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Traditional Herbs Of North America

North America has an amazing abundance of different climates and habitats that support many indigenous medicinal plants. Conservationists and herbalists in the US and Canada are fighting to preserve our native plants, habitats are being lost not only to urbanization and pollution, but to our own traditions of exploiting our natural resources as if they were a bottomless well, never to be depleted. Many important North American medicinal herbs are woodland species, the uses and knowledge of which was passed along to the colonists of the New World from the indigenous native tribes. These settlers has also brought many of their favorite healing plants and herbs with them, and many European species have become naturalized here,making it hard to tell the natives from the immigrants in the best American tradition.


  • Avocado Avocado, Persea americana :
    Subtropical tree : Avocados are a favorite food because of the high fat content that gives them such a creamy, luscious flavor. This puts some dieters off, however, most of the fat is monounsaturated fat,...
  • Balsam Fir Balsam Fir, Abies balsamea (L.)Mill. : Christmas tree, North American fir
    Evergreen tree : As a popular Christmas tree the balsam fir is noted for its aromatic needles and pleasing shape. It is even more notable for its benefits and uses in home herbal medicine....
  • Barberry Barberry, Berberis vulgaris L. : Huang Lian, Chinese Goldthread, Pepperidge-bush, Daru Haridra
    Shrub : Both Chinese goldthread (native to the mountains of Szechwan province in China) and the barberry known in Europe and North America are rich natural sources of berberine....
  • Bayberry Bayberry, Myrica cerifera : Candleberry, wax myrtle
    Shrub : Early American colonists used the wax covering the plants berries to make candles. Some research shows that bayberry contains astringent and antibacterial compounds. ...
  • Bee Balm, Wild Bergamot Bee Balm, Wild Bergamot, Monarda didyma : Scarlet Monarda, Oswego Tea, Bergamot, Horsebalm
    perennial herb : This species of mint has an aroma similar to the citrus Orange Bergamot, but the two are not related. A safe herb to use in both animals and humans. Like most mints, bee balm has a special affinity towards the digestive tract. Bee balm has excellent antib...
  • Beth Root Beth Root, Trillium erectum : Wake-robin
    : Beth root has been used in folklore traditions as a tonic for women and as a cough medicine. It is considered endangered and not currently used....
  • Black Cohosh root Black Cohosh root, Cimicifuga racemosa : Black snake root, Squaw Root, Bugbane
    Perennial Herb : Black cohosh contains numerous chemical constituents; among them isoflavones which mimic hormonal activity. Black cohosh cools hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause...
  • Black Walnut Black Walnut, Juglans nigra :
    deciduous tree : The nuts make a great snack however it is the bark, leaves and nut husks that are the source of the phytomedicine in black walnut. Black walnut hull extract is unquestionably one of the best and safest worming agents offered by the plant world. But it ca...
  • Bloodroot Bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis L : red puccoon blood root, pauson
    Herbaceous Perennial : Bloodroot's name is derived from the color of the reddish roots which contain the phytochemical sanguinarine- The red juice from the root is used externally in pastes and salves to remove warts, skin tags, and some skin cancers....
  • Blue Cohosh Root Blue Cohosh Root, Caulophyllum thalictroides : squaw root
    Perennial herb : Blue cohosh is generally used in combination with other herbs, often black cohosh, to treat menstrual disorders. The herb is one of the traditional herbs often used to induce labor....
  • Boneset Boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum : Common Thorough wort, Agueweed, Indian Sage
    : This Native American remedy for colds and fever was adopted by early settlers to America. Only the advent of aspirin displaced boneset as the popular choice for colds and fever....
  • Bugleweed Bugleweed, Lycopus spp. : Water Horehound, Gypsywort
    Perennial herb : Bugleweed is useful in many heart and vascular system disorders ,hyperthyroid conditions and breast pain. ...
  • Butternut Butternut, Juglans cinerea : White walnut, Lemon walnut
    Tree : Butternut is used as a mild laxative and to expel human parasites....
