed and scientists began studying certain plants to understand their uses and healing properties.
Where to Find These Healing Herbs
When you are reading about all these interesting herbs, you will probably want to try some of them. One option is to follow in the footsteps of the tribes and collect the herbs from the wild.
However, this requires some advanced skills to make sure you are picking up the right plant. You also need to know how to prepare the herbs before using them. And of course, that particular herb has to be available in the area where you are living.
A more convenient way to use these healing herbs is to buy ready-made teas and supplements. To make things easier, I have listed the best products available for each herb in this article.
Also, there are a few things to consider before you begin using any of the herbs. Some herbal supplements may interact with prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs as well as other herbal products. While using these plants is generally considered safe, if you are on medication or suffer from chronic illness, you should always speak with your doctor or a qualified health-care practitioner before taking any herbal supplements.
Black cohosh, Actaea racemosa, is a flowering plant native to eastern North America. It is a member of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) and goes by other names such as squaw root, snakeroot, rattleroot, and bugbane.
Native Americans value this herb for its ability to treat conditions such as fever, pain, arthritis, rheumatism, and rattlesnake bite.
Traditionally it has been used for gynecological conditions as the name “squaw root” implies. It can be used for various symptoms related to menstruation, perimenopause, and menopause, and to stimulate menstrual flow.
There is scientific evidence to support the medicinal claims of black cohosh. It is especially effective for treating hot flashes which can last for years leading up to (perimenopause) and during the period of menopause. They can cause extreme discomfort and are responsible for insomnia, anxiety, and reduced quality of life for many women.
A study from 2018 tested the efficacy of black cohosh for treating hot flashes and suggests the plant is very useful for treating this symptom. The study was carried out on 80 postmenopausal women who were given the herb for 8 weeks. The researchers concluded that black cohosh was effective in reducing the severity of hot flashes and improving the quality of life of the participants.
Since black cohosh has an effect on female hormones, it can also help with regulating estrogen production in women. The results of one study recognize that using this herb is a potential preventative measure against breast cancer initiation and progression.
Native herbal doctors also used this herb to induce labor. Thus, it is not recommended for pregnant women because it can cause labor to start unintentedly.
Black cohosh can be used as an extract, dried root in tablets, tinctures, herbal teas, and several other forms.
Here are my recommended black cohosh products:
- Buddha Teas Organic Black Cohosh Tea: This high-quality herbal tea has a smooth earthy taste and consists of 100% organic black cohosh root.
- Nature’s Way Black Cohosh Root Capsules: If you prefer taking this herb in a capsule, then I recommend ordering these GMO and gluten-free capsules from Amazon.
Echinacea purpurea, also called American coneflower, is another Native American medicinal herb worthy of mention. There are nine species of the plant used by the tribes of the Great Plains region.
Two common species are Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea angustifolia. This herb is also widely used today and its effectiveness has been confirmed by several studies.
The flowers, leaves, and roots of this powerful plant have wide-ranging health benefits because of its anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties.
Native American tribes, including the Kiowa and Cheyenne, traditionally used echinacea to treat cold symptoms such as coughs and sore throat. They chewed the roots or used dried roots to make a tea that has anti-viral properties. They also used coneflower as a natural remedy for high blood pressure, pain, and inflammation.
A lot of research has been conducted on echinacea to determine its therapeutic value and efficacy in treating symptoms of the common cold and upper respiratory tract infections. Based on a review of 16 studies this herb can help with preventing and treating upper respiratory infections like the cold.
There are several other studies supporting the effectiveness of echinacea as a flu medicine. Taking echinacea at the onset of cold the duration of symptoms can be reduced significantly. It can also lower the risk of recurrent respiratory infections and related complications.
Today, herbalists, naturopathic doctors, and consumers use echinacea as a dietary supplement and alternative remedy to prevent and treat common cold symptoms. The herb’s incredible healing properties seem to stimulate immune system function and improve the body’s ability to effectively fight off infection. One research suggests the plant can be an alternative way to fight cancer because of the powerful phytochemicals it contains.
