It is always mind boggling to me that Native Americans lived all over North America in primitive conditions, for thousands of years before European settlers arrived. They somehow survived the brutal winters of Canada and the northern states with nothing but the clothing and food they could get from the land. They had to be extremely efficient with every animal they killed so that they could use some parts for clothing, and others to eat. Their use of the Buffalo perfectly illustrates this since most tribes were nomadic and moved with the massive herds all over the western part of the continent.
Living in these harsh conditions forced them to be very much aware of their surrounding and as a result they became quite spiritual. They saw themselves as a part of nature and respected all living things immensely. It was through this spiritual awareness that they were able to create many remedies and cures for their illnesses and injuries. Starting thousands of years ago, they must have started experimenting with all types of foods and plants to see which ones helped with certain ailments. Over the course of many generations they gained knowledge about certain roots, bark, leaves, or animal parts, and passed those remedies on verbally since they had no written language. Most of the native nations had a medicine man or woman that would administer their natural treatment to the sick or wounded and they would be responsible for transferring the knowledge to their successors.
How successful were these remedies? It is hard to say, but you have to believe that some of them worked and sometimes all you need is faith that it is going to work and it does. If you are lying there terribly wounded or sick, it would make you feel a whole lot better if someone were to give you some sort of treatment so that you at least have some hope instead of just waiting to die. There may have been a placebo effect at work here just like when they do studies today with two groups of people where one group gets the medication, and the other gets a pill with no medication. A lot of times the people that get no medication report feeling better. Regardless, there are many natural remedies in use today that are similar to treatments used by native Americans hundreds and thousands of years ago. Most medical doctors probably don’t give those remedies much credit, but many naturopaths and millions of people do.