Healers from the past


“ Primum non nocere”

First do no harm!



We get a lot of visitors here in our state from all over the world and they love hitting our trails. Whose to blame them, there are some really unusual looking things out there in the desert to see. There are also hundreds of plants in that plain and dry looking desert. Plants that are edible and used for medicine to this day.

Back many many years ago the indigenous people and Spanish settlers used a lot of these native desert plants for their medicines too. This was way before the hypocritical oath, way before the the word profit and cost effective would be added to creating these things…this was all they had to treat the people they cared for. They actually cared for them too. It would be nice if I could say the same now days. Don’t get me wrong, there are so many good healers out there today, but they are being bullied and pushed into other agendas…and this is why so many people are fearful of the healers in this 21st century. Sometimes we get the bad ones.


Anyway, thought I share with you all some plants the healers from the past used.There are more then 400 edible plants and medicines in the Sonoran desert.

My son looking way off in the distance while hiking the side of a canyon and cliff ledge. Think he was looking at his sister way ahead of him wondering where the heck she was going because they were pretty high up. See that tiny orange tree in the middle of the photo? That is where we all were headed to get to a bridge down below to cross the river bed to the other side. Every time we go out I remind my son about the plants and how they treat people all over the world. He just received a scholarship to a university here in our state to study Bio Chemistry. So proud of him, makes me very happy that he will be learning about plants and their healing properties. I always remind my children that it is in the foods we eat where we should get our vitamins. It is not necessary to poison our foods….or is it?, such sinister agendas, like it was planned. Like that Art of war quote by Sun Tzu “When strong avoid them, If of high moral depress them. Seem humble to fill them with conceit. If at ease exhaust them. If united separate them. Attack their weaknesses. Emerge to their surprise,”. You can make a whole generation of weak if you poison them mentally and physically. Of course none of this is necessary, but there are bad people who allow greed to control them.

These next 9 plants I am sharing with you all are some of those plants from long ago that to this day are still being used to feed and even treat different illnesses around the world. All the photos in my post are personal photos I took, or my husband took while on our hikes.

Honeybee on a Brittle Bush.

Warning:Do not eat or make your own herbal medicines until you speak to a professional, and always do your research. I am just sharing some information that I learned on my own but I am no expert.  Also, very important…never remove native plants from our national parks that are protected. Check the laws in your area before doing any foraging. If it is on your own private land then that is another story, it’s your garden. You can get into big trouble breaking laws here in our state if you remove so much as a little rock from our national parks. So please research about plants as much as possible. If visiting our state from another place there are lots of classes available at most of our desert museums to take and learn about Sonoran Desert plants and medicines.


We also have many nurseries here in our state where you can buy most of these plants for your own gardens if you like.


The forest, the trees, the beautiful plants and nature all around us all have a purpose, we all do, we are all here to help one another. God gives us these gifts everyday, to help us, to heal us, and to share that knowledge. These gifts were never meant to be taken and exploited for a profit.

  1. Creosote bush-


This is and always will be my favorite plant in the desert. I wish I could bottle this up and carry it with me through life. When I was a little girl as soon as a rain storm came in I would run out to play on that desert mountain we lived up against, sometimes I wouldn’t even wait to put on some shoes. The desert smells so wonderful after it rains and this is the plant that causes that.


In the Spring when the rains come this plant takes over with it’s wonderful fragrance. It’s an antioxidant.


The leaves were made into teas, salves and extracts. They are added to capsules for treatment of bacterial and viral infections, coughs, colds, bladder infections, arthritis, tuberculosis, and intestinal disorders. Externally it was used as an antiseptic dressing for cuts, bruises and sores.


  1. Prickly pear-


In Mexico they use the juice and pads to treat adult onset diabetes.


They use the juice to help relieve inflammation of the urinary tract.It also helps relieve burns just like Aloe Vera. The flowers are made into a tea to help treat asthma, colitis, and diverticulitis. Fruits are eaten fresh or dried.


Here in my state they still use the fruit from this cactus for syrups, preserves, and alcoholic beverages.I love eating prickly pear ice cream. The pads are removed when young and cooked and eaten. They are suppose to help lower blood sugar levels. We make tacos with ours, they are so yummy.


  1. Mesquite-


Such a beautiful tree. The leaves, twigs and pods from this tree were made into a tea. Then they used this as an astringent to wash cuts, rashes and burns. They also drank the teas to treat dysentery, diarrhea, to sooth sore throats, stomach inflammation, and peptic ulcers.The pods are used as food. I have some mesquite flour in my freezer right now that I want to use for a chocolate chip cookie, just haven’t found the time to do it yet.


