Facts: Women’s Medicines
Native women of the California Coast found natural remedies for many common ailments. From Horsetail (a reed), they brewed a tea used to treat delayed or difficult menstruation, or for bladder ailments, and to prevent pregnancy. Menstrual cramps were alleviated by drinking a tea made from Yerba Mansa (Lizard Tail) roots. This same tea was used by both men and women as a general pain reliever. The leaves of Toyon (California Holly) shrubs were steeped to make a tea drunk by young women as a blood cleanser to clear their complexion and promote regular menses. Following childbirth, women drank a tea made of Groundsel to prevent “lockjaw.” Pregnant or lactating women avoided California Poppy, as the smell was believed to be poisonous.
FICTION from Seek a Safe Harbor
She checked her supplies. The backboard held soft rabbit skin to swaddle the baby for the first months of her life. The sacred medicine bundle lay in a deerskin pouch beside Red Sky’s bed. It contained herbal remedies and a bear claw. When rubbed on her belly and legs, the claw would give her great strength to push out the baby.
She busied herself brewing two teas she must have. In one gourd bowl she placed crushed fern leaves to help her expel the afterbirth. In the other she crushed the leaves of a bitter weed that would prevent lockjaw, a dreaded aftermath of birthing mothers.
Red Sky stood and straightened her spine. She brought still more driftwood to the pile inside the doorway. The basket of dried silver fish lay near her bed. Four hollowed out stones would act as lamps when she ignited the oily fish.
All was in readiness. She rolled the rock in place to cover the entrance to her hut. Smoke drifted lazily out through the hole in the roof. Her hut was her stronghold. She had done all she could to prepare for the ordeal that lay ahead.