The Cherokee Nation is a Native American tribe that hails from Oklahoma and surrounding American states.
Cherokees believe that they were given herbs and plants by their Creator, gifts which allowed them to treat and cure illnesses and ailments (1). These plants were plants for healing various illnesses and so the Cherokees had great respect for plants.
Herbal medicine has been practiced by Cherokee and other Native American healers for hundreds of years (2).
Their extensive knowledge of the healing properties of regional herbs and plants was handed down from one generation to another via specially chosen healers and shamans.
They used a unique gathering method, picking only every third plant in order to ensure that the plants they relied on might continue to grow for generations to come.
Today, many of the herbs and plants that the Cherokee once used have grown scarce due to overconsumption and damage to the land. “Nature’s pharmacy” is slowly being depleted.
If you decide to gather any of the following wild herbs and plants, please be gentle and selective so that the plant may continue to proliferate.
11 Healing Plants Used In Native American Medicine
Before you read on, remember that these plants contain potent chemical compounds that can be dangerous if not used properly.
Instead, purchase plants that have been harvested by knowledgeable hands and take them under the guidance of a licensed naturopath.
Other names: Hummingbird Blossom, Oregon Teatree, Redstem Ceanoathus, Mountain Lilac, Snowbush, Jersey Tea
Buckbrush root was used by traditional Cherokee healers as a medicinal substance with diuretic properties. It was traditionally used to stimulate proper kidney function.
Members of the same plant family also have been used to treat mouth and throat ailments, inflammation, and cysts and tumors, along with specific health issues such as inflamed tonsils, childbirth aftercare, hemorrhoids, swollen spleens, and swollen lymph nodes (3, 4).
It is easiest to consume in a tea form. Bring water to a boil, then steep the roots and bark in water for approximately five minutes. Drink immediately.
Today, mint is frequently consumed in beverages, including both tea and iced tea. But what most people don’t know is that it is a powerful antioxidant that also contains vitamins A and C, as well as phosphorus, calcium, potassium and magnesium (5,6)
The Cherokee drank mint tea to stimulate the digestive system and lower blood pressure. They crushed mint leaves to create salves and ointment and used mint in baths to relieve rashes and itching.
Other names (7): Squirrel Tail, Nosebleed Plant, Old Man’s Repper, Devil’s Nettle, Thousand-Leaf, Thousand-Seal
Yarrow has blood-clotting properties, which can help a minor wound to form a scab and heal. When ingested with water, it can help to reduce tissue inflammation, especially in the intestines and digestive tract (8).
Cherokee healers used yarrow for all these ailments and more. Prepared as a tea, yarrow was believed to help improve the function of the kidneys and gallbladder. A concoction of leaves and stems was also applied topically to treat skin conditions such as dry skin and acne.
4. Wild Ginger
Other names: Big Stretch, Colic Root, Cat’s Foot, Heart-Leaf, Asarbacca, Nuyigala dinadanesgi utana
Wild Ginger has been used by a wide variety of Native American tribes for medicinal purposes (9). The Cherokee Nation drank a mild infusion of wild ginger in order to stimulate digestion.