When I was a young girl, my mother and I used to go to a wooded area and dig sassafras roots. She knew exactly where to find them. We dug them in the early spring or late fall because that's when the sap is strongest. After washing them thoroughly, we made a dark red tea with the roots and enjoyed it with a bit of honey or sugar. The tea has a pungent odor and distinctive flavor. Sassafras was long believed to be a blood purifier. Today, sassafras is identified by the FDA as having the carcinogen, safrole.
One of the most remarkable formulas in use today is essiac tea. The formula for this tea was discovered by a Canadian nurse named Rene M. Caisse. She received it in the mid 1920s from an elderly American Indian who told her of its properties. Studies show that it is effective in cancer treatment and particularly in prostate cancer. It is made from red clover, burdock root, rhubarb and sheep sorrell. Documented studies over the years on Essiac tea show that the results are promising for this treatment. It is said to strengthen the immune system, relieve or alleviate pain, shrink tumors, improve sleep and prolong life when used in the approved and specified mix. American Indians know and frequently use this tea as part of cancer treatment. It reduces the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation according to studies.
Caisse ran Bracebridge clinic in Ontario Canada from 1934 to 1942. She had remarkable success in treating patients with the formula.
The following is a partial list from American Indian medicines:
1. Spruce tea: for chronic cough. The new growths work better.
2. Mullein tea: for cough and congestion. Boil and strain tea. Add milk and honey.
3. White cedar needles: for coughs. make a tea of the needles, remove needles and add lemon and honey.
4. Blueberry tea: Boil water and make tea. (blueberries are heart healthy)
5. Wild peppermint tea: for colds and upset stomach.
6. Black Birch tea: for sickness. Made from dock root and sassafras.
More commonly known natural medicines are echinacea, golden rod, Valerian root, St. John's Wort and black cohosh. These ingredients may be found in supplements sold along side vitamins.
This article is not intended to be an endorsement or present a cure for any illness or disease.