Monday, April 15, 2013

Peyote as Medicine – The Power of Native Plants to Heal

Peyote as Medicine – The Power of Native Plants to HealPeyote as Medicine – The Power of Native Plants to Heal: Most people in the United States are unaware of what an important role plants play in the field of medicine. Plants are the original source material for nearly 40% of all pharmaceutical remedies in the United States. In other words, there are prescription and over-the-counter drugs on the market right now that either contain plant-derived materials, or synthesized materials from agents that were originally derived from plants.

You’ve probably taken plant derived medicine at some point in your lifetime. There are numerous examples of how plants have been used medicinally via western science and pharmaceutical companies. Pseudoephedrine, a nasal and sinus decongestant and stimulant found in many over-the-counter cold and flu medications, was originally derived from the ephedra plant species. The cancer drug Taxol is derived from a plant alkaloid found in the Yew Tree. Quinine, the anti-malarial drug, was originally discovered in the bark of a cinchona tree. It was first used by the Quechua native people of Bolivia and Peru before being taken back to Europe by the Jesuits.

Culturally and traditionally, indigenous people have an especially close relationship with plants. Even today, roughly 80% of the world’s population still employs herbs as primary medicines. Although, tragically, because of the federal government’s policy of termination and assimilation of native people in this country and the suppression of cultural and spiritual beliefs that followed, a lot of American Indian traditional plant knowledge has been lost. Natives are fighting to protect and preserve their respective native languages. In a similar manner, we must now fight to protect and preserve ancestral knowledge about the medicinal uses of native plants. Like the buffalo and every other wild thing that lives and grows, native plants rooted in Ina Maka (Mother Earth) are part of our identity as native people. Without the flowering stick, the sacred hoop of life is incomplete and cannot be healed.

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