15 Native American Herbs & Recipes

by Tommy Grant

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor and nothing in this article should be taken as medical advice. Please talk to your doctor before using any of the herbs and/or remedies mentioned in this article.

When it comes to emergency preparedness, one of the most overlooked topics is the use of natural herbs and plants for medical use. In the modern world, most people have no clue which plants are poisonous and which plants can be used as a medicine, but it wasn’t always that way.

Using herbs and plants for medical use is nothing new. Native Americans used them for thousands of years under the philosophy that man is a part of nature.

Furthermore, archaeological studies have shown that man has been using herbs and plants for medical purposes since at least 3000 BC, beginning with the ancient Egyptians and Chinese. Back then, they used herbs and plants to treat everything from oral problems to stomach aches to headaches to skin rashes and more.

It wasn’t until the 1700s to 1800s that scientists and medical professionals in the Western world began to really analyze these plants. Today, science has evolved to the point where it is incredibly rare for a prescription drug to have natural components in it, even though most of today’s prescriptions originated from naturally-occurring elements.

Of course, you probably won’t have any prescription meds in a survival scenario. In this case, your next best option will be the natural herbs and plants that the Native Americans used hundreds of years ago.

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1. Blackberries

Yes, the blackberries that you buy at the store contain medicinal properties. Most notably, the Cherokee tribe would use them to help calm stomach pain.

Today, scientific research has revealed that blackberries are rich in antioxidants, which may explain why they can reduce stomach pain.

While you can certainly consume blackberries orally, Native Americans would grind up the roots and mix them with honey. This resulting recipe would calm stomach problems, reduce coughs, soothe mouth stores, and relieve sore throats.

2. Buckbrush

You need at least one of your kidneys to be functioning properly in order to live, and one of the best natural elements to ensure your kidneys are working well is buckbrush.

Furthermore, buckbrush can also be used to treat tumors and cysts, inflammation, and sore throats.

The best way to consume it is to make a tea out of it. Simply boil some water and set the roots in it for five to ten minutes. You can then proceed to drink the resulting buckbrush tea to get the full benefits.

3. Cattail

Cattail is more of a preventative treatment than it is an actual medicine. Every part of the plant can be eaten, except for the seeds and the leaves.

Cattail is best used as an antiseptic for open wounds such as cuts, abrasions, and scrapes. Simply split open the root of the cattail and bring it into direct contact with the open wound, then secure it with a rope or paracord.

Furthermore, the ash of cattail can be used for this same medicinal purpose. Simply bring it into direct contact with the open wound.

4. Dandelion

We should all be familiar with what dandelions are, and the Native Americans were the first to figure out how to use them medically.

For example, did you know that having a dandelion salad (where you eat the leaves) can help alleviate a sore throat?

Did you also know that dandelion is a diuretic and can, therefore, help you to pass urine? All you’ll need to do is have some dandelion tea.

5. Elderflower

Elderflower can be consumed in a number of ways: jelly, syrup, and tea are some of the most popular ones.

But be careful because the only edible part is the flower part itself. The leaves, twigs, roots, and stems may not be consumed safely because they are toxic.

The extract of the elderflower is what’s used for medicinal purposes. Specifically, the extract can be used as a treatment for:

  • Sweating
  • Bleeding
  • Bronchitis
  • Constipation
  • Colds
  • Influenza
  • The Common Cold

6. Flaxseed

Flaxseed has been used to help treat the kidneys as well. Furthermore, it can also be used to treat sore throats and heart-related problems.

Flaxseed can also be consumed in any way that you see fit, so long as you do not consume it when it’s raw or unripe. The best way to consume it is in powdered form, or at least when it is dried.

7. Lavender

If you’ve been suffering from any sleep-related problems, lavender can be the treatment you’re looking for.  Getting plenty of sleep during a survival situation will be important for keeping your energy levels up. The Native Americans would use the scent from lavender to make it easier to sleep as well as calm the pain from headaches.

Making lavender oil is incredibly easy. Simply steep the sprigs in olive oil (or water if you’re in a survival situation), and you’ll be set.

8. Mint

Mint is very well known, even by those unfamiliar with medicinal herbs.

Mint is healthy because it is very rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin C, in addition to magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, and potassium. The Cherokee tribe would make mint tea in order to lower blood pressure and help treat pain in the digestive system.

To treat itchy spots and skin rashes, crush mint leaves and mix them with a little bit of water to create an ointment, then apply the mixture directly to the affected area.

9. Mullein

Mullein is a plant that was widely used by Native Americans, especially for respiratory problems. The leaves and flowers of mullein can be dried and then used to make a tea that soothes coughs and bronchial congestion.

To use mullein, steep the dried leaves or flowers in hot water for about 10 minutes. This tea acts as an expectorant, helping to clear mucus from the lungs. Additionally, the soft leaves were also applied externally to wounds to promote healing.

Related: Mullein – The World’s Most Useful Weed

10. Red Clover

Red clover was commonly used by Native American tribes as a tonic to improve overall health and vitality. It was also used for its expectorant properties to treat coughs and respiratory conditions.

To make red clover tea, add dried flowers to boiling water and steep for about 15 minutes. This tea is not only helpful for respiratory issues but also for skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Additionally, red clover was used as a blood purifier and to treat inflammation.

11. Rosemary

Rosemary was considered to be a sacred plant by many Native American tribes, and for good reason: it is simply one of the most effective natural plants for alleviating pain in joints and muscles.

Furthermore, rosemary can also help to improve the immune system, indigestion, the nervous system, and the circulatory system. All in all, it is one of the best herbs you can get your hands on. And all you have to do is add it to your food.

12. Sumac

Sumac is excellent at treating colds, fevers, and sore throats. To get these benefits, you’ll need to make sumac tea. Just pick several berry clusters and crush them slightly, soak them in a pitcher of cold water overnight, strain the mixture to remove the berries, and enjoy!

It’s that simple. The pain won’t go entirely away, but you will feel nearly instant relief and that’s better than nothing.

13. White Willow Bark

Known as the ‘natural aspirin’, white willow bark contains salicin, which is similar to the active ingredient in aspirin. Native Americans chewed on the bark or brewed a tea to relieve pain, reduce fever, and ease inflammation.

For a simple white willow bark tea, simmer about one teaspoon of the bark in a cup of water for 15 to 20 minutes, then strain and drink. This remedy was particularly used for headaches, menstrual cramps, and arthritis.

14. Wild Ginger

Wild ginger was a go-to remedy for several Native American tribes, particularly for digestive issues. The root of wild ginger can be brewed into a tea that helps with stomach pain, gas, and improves digestion.

To prepare it, simply chop the root into small pieces and steep in boiling water for about 10 minutes. This tea was also used for its warming properties and to help break a fever by promoting sweating.

15. Yarrow

Yarrow is widespread throughout the world and was first utilized to great effect by the Ancient Greeks, who used it to stop excessive bleeding by applying the leaves directly. They would also take the juice from yarrow and mix it with water. This mixture would then be consumed directly to help treat pain in the stomach or intestines.

The Cherokee tribe was also well aware of the strong medicinal properties of yarrows, and like the Ancient Greeks, they primarily prepared it as a tea. Just add a teaspoon of dried yarrow to a cup of water, boil it for 10 minutes, strain the leaves, and drink.

Furthermore, the Cherokee tribe would also apply yarrow directly to the skin to help treat dry skin, acne, and open wounds.


If you want to use these herbs in a survival scenario, learn to identify them now so you can find them when you need them. If the Native Americans used them, so can you… and who knows, your life might be saved as a result.

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