There is much to learn from Native American approaches to health and well-being. Underpinning much of the thinking is the incorporation of both mind and body techniques in a holistic approach to healing. Rather than simply addressing the specific area that is affected, or the specific, localized symptom of a disease, Native American approaches to healing also focus on the spiritual balance of the sufferer. Furthermore, to Native Americans, being healthy is a continual process and not something to be addressed only when there is a problem or illness.
The body is an expression of the spirit
A particular feature of almost all Native American remedies is its close association with tribal or religious beliefs. For example “healing meditations,” where sufferers re-affirm their belief and connection with a supreme creator, are an integral part of the health ritual. Having a strong spiritual belief is thought to be the foundation of physical and mental strength. If the spirit is weak, the body is weak. Or in other worlds, the body is an expression of the spirit.
A sufferer may undergo one of the following healing rituals and health practices, depending on the particular ailment being addressed: purifying sweat baths, adorning themselves with medicine bundles, wearing healing charms, smoking sacred tabaco and participating in healing ceremonies.
Special herbs are used to correct imbalances of body and spirit
For centuries special herbs have been administered to the unwell to help correct spiritual imbalances, regain harmony and heal the body. A bewildering number of herbs may be used, some of which are listed below:
- Sage – to protect against bad spirits and help manage digestive issues, burns and fever
- Cedar – to help combat colds
- Goldenseal – used as an general antifungal including for fungal infections of the skin and nail fungus (see more at http://fungusfacts.com)
- Bloodroot – for digestive issues and to reduce the occurrence of gingivitis
- Bearberry – as a general antiseptic and to control urinary tract infections (see more at http://medplant.nmsu.edu/ursi.shtm)
- Yerba santa – for pulmonary problems
- Skunk cabbage – for phlegm removal and to help combat asthma
- Yellow thistle – to soothe burns and skin irritations
- Dandelion root – for digestive disorders and heartburn
Generally classified as “alternative remedies”, Native American healing has close parallels with eastern approaches to medicine and both are gaining more followers. But before I close this article, please bear in mind that this is provided simply for basic informational purposes and you should always follow the advice of a qualified health professional for the diagnosis and treatment of any health condition that you are facing.