  • Calamus root Calamus root, Acorus calamus : Sweet Sledge. Sweet Myrtle, Sweet Flag
    perennial wetland monocot : Sweet flag, or calamus has been in use worldwide in Asian European and Native American herbal traditions since the times of ancient Greece...
  • California Poppy California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica : Gold Poppy
    Tender Perennial : The above ground parts and roots of this wildflower show promise in the treatment of insomnia without the side effects and dependency risks of sleep aids....
  • Cascara Sagrada Cascara Sagrada, Rhamnus purshiana DC : Buckthorn
    tree : Dried, aged cascara sagrada bark is often prescribed for chronic constipation. The herb must be allowed to age at least a year before use to break down its anthrone chemicals....
  • Catnip Catnip, Nepeta cataria : Catmint, Nep,Catnep
    Perennial herb : A harmless high for felines, and beneficial for humans, Catnip leaves contain considerable quantities of vitamins C and E, both excellent antioxidants...
  • Cedarwood, Atlas Cedarwood, Atlas, Cedrus atlantica : Atlas cedar
    Evergreen Tree : Cedarwood is known for use in problem skin, as an insect repellent and as an inhalant in respiratory complaints....
  • Celandine Celandine, Chelidonium majus : Greater or common celandine
    Biennial Herb : Celandine was used more extensively in the past than it is now, due to concerns about toxicity. Celandine is most often used by modern herbalists for treating gallbladder problems....
  • Chaga Mushroom Chaga Mushroom, Inonotus obliquus : Cinder conk, Birch mushroom
    Mushroom : Chaga and the similar reishi mushroom both have a reputation as tonics for longevity and health. These mushrooms show great promise for their anti-viral activities...
  • Chaparral Chaparral, Larrea tridentata : hediondilla, Shegoi
    Desert Shrub : Chaparral has potent and long-lasting anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects in the treatment of arthritis. Chaparral herb should only be externally in baths,creams and lotions...
  • Chicory root Chicory root, Cichorium intybus : Succory, Blue Sailors
    perennial herb : Know best as a caffeine-free substitute for coffee, chicory also has been used in traditional medicine as a bitter digestive tonic and a specific treatment for gallstones....
  • Cleavers Cleavers, Galium aparine : Clivers, Goose Grass, Catchweed, Sweet Woodruff
    Annual Herb : Herbalists have long regarded cleavers as a valuable lymphatic tonic and diuretic. In essence the lymph system is the body's mechanism to wash tissues of toxins...
  • Costmary Costmary, Tanacetum balsamita L. : Balsam Herb. Costmarie, Alecost
    Perennial herb : Costmary has a pleasant balsam-like fragrance and was once a poplar herb for scenting bath water and rinses for the hair....
  • Cramp Bark Cramp Bark, Viburnum opulus : Stagbush, sweet viburnum, guelder-rose, water elder, arrowwood
    deciduous shrub : Black haw and cramp bark act in similar ways and both have a long history of use by Native and pioneer women to prevent threaten miscarriage, relieve uterine cramps, and painful periods...
  • Cranberry Cranberry, Vaccinium macrocarpon : cranberry, American cranberry, bog cranberry
    berry : Cranberry may help reduce both urinary tract infections and the amount of dental plaque-causing bacteria in the mouth....
  • Dandelion Root Dandelion Root, Taraxacum officinale : Priest's crown, Swine's Snout
    Perennial Herb : Dandelion root is high in many micro-nutrients including potassium. Dandelion supports the liver and improves digestion and helps to flush toxins from the body. ...
  • Deer's Tongue Deer's Tongue, Liatris odoratissima : Vanilla Leaf. Wild Vanilla
    Herbaceous perennial : Native American plant used in smoking blends to flavor tobacco...
  • Echinacea Echinacea, Echinacea angustifolia : Purple coneflower
    Herb : There are dozens of dozens of biochemical compounds that act in therapeutic synergy in this complex plant that support disease resistance in several ways...
