Arnica (Arnica montana) is used as an anti-inflammatory and for osteoarthritis. (wikipedia) Health

On the Path of Her Ancestors: Wild Harvest Native Teas

Plants and herbs have been used traditionally in Native medicine for thousands of years, in many forms such as teas, tinctures, poultices, smudging and sweat lodges. Hundreds of different plants have been used for their therapeutic indications, and it is thought that over 200 modern pharmaceuticals have their roots in Native medicine. Penicillin, for example, was used in North America for centuries before its discovery in Europe.

Native medicine is holistic –cures are indicated for mind, body and spirit– as opposed to modern medicine, which only concerns itself with the body. Herbal remedies also have a much lower, and less serious, incidence of unwanted side-effects than many synthetic drugs, which avoids the need to treat side-effects with further medications.


Growing interest in traditional healing

Due to dissatisfaction with pharmaceutical treatments, and a wish to live closer to nature, many people nowadays are turning to traditional healing methods, both within and outside of Native communities. Interest in herbal medicines is growing exponentially, and those who possess the knowledge to apply them are finding themselves in great demand.

For the past decade, Judy Cadrin has been following the trail of her Plains Cree ancestors into the wilds of Montana and British Columbia, to seek out the traditional edible and medicinal plants they once used, and making both the wisdom and species available to people today.

Along the way she has continued to unearth and practice the old wisdom of harvesting and drying her gatherings, and the combining of different species to address specific conditions that continue to undermine people’s health.

Included in her special blends are teas concocted to combat arthritis, digestive problems, flu and viruses, and even hair loss and greying, whilst others are designed to increase energy, boost the immune system, or promote all round health. I sampled the arthritis blend, which was mild and pleasant, and the high blood pressure tea, which was a deep orange-brown colour, and tasted more rounded and wholesome. Both of the teas I tasted were a lot easier to drink than some other medicinal teas I’ve tried!


Slow dried, well steeped, and a good cup of healthful tea

Many of the teas have imaginative names such as ‘Tee-Pee Tea’ for urinary problems, and ‘Mr T’ for prostate and libido. Judy also welcomes private consultations to assemble therapeutic blends for individual health concerns. Of course, no medical claims are being made, because the teas’ effectiveness is not backed up by official research – only thousands of years of traditional use and the anecdotal evidence of her many loyal and enthusiastic customers.

All of the ingredients are handpicked from the wilds of the countryside on Vancouver Island and traditionally slow-dried, which preserves the natural goodness that commercial drying may destroy. This process accounts for the more robust flavour of these pure and natural teas – only a quarter teaspoon per cup is needed, and the leaves can usually be reused several times before losing their potency.

Judy operates from Alert Bay on Cormorant Island off North Vancouver Island, where she branches out to give medicinal plant workshops and lectures as well as walking tours in the wild to identify species and their uses. The urgent need to sustain wild growth and guard it against over-harvesting and the destructive incursions of modern society into the remaining virgin areas of the land is a passionate concern and is an important part of her work.

Wild Harvest Native Teas are sold in BC at the following locations: Port Hardy Museum Gift Store, I-HOS Native Gallery (Comox), Heaven Scent Aromatherapy (Nanaimo), East of Java (Port McNeil), North Island Wildlife Recovery Association (Coombs), Dr John Jensen’s Clinic(Alert Bay), in 25 cup gift bags at $10 each. Mail orders are also available at $20 for a 50 cup bag, with discounts on purchases of 3 or more teas.

For more info: call Judy at 250-974-2505, or


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