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Home > Books & Reviews > Pagan > The Cherokee Herbal Search

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Book Review:
The Cherokee Herbal: Native Plant Medicine from the Four Directions

Author: J. T. Garrett
Trade Paperback, 288 pages
Publisher: Bear and Company
Publication date: 2003
List: US$15.00
ISBN: 1879181967
Price & More Info: Click Here

Mr. Garret admits from the very beginning that this book is incomplete. The reasons it is incomplete are simply because a lot of the information is held sacred by the elders of the various tribes he spoke with, and some of the information is not useable within the system of Western medicine. There are no formulas given here, since each medicine elder pretty much "makes it up" as they go along.

Mr. Garret is uniquely qualified to write on the subject of Native Medicine, having spent years learning from his elders, and working within the health system. He blends the knowledge of his Cherokee ancestors, his Irish ancestors, and the Western medical system.

The Native American concept of "Medicine" as opposed to Western concepts of "medicine" is one of being in balance, not merely of treating illnesses. Herbs are used to balance the aspects of human life.

Different herbs are used in different ways for each of the different directions. East medicine is concerned with the heart and energy within the body as well as those used in the seven traditional ceremonies of the Cherokee. They are also associated with spiritual values. South medicine is concerned with the innocence of life and the energy of youthfulness, and with values associated with nature. West medicine is concerned with the internal aspects of the physical body building strength and endurance, the digestive and endocrine system urinary functions and internal infections. Finally, North medicine is involved with the respiratory and nervous systems, the ears, nose, throat and mouth as well as allaying influences that interfere with balance and breathing.

The author devotes about 50 pages giving the background and underpinnings of Cherokee medicine. The remaining pages are devoted to the herbs and plants and their uses. Each section ends with a request for information about some herbal uses that have been lost over the generations.

Many of the herbs are used in more than one direction, with different parts, or methods of preparation being used in each case.

This book is not going to make you a medicine man or woman, only long years of training and experience will do that. It can serve as a resource for those interested in learning more about the use of herbs in balancing your life and systems.

Reviewed by Mike Gleason

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