Pic White Sage
Are you aware of the fact that Native Americans lived in this country for thousands of years and never had one case of many of the common illnesses we face daily? I believe the reason they were healthier is because they lived off the land and used herbs and other plants as their food and medicine. These herbs are still available to us and can be found in your local pharmacy, health-food store or at many websites online.
Let’s take a look at seven of the herbs used by these healthy people:
1. Arnica – This herb was used by Native Americans for joint pain and muscle aches. Modern research has determined that this herb stops inflammation and contains a natural pain reliever (caffeoylquinic acid). A study performed in Great Britain found that it also reduces pain and stiffness associated with carpel tunnel syndrome. In addition, this wondrous substance boosts circulation to injured tissue. For this purpose buy it in a topical gel or cream form and rub it into skin where you have scrapes or bruises.
2. Black cohosh – This herb mimics estrogen and helps balance hormones. Studies have found that it relieves PMS symptoms, including irritability and menstrual cramps. No doubt, this is the reason the Algonquins named it “cramp bark.” It also helps ease menopausal symptoms in older women such as hot flashes and night sweats. This herb is thought to be as effective as prescription hormone therapy, minus the adverse side-effects. On top of these benefits, a new study suggests that this herb may cut the risk of developing breast cancer by as much as 60%.
3. Sagebrush – Native Americans often burned this herb to purify the air at ceremonies. Come to find out, this plant contains several ingredients which have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. When it is burned, the space around it is sanitized as these ingredients are released into the air. When these ingredients are breathed into the lungs and enter the bloodstream, they can kill harmful germs. By the way, the plant we’re talking about here grows wild in the western US and is not related to the spice used in cooking.
4. Saw Palmetto – By now probably everyone knows that saw palmetto can cut the risk of prostate cancer, but recently it has been discovered that when used by women, it gets rid of facial hair. It is responsible for these two seemingly unrelated benefits because it balances the body’s hormones. It is also being used to help some patients who have polycystic ovary syndrome.
5. Stinging nettle – New research indicates that this herb has many benefits and that it is 50% more effective at overcoming nasal allergies than the most popular over-the-counter meds. It seems that this herb impedes the production of histamine, which is a chemical produced by the immune system that causes congestion, sneezing and other related allergy symptoms. It is a natural pain reliever and anti-inflammatory, as well, and helps shrink swollen nasal passages.
6. White Willow – Native Americans made tea from this herb and drank it to ease aches and pains. The bark of this plant contains salicin, which is the same chemical in aspirin that is responsible for the relief of pain. There is a difference in how the same substance from two different sources is absorbed by the body: aspirin works faster, while white willow relieves pain longer. An added benefit of white willow is that it doesn’t irritate the stomach. You can either drink this as a tea or take it in capsule form.
7. Yarrow – The Navaho called this tiny flower “life medicine,” and it contains ingredients that can numb pain on contact. It also contains natural coagulants that help stop bleeding from wounds. It is also an antiseptic and kills surface bacteria. The Cherokee bathed in the leaves of this plant after battles to help speed healing time. It can also be used for skin rashes and conditions like eczema. Look for it in your health food store in cream or ointment form.
Native Americans were very attuned to the land and discovered the medicinal properties of these wondrous herbs which helped keep them healthy. The real beauty of using these herbs is that they don’t produce the adverse side-effects of prescription and over-the-counter medications. I don’t know about you, but that’s enough for me to give these a try if the need arises.