Moxibustion by Midwestern Amerindians

Lead plant, A. canescens, is listed as one of the various species used for moxibustion by Amerindians. The Omaha of Nebraska and western Iowa used the stems of lead plant “as a moxa (a kind of dry poultice, soft and woolly in texture) in the treatment of neuralgia and rheumatism. The small stems of the plant were broken and attached to the painful area by moistening one end of the stem with saliva. They were then ignited and allowed to burn down to the skin.”

Meanwhile, the Pawnee Nation of Nebraska and Kansas used “An unidentified prairie aster [as] the best material for moxa. The stems were reduced to charcoal which, in pieces a few millimeters in length, was set on the skin over the affected part and fired.”

Also interesting to note that the native artemisia, white sage (A. gnaphalodes), was similarly used in the tradition of preventing and treating diseases by warding off evil influences, a role that A. vulgaris played in ancient China as well. “The immaterial essence or, to use the Dakota word, the To, of artemisia was believed to be effectual as a protection against maleficent powers.” Various species of mugwort were likewise used as incense to exorcise evil forces, as well as decocted and used internally for stomach ailments, rheumatism, and irregular menstruation.

Referenced from Uses of Plants by the Indians of the Missouri River Region by Melvin Gilmore.

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