Traditional Cherokee Medicinal Plants
The Cherokee, a Native American Tribe located in the Southeastern United States, have a strong history of understanding, gathering, and preserving medicinal herbs. Part of their understanding of these plants includes the plants’ inherent power to offer both preventative and healing properties.
One of the tenets of traditional Cherokee medicine gathering is to harvest responsibly. Over the years, many native medicinal plants have become scarce. Some have even disappeared completely. When harvesting herbs or other plants, it is important to tread lightly and only take what you need. The Cherokee teach that one should only pick or dig up every third plant to ensure enough specimens remain to propagate effectively.
Other ways in which traditionalists harvest respectfully is by asking the plant’s permission before picking or digging. Many leave a small gift in gratitude for the plant’s offering. Another way to protect the natural medicinal abundance is by keeping the location of wild crops a secret. Tell only those who you know well and can trust to harvest carefully. This ensures that a crowd of people do not wipe out an entire wild crop before it has time to recover and propagate.
If you seek additional information on traditional gathering and use of medicinal plants, you should look to Cherokee elders. Much of the knowledge and tradition has been passed down and many Cherokee elders will still remember family remedies and how to identify and use certain herbs.
Below is a list of some of the most powerful healing plants traditionally used by the Cherokee. (PAGE 2)