31 Long-Forgotten Native American Herbal Remedies For Illnesses

Forgotten Native American Herbal Remedies For Illnesses

When it comes to Native American Herbal Remedies, many of us are familiar with the benefits of Echinacea or purple coneflower as an antibiotic, willow bark as a pain killer, and aloe as a topical anesthetic and treatment for skin conditions. But that’s common knowledge compared to the insights and treatments that Native American medicine men discovered and used.

Native American medicine men developed a wheel of very similar to the yin/yang of Asian medicine. The use of herbal remedies and other alternative forms of treatment was the cutting-edge medicine of their day. This was a holistic approach to medical treatment that relied heavily on plants and their unique benefits.

What follows is list of indigenous plants, trees, fruits and flowers unique to North America that have surprising benefits as defined by Native American tribes.

If and when times are tough, it might be good to keep some of these ancient cures in mind. They also are good for everyday needs when you consider how effective some of them can be.

Licorice tea for a sore throat is a good example. It’s also interesting that many of these natural cures are still in use today, including beeswax and bee pollen, chamomile, and others. It’s a good demonstration of the benefit of wisdom developed over centuries.


It’s hard to know how Native Americans determined which plants might have medicinal properties, although trial and error was probably one approach. It’s also thought that they observed sick animals eating certain plants and determined that those plants must have a certain property worth exploring.  Since that time, scientific studies have verified the medicinal value of many plants. In fact, common aspirin is derived from salicin, a chemical in the inner bark of willow trees that was used in ancient times for fever and pain.

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These medicines were usually administered via teas or pastes that were either ingested or applied externally. Sometimes the plants were eaten as food or added to food or water. On occasion, a salve or poultice was applied to open wounds. I would strongly recommend that you avoid the latter, given the risk of infection from wild sources.

I’ve omitted many of the natural remedies. There was a use for mistletoe that I came across, but mistletoe is essentially poisonous and if not used properly the results could be counter-productive, if not deadly.

Related: 11 Plants Native Americans Use to Cure EVERYTHING (From joint pain to cancer)

I’ve also found a great deal of redundancy. It seems like everything is good for a cough or diarrhea. Rather than endlessly list plants that cure the same conditions over and over, I’ve tried to isolate this grouping to the most prevalent plants that you may find and recognize. As always, if you are pregnant, check with your doctor and do plenty of research before using any of these.

Here’s the list:

31 Indigenous plants, trees, fruits and flowers that were used as Herbal remedies by the Native American to treat different illnesses

1. Alfalfa:

Relieves digestion and is used to aid blood clotting. Contemporary uses included treatment of arthritis, bladder and kidney conditions, and bone strength. It enhances the immune system.

Related: Discover the Healing Power of Herbs and Spices: Oregano, Cumin, and Bay Leaves

2. Aloe:

A cactus-like plant. The thick leaves can be squeezed to extrude a thick sap that can be used to treat burns, insect bites, and wounds.

3. Aspen:

The inner bark or xylem is used in a tea to treat fever, coughs, and pain. It contains salicin, which also is found in willow trees and is the foundation ingredient for aspirin.

Related: The Healing Power Of Dance: How Dance Strengthens Our Mind, Body & Spirit

4. Bee pollen:

When mixed with food it can boost energy, aid digestion, and enhance the immune system. If you’re allergic to bee stings you will most likely be allergic to bee pollen.

5. Beeswax:

Used as a salve for burns and insect bites, including bee stings. Intended to only be used externally.

6. Blackberry:

The root, bark, and leaves when crushed and infused in a tea are used to treat diarrhea, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the metabolism. As a gargle, it treats sore throats, mouth ulcers, and inflammation of the gums.

7. Black Raspberry:

The roots of this plant are crushed and used as a tea or boiled and chewed to relieve coughs, diarrhea, and general intestinal distress.

8. Buckwheat:

The seeds are used in soups and as porridge to lower blood pressure, help with blood clotting, and relieve diarrhea.

Related: CBD Oil and Massages: Good or Bad?

28 thoughts on “31 Long-Forgotten Native American Herbal Remedies For Illnesses”

  1. I love the more natural approach to health and healing. As someone with auto-immune issues, I’m always looking natural remedies. This article is very informative.

  2. I’ve been interested in learning and using more natural remedies in my life and this article has been very helpful. Many methods i know were passed down from my paternal Cherokee grandmother and maternal grandmother. I will pass down everything I learn to my children so it can never be lost or forgotten.

  3. I am a Lenape (Delaware) Indian. I was borned and raised on Indian land in Oklahoma. We (Delawares) were adopted by the Cherokees. A lot of these remedies were used by my mother and I am familiar with them. They did work. My mother raised six children and we lived about twelve miles from a town. So we had to take care of ourselves. My mother knew what she was doing, what to pick and how to use it. We also doctored our animals when they got sick or hurt. Thought you would like to know that some of remedies are probably still being used in some of the remote areas in Indian Country.

  4. I don’t know whether it’s just me or if perhaps everybody else encountering issues with your blog.
    It looks like some of the written text on your content are running off the screen. Can somebody
    else please comment and let me know if this is happening to them too?

    This may be a issue with my web browser because I’ve had this happen previously.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Laura! Please go to the next page to read about other plants. Thank you for the comment! Hope you are safe and well.

  5. While it’s true that if you listed everything that was used for things such as coughs it would be a very long list but, in herbal medicine you are not treating symptoms but the cause so what works for some people will not work for others. Herbalists will sit and talk to a person for at least 2 hours in order to find out all they can in order to narrow down the cause and then start trying one herb after another until the right one is found.

    We have become so accustomed to Allopathic doctors giving us a pill and our symptoms go away. All they did was take the battery out of the smoke alarm. What was causing the alarm to go off is still there. Herbals do not work overnight either. They are food the body needs to heal itself, not some ‘quick fix.’

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