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Native American Healing Traditions

Many agree that Native Americans are perceptive healers because of their history of faith in the healing powers of the mind, their guidance by spirit, and their abundant knowledge of the environment. Native Americans observed and studied plants, understood how they grew, what made them thrive, and what made them fail. And through thousands of years of trial and error, they gathered timeless knowledge that is still used today.

In 1536 French explorer Jacques Cartier and his crew fell ill to scurvy, a disease we now understand is a result of a vitamin C deficiency. Cartier found hope after Native American chief Domagaia and his tribe began treating the men with tea. The boiled limbs of a spruce tree provided ill crew members with the vitamin C their body was lacking. Because Native Americans depended on their environment for survival, their connection and understanding of natural cures was an intimate one. It is believed that over 200 plants and more than 500 herbs containing medicinal compounds were used commonly by Native Americans.

The Native Americans believed that there is no greater healer, no greater strength, no greater power than that of Mother Earth. From the sunshine lighting the sky to the trees and abundant plants and herbs, all that surrounded was seen as food, life, and medicine. Additional healing techniques such as nutrition, heat, massage, and visualization were also used to maintain good health and to treat illness. Sound and movement were part of healing ceremonies among almost every Native American tribe. Rhythmic drumming, singing, and dancing are said to alter consciousness which bring the body to a place of peace.

Common herbs used in America today include aloe, echinacea, dandelion, bearberry, fennel, garlic, ginseng, hawthorn, and licorice (just to name a few). Aloe (Aloe vera) is a cactus-like plant commonly used as a skin remedy and found in many homes today. Research shows aloe helps skin cells to regenerate and when taken internally can treat constipation and aid in soothing the digestive tract. The cooling medicinal salve of the aloe plant is commonly used to treat minor cuts and burns. Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia) is a perineal that closely resembles a black-eyed Susan. Gaining popularity today for helping relieve upper respiratory and cold symptoms, echinacea can also be used as a mouthwash with healing properties in treating various gum diseases. The information shared is for educational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose or treat disease. Always consult with your healthcare provider.

Native Amercians believed earth is a spiritual being. Mother earth must be honored and as we care for her, she will care for us.

“Knowledge was inherent in all things. The world was a library”

-Chief Luther Standing Bear

Stephanie McCutchin is a Licensed Massage Therapist and owner ofSakom Massage and Wellness. The word Sakom is inspired by the Menominee language and translates to extending peace to yourself and others. Creating a peaceful space for clients to relax, recharge, and recuperate is the main focus at Sakom. Stephanie’s practice is located in the historicWillow Tree Wellness center in the heart of Lodi, Wisconsin. The center is solely dedicated to professional healers who offer a variety of services. To learn more about massage and to book your appointment today call, 608-564-5330 or click here.

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