  • Elderberry Elderberry, Sambucus nigra : Elderberry
    tree : Elderberries are used in syrup for diarrhea, colds and rheumatism. Leaves are used in an ointment that is a folk remedy for bruises, sprains, chilblains and hard-to-cure skin irritations...
  • Elm, Slippery Elm, Slippery, Ulmus fulva : Red Elm, Moose Elm, Indian Elm
    Deciduous Tree : In herbal medicine a slippery elm bark powder is considered one of the best possible poultices for wounds, boils, ulcers, burns and reducing pain and inflammation....
  • Evening Primrose Oil Evening Primrose Oil, Oenothera biennis : Night Willow-herb
    Biennial herbaceous : Both the leaves and the seeds of the evening primrose contain fragrant oil that plays an important part natural health. Evening primrose is a naturally high source of Gamma-linoleic acid...
  • Eyebright Eyebright, Euphrasia, various species :
    Annual herbaceous flowering plant : Eyebright is often used as an eyewash or in a compress to treat sore, itchy eyes. Eyebright infusions can be taken as a tea, or used as an eyewash or compress...
  • False Unicorn Root False Unicorn Root, Chamaelirium luteum :
    Perennial herb : A treasured woman's botanical, false unicorn is widely used to treat a variety of problems unique to the female reproductive system...
  • Feverfew Feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium :
    Perennial herb : Feverfew has been used in the treatment of headaches since the first century. It has also been used for inflammation, arthritis, menstrual discomforts, fever, and other aches and pains....
  • Fringe tree Fringe tree, Chionanthus virginicus : Old Man's beard, Snowdrop tree
    Tree : The roots of the fringe tree are dried and used to treat liver and gallbladder disease in traditional American folk medicine, often in combination with barberry and other herbs containing berberine....
  • Ginseng root Ginseng root, Panax ginseng : Ren-shen, X-yang-shen, Asian ginseng, Korean ginseng
    Herbaceous perennial : Ginseng is one the best known and widely prescribed herbs in Chinese medicine as a general adaptogenic and restorative tonic. ...
  • Goldenrod Goldenrod, Solidago virgaurea : Woundwort, Aaron's rod, golden rod
    Perennial flowering plant : This common wildflower is a traditional kidney tonic. Goldenrod's primary aspects are as an anti-inflammatory urinary tract antiseptic, and a treatment for upper respiratory catarrh....
  • Goldenseal Goldenseal, Hydrastis canadensis : Yellow Root
    Perennial herb : Goldenseal is a folk medicine staple widely used in many herbal salves and ointments as a contact disinfectant. The root contains berberine and hydrastine...
  • Grindelia Grindelia, Grindelia spp : Gumplant, tarweed, rosinweed
    scrub bush : Gridelia which grows wild in the Western states is better known as a external skin treatment for rashes, burns and insect bites. Gridelia was traditionally used for coughs and asthmatic conditions....
  • Hawthorn Berry Hawthorn Berry, Crataegus monogyna : Mayblossom, whitethorn, Red Haw; Mayflower
    Tree : Hawthorn berries have been used as a heart tonics for thousands of years, and remain one of our most valued herbal heart tonics. ...
  • Hepatica Liver-Leaf Hepatica Liver-Leaf, Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa : Anemone hepatica
    Perennial Wildflower : The liver-leaf has held a place amoung medicinal plants from ancient times until falling into disuse in the last part of the 1800's...
  • Jewel Weed Jewel Weed, Impatiens capensis : Jewelweed, Wild Balsam. Balsam-weed. Impatiens, Spotted Touch-me-not, Lady's Eardrops, Lady's Slipper
    herb : The juice of the plant is a traditional remedy for all sorts of skin ailments...
  • Jojoba Oil Jojoba Oil, Simmondsia chinensis :
    Perennial Desert Shrub : Jojoba oil is absorbed into the skin so well there is no greasy or tacky feel to it. Known for its ability to smooth fine lines and wrinkles, jojoba rejuvenates and rehydrates dry skin...
