Manataka American Indian Council



Proudly Presents







Medicine for the People

By Harvey Walks With Hawks Doyle


Know your Herbs?

     If you have taken an aspirin then you have been closely associated to herbs.  Aspirin was derived from an herb.  If you have taken a decongestant that did not make you drowsy?  Then you have taken an ingredient or substance that came from an herb. 

     In the past almost all our ancestors and inhabitants of earth were dependant on herbs or plants.  Today's medicines are synthetic forms of herbs.  Aspirin is a derivative of the bark of the willow tree. One fourth of all medicines contain active ingredients that are prescribed by pharmacists came from herbs. 

     Our ancestors or primitive people who roamed the earth discovered that plants were beneficial to them medicinally.  They watched animals to see what they did when they were sick and they then ate the same plants.  When they ate plants that made them sick then they refrained from using that plant.  Most of their experiences were based on trial and error.  When someone felt better after eating a certain herb or plants others would try them.  Eventually  primitive people found plants that helped them sleep, plants that helped them stay awake, plants that cured stomach aches and plants that soothed sunburned skin.

     This tradition of ancient remedies continued for centuries until the beginning of modern medicine and its knowledge of chemistry.  When synthetic pharmaceuticals began to surface in the late nineteenth century doctors began to view herbal remedies as old-fashioned. Some practitioners, homeopaths, osteopaths, chiropractors and hydrotherapists as well as eclectics, a group of Americans who combined European herbal traditions with the plant lore borrowed from Native American traditions.

     More problems would arise from the man made drugs. The drug industry by 1945 had become a multinational, mega-billion-dollar enterprise.  The more powerful drugs had many problems that came with them, we call them side effects.  One of the worst was a sleeping pill that was given to pregnant women in the l960's.  It caused many birth defects created by the synthetic pill.  After that many practitioners, doctors and patients began to see a reason to seek our the gentler or more natural medicines that are herbs.

     People are searching for self-care and disease prevention in this time of health soaring care costs.
Herbal remedies for a great first line of defense for colds, flu, and other diseases.  When it comes to heart problems many physicians are treating them with herbal remedies.  Such herbs or plants are ginger, peppermint, papaya and fennel can help reduce the nausea caused by chemotherapy, for instance.  Irish moss can thin the blood, and hawthorn berries, rosemary and motherwort, improves circulation in people with heart disease.  Whether using them for prevention, or as a home remedy for drugs, people are using a lot more herbs because they do not have the side effects that pharmaceutical drugs have. 

     One must remember that there are herbs that are hazardous.  Some people believe that all herbs or herbal products are safe.  This is not a completes list of the herbs that are hazardous but these are some that should not be used without proper supervision from a health care provider:












Harmful in large doses; may cause liver damage and cancer.

Toxic, diuretic

May cause illness; Prolonged use can cause liver damage.

May cause cancer.

May cause liver damage and cancer (Can use externally)

Potent heart toxin

The essential oil may cause convulsions in large doses, possibly harmful to pregnant women.

May cause respiratory paralysis and convulsions if used in excessive amounts.

May make skin more susceptible to damage from sunlight. 

Excessive use may cause cancer in some people if use in large amounts.

The following herbs are potentially dangerous and should be used with caution:



Juniper .........



Should not be used by heart patients, high blood pressure, diabetes or thyroid disease.

Should not be used by women who are pregnant or people with kidney disease.

Excessive amounts may cause fluid retention and high blood pressure.

Side effects include nausea, vomiting, high blood pressure, palpitations, insomnia and tremors.



Joe Pye weed is an unusual name for an ornamental plant that does not have "weed-like" tendencies. Legend tells us that it was named after an American Indian named Joe Pye, who was said to have cured typhus with it. Joe Pye weed has also been called "purple boneset" because the stems are purple at the joints. The leaves and roots of Joe Pye weed have been used throughout the years as an alternative medicine. It has been said to help with from everything rheumatism and urinary problems to fluid retention. Although Eupatorium purpureum is the native species, many Joe Pye weed plants sold by the nursery industry are probably E. maculatum. It has more attractive foliage and the flower heads contain nearly twice as many flowers. 'Gateway' is popular cultivar for home gardens because it is somewhat shorter and produces large mauve-pink flowers at the top of reddish-purple stems.


Everyone should be careful when taking herbs. Most herbal remedies are safe, but a few could be quite dangerous, especially when used in combinations with prescription drugs or over the counter drugs or when used by people with pre-existing health problems. Goldenseal and Echinacea are both a powerful antibiotic and may help you fight colds, flu and other types of infection.  When used for long periods of time or for chronic infections, it should be taken in cycles, such as two to three weeks on and two weeks off.  Taken without a break in the cycle may cause you to get sicker than better.

     Herbs don't necessarily work quickly for chronic health problems.  You might take herbal remedies or herbal tea three months before you will see results.  One must remember that you are getting a mild dose of photochemical or nutrients each day and it takes longer to fight off the disease or sickness, but there is usually no side effects like modern day medicines.  Most people who take herbs or drink herbal tea give up too fast, they dont wait long enough, they dont take the herb long enough for it to be effective. 

    We have a widespread use of antibiotics, which has given rise to strains of bacteria that have become highly resistant to most drugs in the conventional pharmaceutical arena. A lot of man made antibiotics have healed many but as time rolls on each disease is challenging each antibiotic that we are taking.  This a war between bacteria and viruses and our immune systems.


     Tuberculosis keeps turning up in new forms that do not respond to antibiotics.  Natural or Alternative medicines use herbs, juices, supplements, and dietary changes to boost the immune system and therefore the greatest medicine toward a foreign bacteria or virus is our own immune system.  If you have a positive attitude,  a healthy immune system, proper diet, exercise daily then you will be able to heal yourself.  The best care for a healthy life is to utilize all avenues of the medical system.  When one fails then try another one.  I personally use Herbal Teas.  I go to the physician usually 1 every six months and he tells me that I am in excellent health and I just keep on drinking my pint of herbal tea each day.


Wa Do.  Harvey


These statements have not been evaluated by the Federal Drug Administration.  None of the herbs or products on this website are intended to diagnose, treat, cure any type of ailments or diseases. Consult your physician or health care provider before using herbs.  Walks With Hawks Herbs