Native American herbal remedies

algonquian, algonquian indian

These native American herbal remedies were used by the Algonquian tribes of the northeastern United States, namely:

  • the Montagnais of the upper and lower regions of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the St. Lawrence River
  • the Penobscot and especially the Wabanaki group of northern New England and maritime provinces of Canada
  • the Mohegan of southern New England

How the native Americans used herbal remedies

The Algonquian tribes of the northeastern United States generally used single herbs, not herbal blends or recipes. Herbs were given as medicines and it was not generally known which were most effective.

Herbal remedies were based on folklore involving stories of animals and plants. Often an herb was thought to be effective because its appearance bore similarities to the condition for which treatment was needed. For example, worm root resembles worms, and so was used to treat cases of worms in the body.

The use of medicinal herbs was not accompanied by healing rituals as it was in other Native American tribes who populated other sections of the United States. Each member of the Algonquian tribe was brought up with an understanding of herbal remedies and generally used the herbs on an individual basis without formal ceremony.

Herbal remedies listed by condition

Cholera - Root of sweet flag (Acorus calamus) also called "muskrat root." This root was also chewed for general health and vitality.

Scabs, sores, abscesses - Spruce gum and balsam sap

Ulcers - barberry (Berberis vulgare) and also, golden thread (Coptis trifolia), Prince's pine (Chimaphila umellata) and acorns of white oak

Fertility in women - Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium)

Worms (internal) - Worm root (Apocynum cannabium)

Fits, epilepsy - Snake root (Aristolchia serpentaria)

Bloody cough, bleeding from lungs - Slippery elm bark

Blood purifier - "Bear berries" or mountain ash (Sorbus americana)

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