Ancient Remedies: 10 Native Herbs or Foods to Ease Common Ailments Read more at

Indian Country Today Media

Ancient Remedies: 10 Native Herbs or Foods to Ease Common Ailments


This is Part I of a series on natural, Indigenous remedies.

1. Amaranthus

RELATED: Awesome Aztec Superfood Is Also Beautiful in Your Garden

Amaranthus was once a staple of the Aztec diet. The wild pigweed can grow six feet in height, its foliage varying from green to shades of purple, red and gold, and occasionally bearing flowers.

The Aztecs believed the plant to hold supernatural health- and strength-giving properties, incorporating the seeds into a ritual, in which mixtures of amaranth seed, honey and blood were made into images of gods and then eaten, reported But Aztecs later found the Christian ritual of communion disturbing, and hence banned the cultivation of amaranth, as it was tied to their similar tradition.

Inca and Mayan civilizations also enjoyed the plant as a vegetable and grain, according to The Incas considered the Amaranthus seed sacred. Each year, the first seed was planted by the king using a golden spade.

Edible raw or cooked, today it is regularly found in healthy cereals—the seeds ground into a meal. Amaranth produces prolific small seeds, a little larger than poppy seeds in various colors: black, red or ivory. The seeds cook rapidly and are used as a food, prepared like a grain, especially for hot cereal or flour. They can also be popped like popcorn or toasted.

The vegetable can be sautéed, much like spinach or rhubarb with its similar reddish stem and deeply veined leaves. Because the leaves contain oxalic acid and may contain nitrates, if grown in nitrogen-rich soil, the water should be thrown out after boiling.


  • Page 1 of 7
  • 1
  • 2
  • Coconut


Maple Sap

  • maplesyrup
  • 5Oregon-Grape Oregon Grape

    The evergreen shrub the Oregon grape, plentiful along the west coast from Canada to California, has healing powers to alleviate pink eye and other inflammatory skin diseases, ease the digestive tract, and promote recovery from chemotherapy and radiation therapy, according to Discovery Fit & Health.

    Oregon’s state flower blooms yellow buds and grows purple berries. It’s also a natural healer. “I thought people would not know that about our state flower,” said Gina Davis, a forester for seven years who has worked for the Coquille Indian Tribe in North Bend, Oregon for the past two years. She has taken to learning about local, wild plants that can double as pain relief and ointments, reported The World.

    Davis credits her upbringing with peaking her interest in the healing properties of native plants, and thus inciting her to move away from the idea of Western medicine. “I grew up in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere,” Davis told The World. “And my grandfather was full-blown Cherokee.”

    Oregon grape (Flickr/StarMist1)
    Oregon grape (Flickr/StarMist1)

    Though bitter due to the presence of alkaloids, the plant is edible. Ingested, the herb has a beneficial effect on the digestive tract, “stimulating the flow of bile, which loosens the stools and helps prevent and sometimes relieves constipation, diverticulosis, gallbladder disease, and hemorrhoids,” reported Discovery Fit & Health. “They may also help people with constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).”

    When made into a tincture, an alcohol extract of the root, it’s an effective treatment for pink eye. To create a tincture, according to Discovery Fit & Health: “Mix 1/2 to 1 teaspoon in 2 to 4 ounces of water and sip before each meal. The amount of alcohol in tinctures at this dose is very low and presents no significant problem.”

    To consume as a beneficial digestive, drink it in a tea. “Simmer 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried, coarsely chopped root in 1 cup of water for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain out the leftover root (or eat it, if you prefer), and sip the remaining liquid just before eating each substantial meal.”

    Storage is important. Keep “dried Oregon grape root away from light and heat. Do not keep longer than one year. Tincture will keep indefinitely if stored away from light and heat,” stated Discovery Fit & Health.

  • 6
  • Pepper Corns

Peppercorn-e1296145930179Skunk Cabbage



1 Comment

  1. Quote:

    Submitted on 2014/06/30 at 10:39 pm

    Excellent post. I was checking contiinuously this weblog and I am inspired!
    Extremely useful information specially the ultimate phse 🙂 I take care of such information much.
    I was seeking this certain info for a long time. Thank you and good

    A Reader

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s