Native American Healing

Native American Healing,
11/01/2008, Find Support & Treatment

Native American healing is a broad term that includes healing beliefs and practices of hundreds of indigenous tribes of North America. It combines religion, spirituality, herbal medicine, and rituals that are used to treat people with medical and emotional conditions.

Available scientific evidence does not support claims that Native American healing can cure cancer or any other disease. However, the communal support provided by this approach to health care can have some worthwhile physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits.

 How is it promoted for use?

From the Native American perspective, medicine is more about healing the person than curing a disease. Traditional healers aim to “make whole” by restoring well-being and harmonious relationships with the community and the spirit of nature, which is sometimes called God or the Great Mystery. Native American healing is based on the belief that everyone and everything on earth is interconnected, and every person, animal, and plant has a spirit or essence. Even an object, such as a river or rock, and even the earth itself, may be considered to have this kind of spirit.
Native Americans traditionally believe that illness stems from spiritual problems. They also say that diseases are more likely to invade the body of a person who is imbalanced, has negative thinking, or lives an unhealthy lifestyle. Some Native American healers believe that inherited conditions, such as birth defects, are caused by the parents’ immoral lifestyles and are not easily treated. Others believe that such conditions reflect a touch from the Creator and may consider them a kind of gift. Native American healing practices aim to find and restore balance and wholeness in a person to restore one to a healthy and spiritually pure state.
Some people believe Native American medicine can help cure physical diseases, injuries, and emotional problems. Some healers claim to have cured conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, thyroid problems, skin rashes, asthma, and cancer. Available scientific studies do not support these claims.
There are many types of Native American healing practices, and they are promoted to help with a variety of ills. Some of the most common aspects of Native American healing include the use of herbal remedies, purifying rituals, shamanism, and symbolic healing rituals to treat illnesses of both the body and spirit. Herbal remedies are used to treat many physical conditions. Practitioners use purifying rituals to cleanse the body and prepare the person for healing. Shamanism is based on the idea that spirits cause illness, and a Native American healer called a shaman focuses on using spiritual healing powers to treat people. Symbolic healing rituals, which can involve family and friends of the sick person, are used to invoke the spirits to help heal the sick person.
Healers may include shamans, herbalists, spiritual healers, and medicine men or women. Many Native Americans see their healers for spiritual reasons, such as to seek guidance, truth, balance, reassurance, and spiritual well-being, while still using conventional medicine to deal with “white man’s illness.” However, they believe that the spirit is an inseparable element of healing.

What does it involve?

Native American healing practices vary greatly because there are more than five hundred Native American Nations (commonly called tribes). There are many tribal differences, so it is not surprising that healing rituals and beliefs vary a great deal. The most sacred traditions are still kept secret, passed along from one healer to the next. Because of these factors, information on healing practices is general and somewhat limited.
However, the many types of Native American medicine do have some basic rituals and healing practices in common. Because of Native American tribes’ extensive knowledge of herbs, one of the most common forms of Native American healing involves the use of herbal remedies, which can include teas, tinctures, and salves. For example, one remedy for pain uses bark from a willow tree, which contains acetylsalicylic acid, also known as aspirin.
Purifying and cleansing the body is also an important technique used in Native American healing. Sweat lodges (special, darkened enclosures heated with stones from a fire) or special teas that induce vomiting may be used by the healer for this purpose. A practice called smudging, which involves cleansing a place or person with the smoke of sacred plants, can be used to bring about an altered state of consciousness and sensitivity, making a person more open to the healing techniques. Because some illnesses are believed to come from angry spirits, healers may also invoke the healing powers of spirits. They may also use special rituals to try to appease the angered spirits.
Another practice of Native American healing, symbolic healing rituals, can involve whole communities. These rituals use ceremonies that can include chanting, singing, painting bodies, dancing, exorcisms, sand paintings, and even limited use of mind-altering substances to persuade the spirits to heal the sick person. Rituals can last hours or even weeks. These ceremonies are a way of asking for help from the spiritual dimension. Prayer is also an essential part of all Native American healing techniques.
Native American treatment is usually a slow process, spread over a period of days or weeks. It may involve taking time from one’s daily activities for reflection, emotional awareness, and meditation. The healer may spend a great deal of time with the person seeking help. Healing is said to take place within the context of the relationship with the healer.

What is the history behind it?

Native American healing has been practiced in North America for up to 40,000 years. It appears to have roots in common with different cultures, such as ancient Ayurvedic and Chinese traditions, but it has also been influenced by the environments in which Native Americans settled, and the nature, plants, and animals around them. Other healing practices were influenced over time by the migration of tribes and contact with other tribes along trade routes. The tribes gathered many herbs from the surrounding environment and sometimes traded over long distances.
Many Native medicine practices were driven underground or lost because they were banned or illegal in parts of the United States until 1978, when the American Indian Religious Freedom Act was passed. Even now, there are difficulties with ceremonies and rituals on sacred sites. These activities are sometimes forbidden because the land now serves other purposes. Today, Native American and American Indian community-based medical systems still practice some Native American healing practices and rituals.

What is the evidence?

