Common Ragweed, Ambrosia artemisiifolia, is a plant scorned by allergy suffers everywhere. But did you know it was historically used by both western culture and American Indians as a healing plant? The Cherokee used it for insect stings, pneumonia, fever, hives, and infected toes. The Dakota used Ragweed to stop vomiting and for diarrhea. And, the Iroquois used it for cramps, stroke and diarrhea. Western herbalists used it as a stimulant, astringent, hemostatic, and antiseptic. There are historic accounts of the Lakota using Common Ragweed as toilet paper, a sentiment that many would agree with, but I would advise you to think twice before doing this if you are prone to allergic reactions.
Besides causing you to itch and giving you a bad case of the sneezes Ragweed can effect your food. If cows consume it, their milk will retain a bitter taste and if it is harvested with wheat it will cause the flour to become bitter and unsuitable for bread making.
Keep your eyes and ears open and your powder dry!
Common Ragweed Sources:
Audubon Guides Box Set – Birds, Tree, Wildflowers & Mammals. Computer Software.Green Mountain Digital. Version: 2.3. Web. Jul 10, 2014.
Felter, Harvey Wickes, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D. King’s American Dispensatory, Vol. 1. Cincinnati: The Ohio Valley Company, 1905. pg. 168
Foster, Steven and James A. Duke. The Peterson Field Guide Series; A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America. 2nd. ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000. Print. pg. 246-247
Hamel, Paul B. and Mary U. Chiltoskey. Cherokee Plants and Their Uses- A 400 Year History. North Carolina: Herald Publishing. 1975. Print. pg. 52
Herrick, James William. Iroquois Medical Botany. Ph.D. Thesis, New York: State University of New York, Albany 1977. Print. pg. 227-228
Moerman Daniel E., Native American Ethnobotany, Portland: Timber Press. 1998. Print. pg. 66
Newcomb, Lawrence. Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1977. Print. pg. 438-439
United States Department of Agriculture. Natural Resources Conservation Services. Web.