Medicine According to
The Old Ones say that at one time all of
Creation spoke the same language. The plants could communicate with
the finned ones, the four-leggeds could speak with the trees, the
stones could talk with the wind, and even the most dependent, most
pitiful part of creation, the two-leggeds, or as we have come to call
ourselves, the humans, could also speak with the other parts of
creation. All existed in harmony. The plants, the animals, and the
elements of the Four Directions (all existence) all knew that if the
two-leggeds were to survive, they would need help.
The animals gave of themselves, willingly
sacrificing, so that the humans could have food. They knew that their
skins were much better suited to survival than that of the humans, so
they allowed their skins to be taken and used for clothing and
shelter. The Finned ones, The Fliers, and the Crawlers also allowed
themselves to be used by the humans, to insure their survival.
The Plant people, the Standing people
(trees), and the Stone People (rocks) freely gave of themselves so
that the humans had what they needed for food, clothing, and shelter.
An agreement was forged that the two-leggeds would ask permission for
these gifts, give thanks for the sacrifice, and take no more than they
needed. And so, it was good.
But then, the two-leggeds started growing in numbers, and began to
feel themselves more important than the rest of creation. They began
to believe that the Web of Life revolved around them, ignoring the
fact that they were just one small part of the Circle. The two-leggeds
began to kill without asking for permission. They began to take more
than they needed. They ceased to give thanks. All parts of the
agreement were broken.
The great Animal Councils banded together to determine what they
should do to right these wrongs. They needed to protect themselves
from destruction and eradication. And so, it was decreed by the
council, if one of their clan was killed by the two-leggeds and thanks
was not given for the sacrifice, the Chief Animal Spirit would afflict
the disrespectful killer with a devastating disease.
The plants were distressed and said to the animals, "They wrong us,
too. They dig us up, trample us, burn us out, and don't even listen
when we try to tell them what we can do to help them. Yet, we feel
compassion for the two-leggeds. Man struggles to realize his place in
the web of creation and he cannot learn if he is wiped out by disease.
Man needs our help, so for every disease you animals bring to them,
we, the Plant People will give them a cure. All the two-leggeds have
to do is ' listen' when we talk to them."
The Circle of Medicine
Here eat this root.
1000 AD That root is heathen. Here, say this prayer.
That prayer is superstition. Here, drink this potion.
That potion is snake oil. Here, swallow this pill.
That pill is ineffective. Here, take this antibiotic.
That antibiotic doesn't work anymore. Here, eat this root!
The above courtesy
Like numerous other Native American tribes, the knowledge of
medicine was handed down from generation to generation to the "chosen" healers. Traditional
members consulted their medicine people for not only medical problems,
but also dilemmas in their lives, and emotional problems. Like other
Native American tribes, their most frequently used remedies were for
common colds, aches and pains.
Some common herbs used by the
as well as other Native American tribes was boneset tea, as a remedy
for colds, while wild cherry bark was used for coughs, sore throat,
and diarrhea. To ease the pain during childbirth and speed the
delivery process, Blue Cohosh root, was used in a tea. Using Wild
Carrot Blossoms and Devil's Club could offset the ill effects of
Diabetes. Fevers were soothed with teas made from Dogwood, Feverwort,
and Willow bark. A still famously enjoyed Pennyroyal tea was thought
to cure headaches, and they used Native Hemlock to help with the flu.
Some serious surgeries that required sedatives would usually be
prepared with Wild Lettuce, Hops, and Wild Black Cherry. Heart and
circulatory problems were addressed using Green Hellebore, American
Hemp, and Dogbane. Many of these Native American remedies were the
basis for the modern medicines that are commonly used today such as
The information above is courtesy of the
Cherokee Nation Cultural Resource Center who cautions that it must
be remembered that these plants are very valuable as medicines because
of the great chemical powers they contain. At the same time, these
chemicals can be potentially dangerous if used in the wrong way.
herbalists have great experience, and have gone through extensive
training and observation.
Cherokee Inspired Natural Remedies
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All plants are our
brothers and sisters.
They talk to us and if we listen, we can hear