  • Linden Linden, Tilia spp : Lime tree, Basswood
    Deciduous tree : Herbalists recommend linden as a mild tonic for nervousness, insomnia as well as colds and fever. You will find linden often combined with yarrow flowers and sage in cold remedies....
  • Lobelia Lobelia, Lobelia inflata : Indian-Tobacco. Pukeweed. Asthma Weed.
    Annual Herb : The name Indian Tobacco might have arisen either from the peculiar tobacco-like sensation imparted to the tongue and stomach on chewing the leaves...
  • Lovage Lovage, Levisticum officinale :
    Herb perennial : Lovage is an old English garden herb whose use dates from the fourteenth century. ...
  • Magnolia Magnolia, Magnolia Glauca : Swamp sassafras, Sweet or White Bay
    Shrub : The beautiful magnolia has a long history of use in the traditional folklore of the South. The preparation of the bark was once official in the U.S. Ph. until the early part of the last century....
  • MayApple MayApple, Podophyllum peltatum : American Mandrake
    Perennial : The main therapeutic use of the resinous root of mayapple is that of a topical treatment for genital warts and similar papillomas caused by viral infection....
  • Mexican Oregano Mexican Oregano, Lippia graveolens : Redbrush Lippia
    Perennial Shrub : Native to the Amercian Southwest, Mexico and Central America, Lippia graveolens leaves are also used to make a traditional "country tea", that was used to treat respiratory infections and late or scanty periods....
  • Oregon Grape root Oregon Grape root, Mahonia aquifolium : Mountain Grape, holly leaved barberry
    Evergreen shrub : Herbalists use the immune-stimulating and bacteria fighting properties of Oregon grape root in the treatment of bacterial diarrhea, intestinal parasites, and eye infections. Oregon grape shared many of the properties of goldenseal, but is not botanically ...
  • Orris Root Orris Root, Iris germanica : Purple Flag, Bearded Iris
    perennial herb : Dried orris root is used in perfumes and potpourris and sachets as a fixative that enhances other aromas, and in natural products as a base in toothpastes, and cosmetics. ...
  • Pasque Flower Pasque Flower, Pulsatilla nuttalliana : Pasque Flower, Prairie Crocus
    Perennial Wildflower : Pasque flower was listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia at the time Millspaugh published his "American Medical Plants" in 1882, and was prescribed by both Eclectic physicians and homeopaths...
  • Passion Flower Passion Flower, Passiflora incarnata :
    Perennial Vine : Herbalists have a high regard for the soothing properties of passionflower and recommend it as a general nerve tonic. Passionflower is often combined with other sedative herbs....
  • Pleurisy Root Pleurisy Root, Asclepias tuberosa : Butterfly-weed. Swallow-wort, Tuber root, Wind root, Colic root, Orange Milkweed
    Perennial herb : Known popularly as pleurisy root, from its medicinal use against a wide range of respiratory and lung conditions, specifically pleurisy...
  • Poke Root Poke Root, Phytolacca americana : Pokeweed, American nightshade, pigeon berry, chui xu shang lu
    herbaceous perennial plant : Poke root tinctures are used in creams and ointments as a treatment for skin diseases, and the plant has a folklore reputation as a cancer cure that needs further study....
  • Prickly Pear Prickly Pear, Opuntia ficus-indica : Nopales, Nopal, Indian fig
    Cactus : Prickly pear is a plant in the cactus family used in traditional Mexican cooking and medicine....
  • Pumpkin Seed Pumpkin Seed, Cucurbita pepo :
    Gourd : Pumpkin seed oil is a nutritious source of vitamins and minerals and well as both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Pumpkin seed may be best known as a natural approach to treating prostate problems....
  • Raspberry Leaf Raspberry Leaf, Rubus idaeus : Raspberry Leaf
    herb : Raspberry leaf is a mild medicinal herb commonly used to treat diarrhea, colds, and stomach complaints and is a safe remedy for children...
  • Red Clover Red Clover, Trifolium pratense :
    Perennial Herb : Red Clover of most interest in menopause and in the prevention of breast cancer because of its strong concentration of natural plant estrogen...