Black tar sap from the tree was boiled and diluted with water then used as an antiseptic for sore lips, chapped and sunburned skin.


  1. Agave-

Out on hikes you will come across all these plants. It’s always fun to see how many you come across.

Leaves were dried or used fresh as a bitter tea to help relieve constipation, arthritis, indigestion, gas, and water retention. But prolonged internal use does interfere with the absorption of vitamins in the small intestines. The heart of the plant was a food source as well and the flower stalks were baked and eaten too. They also made soup with this plant by pounding and mashing the roots and stems in water.

This was a really important plant because it was not only used for food and medicine but they used the fibers from the leaves to make shoes, nets, baskets, threads, fishing nets and cordage. Agave is still used today for alcoholic beverages that are distilled into liquor.

  1. Desert Lavender (bee sage)-


This was made into a cold tea to help soothe nausea caused by hangover and stomach flu. As a hot tea it was used for congestion, colds, respiratory flues and difficulty breathing. Topically it was use to treat toothaches and earaches. Seeds were eaten.

There are several varieties of flowers in this field.


  1. Ocotilla


The Apaches used this plant for fatigued and swollen tired limbs.They also turned it into a powder to use as a dressing for wounds and swelling. The flowers and seed pods were eaten and a hibiscus like tea was made from the flowers.

Pretty sure this is a very young hummingbird, seems so chunky like an adorable chunky baby. It stuck around me for this hike, so sweet. Finally I stop to get a better look at him because he seemed so chubby for a hummingbird and then I smiled when I saw how clumsy he was. I took a photo and told my husband that I thought this little guy finally left the nest and was flying around as happy as could be. It’s always a special treat when the birds go on a hike with you. 

When this plant is in bloom the hummingbirds love the flowers. You can find any spot in the desert close to these plants and watch as all types of humming birds fly up to it, even chunky little baby ones using their new wings. Great photo opportunities when these are in bloom.

This is one of my favorite photos I took from a hike one morning. This little bird followed me most of the way that day, buzzing around my head, freaking me out sometimes with it’s loud noise, and then I stopped when I saw this beautiful flower. The little bird started dancing around it and I shot away, I have several photos of this hummingbird. In the Spring they get a little aggressive because they are guarding their nest I believe but they never hurt anyone.



  1. Brittle Bush-


These were everywhere around my Nana’s house and neighborhood. This was as close as I got to having wild daisies in our part of the world. I also grew up around acres and acres of beautiful tulips, and flowers that were called the Japanese gardens. I would ride my bike through row after row of so much color and beauty come Spring. The Japanese gardens are no longer there, now they’re apartments everywhere but the Brittle Bush is still around. The desert mountain I grew up around is protected. Think this is why my favorite doodle now and as a child were always flowers.

Brittle bush is a well know folk remedy for arthritis. It was also used to break fevers.It was either made into a drink or the bright yellow gum (dried sap) was chewed or rubbed on the chest. The gum held in the mouth was used to treat pain from tooth and gum problems. The flowers were dried and used in a tea to treat stomach pain. They also used the dried flowers externally to soothe skin inflammations like rashes and sunburns. Sometimes they even used the gum as an incense and burned it. Added to baths it helps relieve arthritis.




8.Mormon tea-


The leafless twigs are simmered and used as a substitute for coffee. It is suppose to have a pleasant taste to it and is mildly stimulating. It contains small amounts of ephedrine. You all know what they use ephedrine for…hay fever, allergies, asthma, and coughing. There are varieties of this plant that are being used now for the drug industry. I don’t usually see a lot of Mormon tea out in the desert where I hike but I have come across it now and then.


9.Chollo cacti-


The thorns from this cactus hurts, so be very careful when walking through a forest of chollo. I sometimes get caught up in the moment when photographing and in this case when I went to get some shots I got bitten by one of these guys. I was wearing jeans and the thorns went right through, but I got my shot.

They call this the teddy bear cactus but I wouldn’t go hugging one of these. Their spines seem to jump out at you and they go deep. After you pull them out it itches and burns for hours. So please be careful around this plant.The flower buds from this plant have very high  levels of calcium. It’s great for nursing mothers and anyone at risk for Osteoporosis. Just two tablespoons are like drinking a whole glass of milk. They also have soluble fiber and pectin which helps regulate blood sugar levels. The buds have to be harvested before they flower though.

