Cherokee Herbs

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Forums -> Herbalism -> Cherokee Herbs

Cherokee Herbs
Post # 1

The Cherokees use(d) a large variety of herbs for several different purposes. Below are two separate lists: though I do not claim that ALL the herbs that were used are listed, as I'm sure there was and is an enormous amount.
The following descriptions of herbs/etc below are taken straight from the Cherokee Nation Cultural Resource Center, as to ensure that these descriptions are most accurate:

One of the herbs known the longest time for soothing stomach problems is the blackberry. Using a strong tea from the roots is helpful is reducing and soothing swollen tissues and joints. An infusion from the leaves is also used as a tonic for stimulating the entire system. A decoction from the roots, sweetened with sugar or honey, makes a syrup used for an expectorant. It is also healing for sore throats and gums. The leaves can also be chewed fresh to soothe bleeding gums. The Cherokee historically use the tea for curing diarrhea.

Gum (Black Gum)
Cherokee healers use a mild tea made from small pieces of the bark and twigs to relieve chest pains.

Hummingbird Blossoms (Buck Brush)
This herb is used by Cherokee healers by making a weak decoction of the roots for a diuretic that stimulates kidney function.

Cat Tail (Cattail Reed)
This plant is not a healing agent, but is used for preventative medicine. It is an easily digestible food helpful for recovering from illness, as it is bland. Most all parts of the plant, except for the mature leaves and the seed head, are edible. Due to wide-spread growing areas, it is a reliable food source all across America. The root has a very high starch content, and can be gathered at any time. Preparation is very similar to potatoes, and can be mashed, boiled, or even mixed with other foods. The male plant provides a pollen that is a wonderful source for protein. You can add it as a supplement to other kinds of flour when making breads.

Pull Out a Sticker (Greenbriar)
A decoction of the small roots of this plant is useful as a blood purifier. It is also a mild diuretic. Some healers make a salve from the leaves and bark, mixed with hog lard, and apply to minor sores, scalds and burns. Some Cherokee healers also use the root tea for arthritis.

Mint teas are a stimulant for the stomach, as it aids in digestion. The crushed and bruised leaves can be used as a cold compress, made into a salve, or added to the bath water which relieves itching skin. Cherokee healers also use an infusion of the leaves and stems to lower high blood pressure.

Tobacco-like Plant (Mullein)
This is one of the oldest herbs, and some healers recommend inhaling the smoke from smoldering mullein roots and leaves to soothe asthma attacks and chest congestion. The roots can be made into a warm decoction for soaking swollen feet or reducing swelling in joints. It also reduces swelling from inflammation and soothes painful, irritated tissue. It is particularly useful to the mucous membranes. A tea can be made from the flowers for a mild sedative.

Qua lo ga (Sumac)
All parts of the common sumac have a medicinal use. Mild decoctions from the bark can be used as a gargle for sore throats, and may be taken for a remedy for diarrhea. A tea from the leaves and berries also reduces fevers. Fresh bruised leaves and ripe berries are made into a poultice which soothes poison ivy. A drink from the ripened or dried berries makes a pleasant beverage which is a good source of vitamin C.

Squirrel Tail, or Saloli gatoga (Yarrow)
Yarrow has many uses. The best known use is to stop excess bleeding. Freshly crushed leaves can be applied to open wounds or cuts, and the properties of the herb will cause the blood to clot. A fresh juice of yarrow, diluted with spring or distilled water, can held internal bleeding such as stomach and intestinal disorders. The leaves, prepared as a tea, is believed to stimulate intestinal functions and aid in digestion. It also helps the flow of the kidneys, as well as the gallbladder. A decoction made of the leaves and stems acts as an astringent, and is a wonderful wash for all kinds of skin problems such as acne, chapped hands, and other irritations.