  • Red Root Red Root, Ceanothus americanus : New Jersey tea, Wild Snowball
    Shrub : Red root is an astringent, expectorant and antispasmodic and is used by modern herbalists in the treatment of complaints such as asthma, bronchitis and coughs....
  • Sarsaparilla Root Sarsaparilla Root, Smilax sarsaparilla : zarzaparrilla
    perennial trailing vine : Sarsaparilla makes a good all round tonic, and the spicy, pleasant smelling root is what gave old fashioned root beer its bite and is the part used medicinally....
  • Sassafras root Sassafras root, Sassafras albidum : Sassafrass, Saloop, ague tree, root beer tree,
    Tree : A cup of sassafras root tea has been a traditional spring tonic in the South for hundreds of years, and was part of the home medicine of the early American colonists...
  • Saw Palmetto Saw Palmetto, Serenoa serrulata : Sabal Sabal serrulata
    Shrub : Saw palmetto berry tea is commonly recommended for benign enlargement of the prostate and to treat chronic urinary tract infections....
  • Skullcap Skullcap, Scutellaria lateriflora : Virginian skull cap, mad-dog skull cap, scullcap
    hardy perennial herb : The plant has been used for centuries by herbalists as an effective nerve tonic and sedative. Its common uses include relief of nervous tension, anxiety and nerve pain....
  • Snakeroot Snakeroot , Aristolochia spp : Virginia snakeroot, birthworts, pipevines or Dutchman's pipes
    evergreen and deciduous woody vines and herbaceous perennials : Snakeroot was used in early America in adjunct to quinine to promote perspiration and break fevers, and treat snakebites. Other Aristolochia spp have been used in TCM. ...
  • Solomon's Seal Solomon's Seal, Polygonatum biflorum :
    Perennial herb : Polygonatum has been used medicinally by many diverse folk traditions, Native American healers in North America, and in ancient Chinese medicine in Asia in lung, stomach and skin complaints. ...
  • Speedwell Speedwell, Veronica officinalis : common speedwell ,common gypsyweed, Fluellin, Paul's Betony Groundhele
    Perennial Herb : Speedwell can be used in herbal tea cough remedies as an expectorant, and also has diaphoretic, diuretic and tonic properties....
  • Spikenard Spikenard, Aralia racemosa : Indian Root, Spignet, Fleabane
    rhizomatous herbaceous perennial : Spikenard root has a mild, pleasant licorice like flavor, often used as a substitute for sarsaparilla, though unrelated botanically, Spikenard is a relative of ginseng....
  • Spruce Oil Spruce Oil, Picea mariana :
    Evergreen Tree : Calming vapors break up congestion and improve breathing. Several species of evergreen conifer trees are used to produce spruce essential oils...
  • Sunflower Sunflower, Helianthus annuus :
    Annual Plant : Sunflower seeds, and the oil that is pressed from them are the part of the plant used most often for food and medicine. ...
  • Thuja oil Thuja oil, Thuja occidentalis : Arborvitae, tree of life, white cedar, yellow cedar, American cedar
    evergreen coniferous tree : Thuja may be used in hot compresses and steam baths to ease rheumatism, arthritis, and achy muscles....
  • Turkey Rhubarb Turkey Rhubarb, Rheum palmatum : Chinese rhubarb
    perennial plants : Turkey rhubarb is a purgative, and is most often used in herbal formulas for it's strong laxative effects ...
  • Uva Ursi Uva Ursi, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi : Bearberry
    Woody Evergreen Shrub : Uva ursi contains a considerable amount of tannins ( up to 40 percent) making it one of natures most powerful astringents. Uva usi is a strong herb that should be reserved for those times when a quick intervention is needed....
  • Watercress Watercress, Nasturtium officinale :
    Perennial herb : Watercress is a nutritional culinary food that can also be considered a medicinal plant. Watercress can help reduce the prevalence and duration of colds when included in the diet along with garlic, onions, and cayenne. It is one of the natural food ...

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