A long celebrated tradition in Native American culture is the role of the Medicine Man and the use of Native American remedies. The Medicine Man was a revered wise man that studied plants, herbs, and the fruit of the land in order to cultivate medicines and ointments to aid the suffering and the sick. Native American remedies were thought to ward off the evil spirits that caused the illness and were often given with charms, stones, and rites.
Native American remedies were concocted for many purposes and are still used by traditionalists on reservations and in demonstrations for tourists and even sold in apothecaries. Many common ailments were treated with herbal extracted that were boiled down to make teas and ointments or they were smoked in a pipe.
One example of Native American remedies is for the ease of pain during childbirth. Blue cohosh root was infused in water and drunk as a tea to speed the delivery process. Partridgeberry was used in a tea as well to induce labor in the weeks before an expected date of birth. The most frequently used Native American remedies were for common colds, aches and pains. Boneset tea was a common remedy for colds while wild cherry bark was used for coughs, sore throat, and diarrhea. Using wild carrot blossoms and Devil's Club could offset the ill effects of Diabetes. Fevers were soothed with teas made from dogwood, feverwort, and willow bark. A still famously enjoyed Pennyroyal tea was thought to cure headaches and influenza was cured with Native Hemlock. Some serious surgeries that required sedatives would usually be prepared with Wild Lettuce, Hops, and Wild Black Cherry. Heart and circulatory problems were addressed with Native American remedies using Green Hellebore, American Hemp and Dogbane. Some of these Native American remedies were the basis for the modern medicines that are commonly used today such as penicillin.