Medicinal Plants of the American Southwest

MedicinalPlantsAmericanSoutTHM BOOK SUMMARY

Virtually every region in the world has some kind of history of using foods and plants of the area for treatment of various medical issues. For certain none have the long history of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic (Indian) medicine; however, all areas have some kind of history—from Africa to Europe to South America.

The American Southwest is no exception.

Most people who live—or drive through—the American Southwest may think it does not have much to offer. It doesn’t possess the rich foliage that is seen in areas that boast a long list of traditional herbs. And the dry weather certainly doesn’t bode well for growing mushrooms, the food that possibly provides the widest range of historical medicinal uses. But it does contain a surprising amount of medicinal food resources, and the book Medicinal Plants of the American Southwest, by Charles W. Kane, documents a long list of them.

PlantsOfAmericanSouthwestThe brief back-cover biography of Mr. Kane says his books are “known from Harvard’s botany library to coffee tables and truck stops.” It also says he is known for his “no-nonsense approach to this often misunderstood subject”… and this book is certainly no-nonsense.

Each plant is listed in alphabetical order, and each listing starts with the technical names. From there each listing then follows the same format: Description, Distribution, Chemistry, Medicinal Uses, Indications, Collection Methods, Preparations, Dosage, Cautions and, finally, Other Uses.

The book is 368 pages and includes information on over 160 plants found in America’s Southwest. The book contains a lengthy Therapeutic Index, Bibliography, Glossary and General Index, all of which makes research for the novice a breeze.

Here are few of my favorite listings in the book, including a partial list of each plant’s uses:

JUNIPER
Juniper tinctures are used for treating urinary tract infections; juniper oil and salves for eczema and psoriasis.

MESQUITE
Powder from mesquite leaves are used for treating cuts, scrapes and other superficial inflammation needs.

OCOTILLO
Used as a mild expectorant and for treating hemorrhoids. Salve made from the roots were widely used by Mexican vaqueros for treating wounds on horses and other stock animals.

SAGEBRUSH
Antimicrobial, anti-parasitic, fever breaker. The essential oi present in sagebrush is stimulating to menses. Sagebrush is also used for its analgesic properties.

Medicinal Plants of the American Southwest is available at tourist destinations in Arizona and at Amazon.

 

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