Imagine going to your medicine cabinet and finding a small cup of pine needles, a glass containing the juice of a milkweed plant, a cup with crushed onion wrapped in saran wrap, and a saucer with a chunk of gum from a spruce tree. Then imagine you need to go to the emergency room and it is a small lodge with smoke billowing upwards to a hole in the roof, and there is a wild looking wild acting guy dancing and chanting and calling on the spirits to cure you.
Native American herbal remedies is the story of how a young Maliseet Indian girl named Mary, living on a small reservation in Houlton, Maine learned how her ancestors, before the white man came, used natural cures found in trees, herbs, and wild plants such as onion to ease the pain or symptoms of their most common ailments. These ailments included wounds, rheumatism, bowel and urinary disorders, colds and lung infections, and childbirth complications.
Mary learned these things from her Grandma Paul during walks on a trail bordering a stream close to their reservation. Her grandmother taught Mary how to find, identify, and choose, many of the herbs used as natural cures during the aboriginal days of the Maliseet.
Part of the Maliseet knowledge was often discovered through trial and error. Often, ailing animals were followed and observed to see what plants they would eat to heal and get well. The bear, revered for its intelligence, was considered a reliable source of herbal remedies.
For more than three centuries, researchers of every culture have closely examined these plants, some of which have demonstrated the building blocks of modern antibiotics.