Medicinal Plant Resources
Probably the least understood information about
Luiseño culture is our traditional use of plants for medicinal purposes. Extreme caution has to be utilized
in making any type of representation or recommendation of plants or herbs for medicinal purposes. Like food plants, there are many ethnographic sources available that identify many plants as having medicinal application. Unfortunately, specific knowledge as to preparation may be lost forever in many cases.
Common sense dictates: "if it is bitter don't eat it;" but in the case of medicinal plants, the bitterness may be key to dosage and treatment. Self-administration and documentation may be the only way in which the knowledge of medicinal plants is regained. There are now several scientific means by which to analyze the properties of plants and determine the specific chemical properties of each, but this still doesn't speak to the issue of preparation and dosage.
Some known medicinal plants are:
- Yerba buena
- Yerba mansa
- Yerba santa
- White sage
- Black sage
- Mustang mint
Many forms of preparation and application were/are utilized, including teas, broths, poultices, salves, pastes, ingestion and smoking. Caution should be taken in making any attempt to distribute this information. It may be that this is one of those times when custom and tradition should prevail and that only those persons recognized by the tribe should participate in the use of these medicines.
Some of these medicines were utilized to induce vomiting, break fever, draw poisons from wounds, treat viral complication, heart disease, blood disorders, stomach disorders, athlete's foot, and dandruff. Spiritual application of these plants was and is just as important as physical application.