In addition to ingesting this herb as an extract or tea, echinacea preparations can also be used topically (applied to the skin) to treat wounds, rashes, and other skin problems.
Here are the best echinacea products available on Amazon:
- Traditional Medicinals Organic Echinacea Plus Tea: I can warmly recommend this tasty tea for boosting your immunity and to avoid getting sick. It also contains a small amount of spearmint and lemongrass.
- Nature’s Bounty Echinacea Capsules: These affordable and effective capsules are the easiest way to enjoy the health benefits of echinacea.
- Horbaach Echinacea Liquid Extract: One great way to get your dose of this immune-boosting herbs is to mix a few drops of liquid extract with a glass of water or juice.
American ginseng, Panax quinquefolius, is treasured as one of the most remarkable Native American herbal remedies and is one of the top 5 most important medicines for the Seneca tribe. The herb is a member of the Araliaceae plant family and is different from Asian or Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng) and Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus).
American ginseng served as a natural medicine for the indigenous people who used it for thousands of years as a remedy for fever, swelling, stress, erectile dysfunction, and enhancing the sex drive of men and women.
Unlike Asian ginseng with its “warming” properties, the Traditional Chinese Medicine classifies American ginseng as “cooling” or calming (yin) tonic that can be used for treating stress-related problems.
This plant has wide-ranging benefits including powerful anti-cancer properties. Research on American ginseng root suggests that it has the potential to combat cancer, particularly colorectal cancer. Other studies find American ginseng to have anti-diabetic, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory effects on the body. There is evidence that it can lower blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes and shorten the duration of cold and flu symptoms.
American ginseng is also capable of boosting the performance of immune cells to help protect the body against certain infections and diseases. A study from 2017 suggests using ginseng you can have a higher chance of disease-free life.
Last, but not least, research indicates that it can be used to boost mental energy levels and cognitive performance. As such, scientists are eyeing it as a potential herbal remedy for conditions that cause reduced cognitive abilities, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
You can find some excellent American ginseng products on Amazon:
- Baumann American Ginseng Tea: This first-rate ginseng tea is made from American grown ginseng and has a nice and slightly sweet taste.
- NOW Supplements American Ginseng Capsules: Get a proper dose of ginseng with these affordable and high-quality capsules.
- American Ginseng Tincture: If you prefer taking your ginseng in a fast absorbed liquid form then this is the best option.
Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, is a fragrant flowering plant and one of the most widely used medicinal plants in the world. The plant, also called soldier’s woundwort, got its name based on a story that the Greek hero Achilles used it on his wounds.
The indigenous North American peoples have collected the flowers, leaves, and stems of this plant and used them primarily for treating wounds, cuts, reducing excess bleeding, respiratory infections, skin conditions, anxiety, and insomnia.
Yarrow also has other beneficial effects on health including sedative and digestive. For example, the Indians have traditionally mixed fresh yarrow juice with water to relieve an upset stomach and other gastrointestinal problems. Sometimes the tribes used the leaves of the plant to make a liquid they used as an astringent.
Yarrow is touted for its wound and skin-healing abilities because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology tested the anti-inflammatory potential of yarrow oil extract in the topical application and found that it had an evident anti-inflammatory property. Because of yarrow’s positive impact on the skin pH and its anti-inflammatory agents, it can help with treating several skin conditions.
Gathering from the results of various studies, this herb could be a promising natural remedy for high blood pressure and anxiety as well. Researchers evaluated the anxiolytic-like effects of the extract of yarrow and found that it has anti-anxiety effects similar to those present in diazepam, a drug commonly prescribed to treat anxiety.
Saw palmetto, Serenoa repens, is a type of palm tree that grows in the southeastern United States. North American Indian tribes traditionally used the berries of this plant for abdominal pain, digestion, inflammation, and a variety of urinary tract ailments in men. Some of them believed the berries increased testosterone levels, sperm production, and libido in men.