Looks Like Coffee, or Kawi Iyusdi (Yellow Dock)
This plant is not only a medicinal herb, but also a food. It is much like spinach, but believe it or not, contains MORE vitamins and minerals. Because of the long taproot, it gathers nutrients from deep underground. The leaves are a source of iron, and also have laxative properties. Juices from the stems, prepared in a decoction, can be made into an ointment with beeswax and olive oil, and used for itching, minor sores, diaper rash, and other irritations. Cherokee herbalists prescribe a warm wash made from the decoction of crushed roots for a disinfectant. Juice from the root, not prepared in any certain way, is said to be a cure for ringworm.

Big Stretch, or Nuyigala dinadanesgi utana (Wild Ginger)
The Cherokee commonly recommend a mild tea of this herb, made from the rootstock which is a mild stimulant for the digestive system. It can also help colic, intestinal gas, or the common upset stomach. A strong, hot infusion of the roots can act as an expectorant in eliminating mucus from the lungs. Fresh wild ginger may be substituted for the regular store-bought ginger roots as a spice for cooking.

What Rabbits Eat, or Jisdu unigisdi (Wild Rose)
The ripe fruit of the Wild Rose is a rich source of Vitamin C, and is a reliable preventative and cure for the common cold. The tea from the hips is a mild diuretic, and stimulates the bladder and kidneys. When the infusion of the petals is used, it is an ancient remedy for sore throats. Cherokee healers recommend a decoction of the roots for diarrhea.

Willow bark
The bark of the branches is stripped and dried. A tea is made from the bark that is useful for aches, pains and headaches. This is the original aspirin !"

Other Native Herbs and Some of Their Uses.

Beech Bark: Treament of vomiting.
Bull Nettle:Stop teething babies from slobbering
Ground Ivy:Hives
Peach Leaves:Boils and risings
Rabbit Tobacco:For treating colds
Queen of the Meadow:Nausea at certain times
Ratbane:Typhoid fever
Red Alder:For treating High Blood.
Small Ragweed:Poison oak or ivy
Spignet:For treating backaches
Yellow Root:Sore mouth
Wild Cherry: Treatment of measles and colds

"Cherokee Cooklore" by Mary Chiltoskey
"The Swimmer Manuscript" by James Mooney

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Re: Cherokee Herbs
Post # 2
very informative post GoddessNox ^_^
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Re: Cherokee Herbs
By: / Knowledgeable
Post # 3
Great post. You forgot one important one we all know...garlic! Antiobiotic, antiviral, antifungal. It is a stock in my home! The minute I begin to feel ill, I eat two cloves (raw). If you're not used to such heated foods, you can boil them in chicken broth (covered) and drink the broth and eat the soft cooked garlic cloves.

There was a young boy (12yo) who had such a terrible illness. It caused him coughing fits and chest congestion which had him gasping for air. He had to sleep sitting up in bed. His mother took him to the doctors twice and no western medicine could cure it. He was near the brink of hospitalization. They had no idea what was wrong. I told his mother to take a full bulb of garlic (peeled and cut) and cook it in a large batch of chicken broth for at least 30-45min covered and have him drink it throughout the day and eat one or two of the cooked cloves. He recovered nearly entirely in two days after suffering for weeks. Within one week he was back to being a healthy kid.

Garlic is the only herb who's oils actually enter the lungs, attacking infection from the inside out. It also is carried through the blood, traveling throughout the entire body. That's why those who eat loads of garlic have garlic breath and even a garlic scent off the skin. The smell comes directly from the lungs and travels through the blood (leaving the skin through perspiration).

The only ones who need to worry about eating garlic medicinally are those who take blood thinners (including asprin as a daily regimen) or have blood disorders such as hemophilia.
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Re: Cherokee Herbs
By: Moderator / Adept
Post # 4
Two great posts on herbs! I "discovered" garlic when I was a teenager. A couple of times a week I have eaten a clove of garlic (Raw) ever since; and also used it for cooking just about every day! By the way, Chicken soup is commonly known as Jewish penicillin. (And don't forget to put in the celery!)
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Re: Cherokee Herbs
Post # 5
Oh goodness I can't believe I forgot garlic
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Re: Cherokee Herbs
Post # 6
Thank you whiterav3n.
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Re: Cherokee Herbs
Post # 7
Again a lovely post. And nice add on, Raven. Garlic is indeed a important and potent herb.
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