One clinical trial examined 116 people with a variety of ailments (such as infertility, chest and back pain, asthma, depression, diabetes, and cancer) who were treated with traditional Native American healing. More than 80% showed some benefit after a 7 to 28 day intensive healing experience. Five years later, 50 of the original participants said they were cured of their diseases, while another 41 said they felt better. Another 9 reported no change, 5 were worse, and 2 had died. However, the comparison group who received different treatments also showed benefits, and the patients’ reports were not verified by doctors. Because of the limitations in this study, it is impossible to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of Native American healing. More clinical studies are needed to confirm the benefits of the specific healing methods.
Although Native American healing has not been proven to cure disease, individual reports suggest that it can reduce pain and stress and improve quality of life. The communal and spiritual support provided by this type of healing could have helpful effects. Prayers, introspection, and meditation can be calming and can help to reduce stress.
Because Native American healing is based on spirituality, there are very few scientific studies to support the validity of the practices. It is hard to study Native American healing in a scientific way because practices differ between various Nations, healers, and illnesses. Many Native Americans do not want their practices studied because they believe sharing such information exploits their culture and weakens their power to heal. Historically, outside society has sometimes misinterpreted Native American culture and beliefs, which may increase this reluctance.

Are there any possible problems or complications?

These substances may have not been thoroughly tested to find out how they interact with medicines, foods, or dietary supplements. Even though some reports of interactions and harmful effects may be published, full studies of interactions and effects are not often available. Because of these limitations, any information on ill effects and interactions below should be considered incomplete.
Like other complementary therapies, Native American healing practices may be used in relieving certain symptoms of cancer and side effects of cancer treatment. People with cancer and other chronic conditions should talk to their doctors before using purification rituals or herbal remedies. Cleansing rituals may be particularly harmful to people who are already dehydrated or in a weakened state. Relying on this type of treatment alone and avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences.
 This article is taken from, Treatments and Side Effects

About Irmina Santaika

Irmina Santaika- Stiles is an Artist, Early Childhood Education Instructor and Bio-Energy Distant Healer. She has a private Bio-Energy Healing practice in which she creates Healing Sounds with Personalized Prayers for individual clients and provides Bio-Energy Healing consultations. In her free time she enjoys to paint, to illustrate books and to draw. Irmina also loves to take care of her plants, and to spend time with her beloved husband Ronald and world’s cutest dog Giant Schnauzer Baldur. Read more about Irmina Santaika here:

8 Responses to Native American Healing

  1. Sun Daughter says:

    Chief Seattle once said: “You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground they spit upon themselves.
    This we know. The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.”

  2. Lucius Great Spirit says:

    Stallone it’s for you :)
    Earth Prayer

    Grandfather, Great Spirit, once more behold me on earth and lean to hear my feeble voice.
    You lived first, and you are older than all need, older than all prayer.
    All things belong to you — the two-legged, the four-legged, the wings of the air, and all green things that live.
    You have set the powers of the four quarters of the earth to cross each other.
    You have made me cross the good road and road of difficulties, and where they cross, the place is holy.
    Day in, day out, forevermore, you are the life of things.
    Hey! Lean to hear my feeble voice.
    At the center of the sacred hoop
    You have said that I should make the tree to bloom.
    With tears running, O Great Spirit, my Grandfather,
    With running eyes I must say
    The tree has never bloomed
    Here I stand, and the tree is withered.
    Again, I recall the great vision you gave me.
    It may be that some little root of the sacred tree still lives.
    Nourish it then
    That it may leaf
    And bloom
    And fill with singing birds!
    Hear me, that the people may once again
    Find the good road
    And the shielding tree.
    – Black Elk

  3. Stallone says:

    Traditional worship practices are a part of Native American tribal gatherings with dance, rhythm, songs and trance. Sacred narratives and beliefs are deeply based in Nature and are rich with the symbolism of seasons, weather, plants, animals, earth, water, sky and fire. The principle of an all embracing, universal and omniscient Great Spirit, a connection to the Earth, diverse creation narratives and collective memories of ancient ancestors are common among tribes.

  4. Brice says:

    “If the white man wants to live in peace with the Indian, he can live in peace. Treat all men alike.Give them all the same law.Give them all an even chance to live and grow.All men were made by the same Great Spirit Chief. They are all brothers. The Earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it. Let me be a free man,free to travel, free to stop,free to work,free to trade where I choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers,free to think and talk and act for myself, and I will obey every law, or submit to the penalty.”
    Chief Joseph, Nez Perce (Nimiputimt)

  5. healing says:

    Native American philosophy recognizes aspects of the natural world that cannot be seen by the eye or by technology, but which can be experienced directly and intuitively. Just as each human has an immeasurable inner life which powerfully influences well-being, so does nature include unseen but compelling forces which must be addressed and integrated for true balance to be achieved :)

  6. Adiles, Big Nose says:

    Native American healers are traditionally trained as apprentices over an indeterminate, extended period of time. Students align themselves with a healing elder whom they trust to supervise their overall growth. The bond between elder and apprentice is profound, and elders do not readily accept students. There may be years of testing the student’s intention and commitment before the dynamic stage of training begins. This preparation period is considered essential, a time in which the prospective apprentice learns patience, respect, and perhaps most importantly, how to receive knowledge.

  7. Vellucci American says:

    Native American healing has saved millions of lives, thanks to the invention of penicillin, which was derived from a Native American treatment for infection using mold. Before penicillin was discovered by doctors, Native Americans had been using it as a remedy for centuries to treat illnesses!

  8. Aline says:

    Yes, I agree, native American healing incorporates mind and body techniques to treat almost any condition whether it is psychological or physical. According to principles of native American healing, illnesses are not rooted in the affected area, but are cause by spiritual imbalances which can be corrected by herbs, meditation and rituals.

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