by Abaki Beck

Here are instructions on how to prepare a basic medicinal tea – from picking to drinking medicinal tea.

    1. Ethics: Collect plants selectively. Do not over pick, select a few adult plants at each area and move to another area. Avoid collecting the whole plant (unless necessary).
    2. Tips for picking: When picking a root – like blue root – use a screwdriver or stick to help you pry it out of the soil without tearing it too much. Most roots can be easily pulled out of the ground if they are being picked at the right time, except alum root which you have to dig. If picking leaves, bring shears or heavy scissors (like for gardening). When gathering leaves – like for huckleberry tea – it is easiest to cut the leaf and the branch, instead of picking the leaves by hand. It is easy to clean out the sticks and branches later.

 

  • Cleaning: Clean your roots with water and dry them. At this point, it is important to clean dirt or extra plants bits – unwanted leaves, sticks, et cetera – off the plant.
  • Drying: Different plants are dried differently. Roots can be hung from a pole off the ceiling. Leaves and berries can be easily dried in a pan or canvas cloth. Berries should be rotated occasionally while drying.
  • Making tea: Boil the water before placing the root or leaf in and let it steep (soak) for about half an hour. Do not put the plant in before you boil the water, or it will weaken the medicine. The same plant can be boiled multiple times until it gets too weak – for example, boiled alum root (an astringent used for blisters, wounds, or healing arthritic pain) can be used around three times.

 

 

The Blackfeet utilized over 200 different plants for food, medicine, and material goods. Here are ten medicinal plants you can integrate into your life (that’s only 2% of Blackfeet knowledge!).

 

  1. Otsipiis, Salix spp., Willow bark
  • Scrape off the inside of the bark.
  • Can be mixed with oil and used externally or made into tea and ingested.
  • An analgesic pain reliever.

 

  1. Áíksikkooki, Yucca glauca, Yucca
  • Dry the roots or leaves.
  • Anti-inflammatory for arthritis or injury.
  • Can be used internally or externally.

 

  1. Ááhsowa, Glycyrrhiza lepidota, Licorice root
  • Dry roots and drink as tea.
  • Reduces swelling in the stomach and throat.

 

  1. Otahkoyitsi, Comandra umbellata, Blueroot
  • Dry roots and boil into tea.
  • Use as pain relief.

 

  1. Ka’kitsímo, Mentha spp., Peppermint
  • Dry leaves and drink as tea.
  • Relieves stomach pain and nausea.
  • Helps with indigestion.

 

  1. Otohtoksiin, Rubus strigosis, Raspberry
  • Dry leaves and drink as tea.
  • Regulates menstrual cycle.
  • Antioxidant.
  • Muscle and blood vessel relaxant.

 

  1. Aapaawapsspi, Vaccinium spp., Huckleberry
  • Dry leaves and berries and use as tea.
  • Lowers blood sugar.
  • Improves eyesight.

 

  1. Áípahtsíkaimo, Valeriana spp., Valerian root
  • Dry root and use as a tea.
  • Use as anti-anxiety.
  • Addresses sleep issues.

 

  1. Niistskápa’s, Lomatium triternatum, Biscuit root
  • Boil and drink dried leaf (not root) as tea.
  • Use as cold or cough medicine.
  • Biscuit root and carrots are different species from the same plant family.

 

  1. Iihtaomaitsimihkio’p, Eriogunum umbellatum, Red leaf
  • Dry leaves and make into tea.
  • Use to increase appetite and address stomach pain.
  • Can be mixed with huckleberry tea.