Medicinal plants of the American West

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Many plants that grow in the American West have use in traditional and herbal medicine.

Eriogonum fasciculatum, used in treatment of headaches and diarrhea.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) contains a large number of pharmacologically active compounds, and has been used for centuries as an effective laxative and diuretic, and as a treatment for bile or liver problems.[1]

List of medicinal plants[edit]

  • Broadleaf plantain (Plantago major) is one of the most abundant and widely distributed medicinal crops in the world. A poultice of the leaves can be applied to wounds, stings, and sores in order to facilitate healing and prevent infection.[medical citation needed] The active chemical constituents are aucubin (an anti-microbial agent), allantoin (which stimulates cellular growth and tissue regeneration), and mucilage (which reduces pain and discomfort).[medical citation needed] Plantain has astringent properties, and a tea made from the leaves can be ingested to treat diarrhea and soothe raw internal membranes.[medical citation needed]
  • California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) was chewed by California Indians to treat toothache and to decrease milk production in nursing mothers anti-galactogogue.[4]
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is used for various ailments including cramps, fevers, and toothache.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schutz, K.; Carle, R.; Schieber, A. (2006). "Taraxacum—A review on its phytochemical and pharmacological profile". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 107 (3): 313–323. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2006.07.021. PMID 16950583.  edit
  2. ^ "Palliative Care Among Chumash People". Wild Food Plants. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-10-06. Retrieved 2007-07-14. 
  3. ^ "Takape Kakaaka". Tongva Medicinal Plants. Retrieved 2007-07-14. 
  4. ^ Strike, Sandra (1994). "Aboriginal Uses of California's Indigenous Plants". Ethnobotany of the California Indians. Vol. 2. Champaign: Koeltz Scientific Books. ISBN 1-878762-51-6. 
  5. ^ Sales of Supplements Containing Ephedrine Alkaloids (Ephedra) Prohibited. From the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed September 12, 2007.
  6. ^ Pérez Gutiérrez RM, Laguna GY, Walkowski A. (November–December 1985). "Diuretic activity of Mexican equisetum". J Ethnopharmacol 14 (2–3): 269–272. doi:10.1016/0378-8741(85)90093-5. PMID 4094471. 
  7. ^ "Herbs and Spices". Commercial Vegetable Production Guides. Oregon State University. April 2, 2002. Retrieved 2007-07-14. 
  8. ^ Mackowiak PA (October 2000). "Brief history of antipyretic therapy". Clin. Infect. Dis. 31 (Suppl 5): S154–S156. doi:10.1086/317510. PMID 11113017. 
  9. ^ "Yarrow". Factsheets. Purdue Center for New Crops. December 2, 1997. Retrieved 2007-07-14. 

Further reading[edit]

There are several books about western medicinal plants:

  • Moerman, Daniel E. (2000). Native American Ethnobotany. Timber Press, Portland. ISBN 0-88192-453-9.  A comprehensive collection of many plants with descriptions of their uses.
  • Strike, Sandra S. (1994). "Aboriginal uses of California's Indigenous Plants". Ethnobotany of the California Indians. Volume 2. Koeltz Scientific Books USA, Champaign. ISBN 1-878762-51-6.  Very thorough discussion of California medicinal plants.
  • George R. Mead (1972). The Ethnobotany of the California Indians: A Compendium of the Plants, Their Users, and Their Uses. University of Northern Colorado Press, Greeley.  A partial list of plants used in the west.
  • S. Foster and C. Hobbs (2002). The Peterson Field Guide Series A Field Guide to Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs. Houghton Mifflin Co, New York. ISBN 0-395-83807-X.  A field guide with photographs of each plant and descriptions of their uses.
  • C. Garcia and J.D. Adams (2005). Healing with Medicinal Plants of the West - Cultural and Scientific Basis for their Use. Abedus Press, La Crescenta. ISBN 0-9763091-0-6.  Gives the Chumash Indian and scientific basis for use of many plants, along with color photographs of each plant. Cecilia Garcia is a Chumash healer.
  • Lowell J. Bean and Katherine Siva Saubel (1972). Temalpakh: Cahuilla Indian Knowledge and Usage of Plants. Malki Museum Press, Morongo Indian Reservation.  A discussion of Cahuilla Indian plants and their uses. Saubel is a Cahuilla Indian.

External links[edit]