I am reading Healing Secrets of the Native Americans by Porter Shimer. All quotes in today’s blog are from his book.

Today we look to pharmaceutical companies for our medicine. Native Americans looked to nature, especially the plant world, for remedies and cures. Nature was (and is) their pharmacy. Do you know that a large percentage of modern pharmaceutical products derive their healing abilities from plants common to our environment? One example is aspirin. The ingredients in aspirin are chemically similar to pain relieving compounds found in the bark of the willow tree. For centuries, “Tribes in California used a willow bark  to make tea that relieved back pain (page 116).”

It’s not that early settlers were unaware of Native American use of plants for medicinal purposes. In 1650, Dutch explorer Adrian van der Donck wrote, “The Indians know how to cure very dangerous and perilous wounds and sores by roots, leaves and other little things (page 10).” And in 1714 John Lawson wrote in his History of North Carolina: ” Among all the discoveries of America by the French and Spaniards, I wonder why none of them was so kind to the world as to have kept a catalog of the illnesses they found the natives able to cure (page 10).”

So why didn’t the early (or later) settlers keep track of this information, or at least adopt Native American remedies? Unfortunately it was because most of them incorrectly and rashly viewed Native Americans  as ‘ignorant savages’. What a tragic mistake! They would have benefitted, even on a personal level, from learning this Native American wisdom. It was left to our later scientists to re-discover what Native Americans had known for thousands of years. It makes me wonder, what other ‘Ancient Wisdom’ have we not yet re-discovered?

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