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The Wisdom of Indian Medicine

The Wisdom of Indian Medicine

The definition of Indian “Medicine” reveals important things for our growth and healing as individuals and as a society.

Find out what the wisdom behind the concept of Indian Medicine offers us today.

The meaning of the term Medicine is much broader than “treatment,” “health,” “self-care,” or “prevention.” The traditional idea of Medicine is based on the earlier meanings of the four cardinal directions and the Universal Circle. When the sacred pipe was shared in the Four Directions in earlier years, each of the directions had its own prayer of thanks. I frame the meanings of the Four Directions as spiritual in the East, natural in the South, physical in the West, and mental in the North. These broad aspects help to describe the importance and the sacred influence of each of the directions in our lives. Everything exists within the Universal Circle of life, energy, influence, and relationship that makes up our Medicine. The phrases “Medicine bundle” or “Medicine bag” are ways of describing all that exists that influences or assists us in the circle of life.

In earlier Cherokee times the Medicine was based on formulas, and ceremony and rituals included the family, clan, and tribe. These Medicine formulas were traditional values that guided and helped the individual and family to find healing. A key in understanding Cherokee Indian Medicine is to accept that within our circle of life are influences and interferences that upset our balance and harmony as an individual and part of the family, clan, and tribe. Unlike the prevailing thought of today, the individual is not the center of the circle; he or she is an integral part of the circle. When a person fails, abuses drugs, or becomes diseased, it affects the entire circle of life. As an elder said, “Disease or illness affects all of us, not just the individual person.” The Medicine is to prevent such occurrences, or to bring that harmony and balance back to the circle. The formulas and remedies respect this harmony and balance for the benefit of all the circle.

Read more: Spirit, Guidance, Self-Help

Adapted from The Cherokee Herbal, by J.T. Garrett (Inner Traditions, 2003). Copyright (c) 2003 by J.T. Garrett. Reprinted by permission of Inner Traditions.
Adapted from The Cherokee Herbal, by J.T. Garrett (Inner Traditions, 2003).

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.

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The Cherokee Herbal

Native plant medicine from the four now


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3:59PM PST on Mar 4, 2013

Thank you.

3:58PM PST on Mar 4, 2013

Thank you.

3:57PM PST on Mar 4, 2013

Thank you.

3:57PM PST on Mar 4, 2013

Thank you.

3:56PM PST on Mar 4, 2013

Thank you.

12:30AM PST on Jan 3, 2013

I thought this was about Indian medicine, it's about Native American medicine. You should fix the headline.

8:57PM PDT on Jun 28, 2012

excellent post

12:21AM PDT on Jun 14, 2012

Thanks for the info.

1:24PM PDT on May 28, 2011


1:24AM PST on Dec 11, 2010

Thanks for the info.

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