Varro E. Tyler
American Indians, like many native peoples, frequently combined magic, religion, and medicine in their healing rites. Although they frequently used botanicals for curative purposes, their understanding of the benefits resulting from consuming them was limited to a belief that, in some way, these substances acted against the demons within the body that were responsible for the illness. Nevertheless, an understanding of how the medicine worked was much less important than the fact that it did work. Empirically, hundreds, if not thousands, of native plants were investigated and many useful ones discovered. More than 200 medicinal plants indigenous to the Americas were deemed of sufficient value to receive official status in some edition of the United States Pharmacopoeia; about 300 more have seen limited usage in Western medicine1. The American Indians obviously developed a formidable materia medica, the specifics of which naturally varied somewhat from tribe to tribe. A listing of 72 of the native remedies thought to be of special value is found in Sonnedecker.2
Tyler, Varro E. (1996). NORTH AMERICAN INDIAN DRUGS - FACT AND FICTION. Acta Hortic. 426, 139-146
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.1996.426.15

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