Healing the Worlds Sick
Over 25% of all medicines today come from plants and other natural sources. Over 200 modern drugs have their origins in Native American medicinal practice. Following is a list of a FEW of the medicines used by American Indians and shared with the world:
QUININE: used to treat malaria, perhaps the most endemic killer of human life. Malaria was not native to the Americas, but was brought over with early European settlers. Native healers quickly discovered this wonder drug's curative powers over malaria and untold millions of lives have been saved due to its effectiveness.
IPECAC: used to purge the body of ingested poisons and to combat amoebic dysentery.
DIGITALIS: extracted from the foxglove plant to treat heart ailments. Today this drug is one of the most important in modern medicine for regulation of heart rhythm.
RHAMNUS PURSHIANA: the world's most commonly used laxative.
CURARE: A muscle relaxant used in surgery.
SPIGELIA MARILANDICA: used to combat intestinal worms.
ASPIRIN: used to combat pain and fever. Native Americans derived this drug from the bark of willow and poplar trees. Today we artificially manufacture aspirin from coal tar.
WITCH HAZEL: used to soothe irritated skin and muscles
ARNICA: a drug commonly used to reduce swelling.
PETROLEUM JELLY: an ointment used to soothe skin.
Native People utilized hundreds, if not thousands, of other medicines and drugs, many of which are the basis of many of today's modern medicines and treatments. Much of this Native medicinal knowledge and practice has been lost due to the attempted destruction of their culture.
Today over 500 medicines and herbal remedies are used in modern medical treatment that were first used by the First Peoples of this land.
The Native People of this hemisphere led a life that was in many ways much more healthy than that of the European Peoples. Many European People lived in crowded, and unsanitary conditions, often sharing their homes with draft animals..
The early European people considered frequent bathing to be sinful and abhorrent. Queen Isabella, of Spain, once boasted that she had bathed only twice in her life, the first time when she was born and the second time the day of her marriage. And Queen Isabella upon hearing Columbus' reports on the frequency of bathing among the Native People issued an edict that stated in part, "They are not to bathe as frequently as hitherto."
Feenie Ziner, the author that wrote Squanto's biography, recorded that Squanto, "...tried without success to teach them [the Pilgrims] to bathe."
The Native people of Mexico were known to hold flowers to their noses when talking with the Spanish Conquistadors in an attempt to mask the malodorous aroma that wafted out from under the armour of the Spanish.
Unfortunately as a result of their clean living standards and lack of exposure to the pathogens of medieval Europe the Native People of this land did not develop the resistance to common European diseases such as mumps, measles and chicken pox, not to mention the deadlier vectors of infection like the Black Death or small pox.
So complete was this Native lack of resistance to these diseases that entire bands would be decimated by simple "childhood illness's." In-spite of their vast knowledge of natural cures and treatments, the onslaught of European disease, killed as much as 90% to 95% of the Native People of America. The "Great Plague," which nearly brought European society to its knees, only had mortality rates of approximately 25%. The European diseases that afflicted Native Americans were the deadliest plagues ever suffered in all of known human history.
Today we recognize the wisdom of Native habits of personal cleanliness. The importance of good hygiene is the foundation of today's modern medicine. And the power of prayer and spiritual faith is being acknowledged by modern science.