A clinical trial was done on 92 elderly Chinese men with lower urinary tract symptoms associated with benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) or non-cancerous enlarged prostate. They were given palmetto soft gel capsules (Prostataplex) for 12 weeks. The results of the trials state that palmetto may have short-term effects on improving urinary tract symptoms.
There is also evidence that this herbal medicine can play a role in preventing prostate cancer by slowing down the conversion of testosterone into a potent androgen hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
According to a 2009 study saw palmetto may also benefit men and women experiencing alopecia (hair loss). The participants of the study showed an increase in hair density after three months of using lotion and shampoo containing Serenoa repens (SR) extract.
Today, herbal supplements made from the dried berries and tablets made from saw palmetto extract are available on the market. They are commonly used to balance hormones in men, improve prostate health, and prevent hair loss.
I recommend Buddha Teas Organic Saw Palmetto Tea as the best option for making a smooth and flavorful cup of healthy natural remedy. If you prefer a supplement, try these saw palmetto capsules available on Amazon.
Nettle is another herb that has definitely earned its place in my list of Native American herbal remedies. Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) belongs to the family Urticaceae and has a long history of medicinal use among the American Indians.
It looks like an ordinary plant but has an abundance of healing potential due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capabilities as well as a wide range of phytochemicals found in various parts of the plant.
Urtica dioica was traditionally used to treat skin ailments such as eczema and psoriasis. Ceremonially, men rubbed nettle on their bodies to protect them during hunting although it produces a stinging sensation.
The Cherokee used the root for an upset stomach while other tribes used it for coughs, colds, inflammation, high blood pressure, and joint pain (rheumatism). Native herbal doctors also gave nettle to pregnant women to prevent hemorrhaging while breastfeeding moms used it to encourage milk flow.
Modern-day scientific studies have demonstrated that the stinging nettle is a herb with an ability to fight diabetes, cancer, urinary tract infection, non-cancerous prostate enlargement, and high blood pressure. It can also be used to treat seasonal allergies. One study confirmed the antihypertensive effects of this plant and suggests it as a possible medicine for managing high blood pressure.
Recommended nettle products:
- Buddha Teas Organic Nettle Leaf Tea: Try this smooth tasting nettle leaf tea and feel its natural healing power!
- Real Herbs Stinging Nettle Root Extract Capsules: This highly potent, US-made product is excellent for promoting urinary tract and prostate health.
- Nature’s Answer Liquid Nettles Extract: A great option, if you want to use a nettle leaf product that is easy to digest.
Finally, the indigenous herb devil’s club (Oplopanax horridus), also called the devil’s walking stick, is a sacred shrub of the Natives in western North America. They chewed the root, brewed the bark to make a therapeutic tea, or prepared a poultice, and used it for a plethora of things including for spiritual protection.
Medicinally, the inner bark and roots of devil’s club were used for colds, tuberculosis, diabetes, digestive problems, skin disorders, as well as arthritis pain and inflammation.
This is not surprising considering phytochemical research revealed that the plant has antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, and antimycobacterial properties. However, the most extensive studies on the devil’s club were done to assess its ability to fight cancer. There were indications that the root bark extract can inhibit the growth of certain cancer cells.
You can use Snowy Summit Devil’s Club Salve and massage it on achy joints and muscles to reduce pain and inflammation. It is also effective in treating rashes, small cuts, and insect bites.
Another great product is Herb Pharm Devil’s Club Liquid Extract made from the root bark of Oplopanax horridus wildcrafted in the Pacific Northwest.
Use These Native American Herbal Remedies for Your Benefit
Now that the secrets of these Native American medicinal herbs have been unlocked, you can start using them to boost your immunity, enhance your cognitive capabilities, and to treat various health problems.
Many people use herbs as medicine instead of medication as first-line treatment. This makes sense as these natural remedies provide a safe and effective way to better health. Why use drugs when you can use herbs instead and avoid the short and long-term side effects associated with medicinal drugs.
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Use the power of Sacred Herbs and stay healthy!
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