The First Nations Peoples
The First Nations Peoples consists of many different nations of people that tend to have a variety of traditions. This makes it impossible to discuss one unified medical approach. Generally a shaman ( medicine woman or man) uses rituals to scare away spirits that are causing afflictions for the patient. Their medicine is based on a system of energetics – the energy flow and the imbalances in the energy flow are examined. They used plants to help close wounds, ease sickness and even provide protection against harmful spirits.
Canada’s own northern boreal forest, which stretches from BC to Newfoundland, is one of the last and largest intact forests left in the world. It boasts thousands of plant species, many of which contain medicinal properties used by indigenous peoples for centuries. For example, more than 400 species of native plants have been used as traditional herbal medicines by First Nations peoples in Ontario alone.
More than 600 First Nations communities live across the Canadian boreal region where they have developed complex physical, social, and spiritual relationships that reflect their knowledge of and respect for the land that feeds, houses, and helps heal them.
Here are some common weeds and their medicinal uses. Remember, many native plants may be toxic, so speak with an expert and know what you’re doing before you ingest anything.
|wild bergamot||BC to Quebec||• leaves used to treat coughs, colds, fevers, pneumonia, insomnia, sore eyes, and kidney and respiratory problems|
|lamb’s quarters||throughout Canada||• young plants, high in vitamin C, used to treat scurvy • also used to treat stomach aches, rheumatism, and headaches|
|stinging nettle||throughout Canada||• used to aid blood coagulation and formation of hemoglobin • also used to treat gout, anemia, poor circulation, and kidney stones|
|yarrow||throughout Canada||• used to stop bleeding • also used as a sedative, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and topical for toothache|
|shepherd’s purse||throughout Canada||• used to treat headaches, stomach cramps, and internal bleeding • also used as an insecticide|
— Source: Edible & Medicinal Plants of Canada (Lone Pine Publishing, 2009)
A scientific approach emerged in 2980 B.C. during the reign of Pharaoh Zosar of the Third Dynasty. The ancient African healers had an elaborate supply of herbs, animal parts, minerals and clays.
The flora in Africa is very diverse which composes a large materia medica. Over 2,000 distinct tribes reside in Africa but maintain a fairly standard form of medical practice despite their cultural variety.
African Healing Systems revolve around secrecy, knowledge is an index of Power and Influence.
The energy and the spirit of the plant is the healing formula. A medicine person is not measured by the number of herbs they know but rather on their ability to understand the natural laws and their ability to use them.