4. Wild Ginger

Other names: Big Stretch, Colic Root, Cat’s Foot, Heart-Leaf, Asarbacca, Nuyigala dinadanesgi utana

Wild Ginger has been used by a wide variety of Native American tribes for medicinal purposes (9). The Cherokee Nation drank a mild infusion of wild ginger in order to stimulate digestion.

Wild Ginger, which does not come from the same plant as the spice used in cooking, was known to help with ailments such as colic, intestinal bloating and gas, and stomach aches and cramps It was also used to rid the lungs of excess mucus.

5. Smilax Bona-Nox

Other names: Greenbriar, Zarzaparilla, Catbrier, Pull Out A Sticker, Tramp’s Trouble

Among Native American tribes, this plant was used as a blood purifier and mild diuretic. Cherokee healers may have also used a tea made from the roots to treat arthritis.

Additionally, the leaves and bark of the plant could be mixed with lard to create a salve that helped treat minor burns, cuts, scrapes, and sores (10).

6. Blackberries

Who knew blackberries were actually a potent health supplement? The Cherokee used them to sooth stomach problems. Today, research has shown that blackberries are rich in bioflavonoids, antioxidants and other healing compounds (11).

Cherokee healers ground up the roots of blackberry plant, sweetening them with honey. This concoction was used to soothe sore throats, coughs, bleeding gums, and mouth sores. The root also has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce swelling and improve joint mobility.

7. Curly Dock

Other names (12): Yellow Dock, Curled Dock, Narrow Dock, Sour Dock, Rumex

This herb is often used as an ingredient in salads. It has a sweet but also sour taste and is chock-full of healthy vitamins and minerals.

Among Native American tribes, it was used as a rich source of iron. It was also believed to have laxative properties. When ground up and mixed with beeswax and a bit of oil, it was used as an ointment for minor cuts, sores, rashes, and other skin irritations.

8. Mullein

Other names: Aaron’s Rod, Duffle, Lungwort, Beggar’s Blanket, Gordolobo, Hare’s Beard, Fluffweed

The Cherokee avowed that this traditional herb could help with lung and respiratory problems. They burned mullein roots and inhaled the smoke, which they believed opened up the airways and eased inflammation of the mucous membranes that line the respiratory tract. The flowers of mullein can also be used to prepare a sedative tea to treat joint pain as well as migraine headaches (13).

9. Cattail

Other names: bulrush, reedmace, punks, corn dog grass

Cattail is not a medicinal treatment, but a type of preventative medicine. According to the Cherokee tradition, it can also prove helpful in the recovery process. The entire plant may be eaten, save for the leaves and the heads of the seeds. A hearty plant, cattail is a reliable traditional food source because of its high starch content (14).

10. Sumac

Other names: qua lo ga

Sumac is a potent spice that has medicinal properties (15). The Cherokee nation used a decoction made from sumac bark as a remedy for a sore throat. It was also prescribed for diarrhea. The leaves of the sumac plant may be steeped to make a tea used to treat fever. In addition, fresh leaves can be mixed with berries to create paste that soothes poison ivy.

11. Rose Hip

Other names: wild rose, jisdu unigisdi, wild boar fruit, hip, hop fruit, dog rose, heps, gulab, Persian rose

Rose hip contains a significant amount of vitamin C (16). It can therefore be used to prevent and treat common illnesses such as the cold and flu.  Rose hips can also heal stomach spasms, stomach acid deficiency, prevent stomach irritation and ulcers and treat intestinal diseases.

The Cherokee used this herb in a tea form to stimulate the kidneys and bladder. A tea made of the petals was traditionally be used to soothe a sore throat while the roots were used to cure diarrhea.