Remember, please speak to your doctor, plus research recipes, suppliers and how to prepare foods from cacti before you attempt using any of these. If you are ever around the Sonoran desert for a drive or a nice hike look around and see if you come across some of these plants yourself. Remember the parks are protected so you can not remove them. Happy hiking adventures everyone.


Please, what ever area you live in, look around you, there are plants put in place to take care of us. Find and research plants as much as possible and share that with as many as possible.

But test everything; hold fast what is good.

1 Thessalonians 5:21












32 Comments Add yours

  1. You definitely had a great time with your hiking trip and thank you very much for sharing your knowledge with us!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you and also you’re very welcome too. Have a fun weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely love the pictures and descriptions. Keep up the great content! Greetings from London.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, so nice to get a visit all the way from London, have a beautiful weekend and stay safe out there.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jane Fritz says:

    An especially lovely post. Thank you, LRH.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome Jane and thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, God gives us everything we need, doesn’t He 🙂 Its a shame that we don’t use HIs gifts any more and rely on man to help us, which isn’t working out as well for us 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Again, your words speak so much truth, thank you Margaret.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you. You gave dozens of examples above of this truth. 🙂 I say “dozens” because that is what it adds up to when you see ALL the different benefits growing in only one plant 🙂 Reading the list you compiled above each one of these plants growing wildly for free, helps your body with several health, healing, pain management, maintenance, etc. issues 🙂 what a miracle 🙂 AND they grow, in the wild, with no help from man? That sounds like a miracle too hehe 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. So many miracles, always there for us all to see too.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. What a cool post and the photos were gorgeous! I didn’t know all that about those flowers/plants but now I do. Very cool. I learn something new almost every time from your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, yesterday some of our cacti started blooming. I can’t wait to share those photos with everyone as soon as I write up my garden updates post. I have a week before that happens though, we are planing a trip up north so I have things to do to get ready for that. In that town there are 600 people as well. It is a small town but a nice place to visit away from the city, just takes three hours to get there. They opened up our state too. It is weird seeing crowds of people lining up to eat at restaurants.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Enjoy your trip up north! I always enjoy your posts about your visits there.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. You are being nominated for the Vincent Ehindero Blogger Award tonight. I will share link when published.


  7. Genesis Ron says:

    Good to know that works too! It was perfect the first time. I learn so much from you as well! Wow great post.


  8. You live in such a beautiful place, the cacti are amazing. That tiny tiny bird made me laugh because a. It’s unbelievably small, I thought that can’t possibly be a bird!, And, b. It looks so utterly cute. Hummingbirds are either rare here in the UK or we don’t have them. I believe we have just the kingfisher equivalent. Nature’s amazing at providing us such an array of medicines, also beauty, and for various materials including dyes. Really loved this post, thank you xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad you liked it and yes that bird is super tiny. The babies are chunky little things, so adorable and their nest are the smallest things I have ever seen. Nature is the best show to watch. I am working on several adult coloring pages of all the photos and nature I see out here. It is a fun project after a long day of working to de-stress and afterwards we all can color which is very calming.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Your adult colouring pages sound like a fun and involved project. 🌵 🌼

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I have a bunch designed and they are very calming to doodle. I wish everyone had something to do to calm them when there is a lot of stress out there. Reading, talking a walk out in nature or even having a fuzzy pet is great to have when under stress and everyone in the world right now is stressed out that’s for sure.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes, doing certain things helps to reduce stress. I missed the news one day and later that night actually felt better, more calm, than otherwise. Do you sell your colouring pages Cheri? ( I hope I’ve your name right). 🙂 🐻

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yes, that is right. No, don’t sell anything but that isn’t the first time someone has asked. With the little felt animals I make and crafts I have had others ask if I sell them. I am still trying to get that going but it is a whole process of keeping things safe. I need to get a post office box and international I have discovered is crazy expensive. They are simple little drawings that are more about coloring and de-stressing after a hectic day.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I see. I think it you wanted to you could sell the pdf downloads of your drawings. Setting these things up is getting easier all the time. I’ve wanted to buy artwork from artists in America but it’s much too expensive (for me) to ship to England :\

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I wish it wasn’t that way. We have family members in Italy that we were going to ship a really small package to that included some of my husband’s chili salsa and some craft projects for the kids but the total was $80 to send there. The cost to ship within the US was under $10 but over seas it is so expensive. If I do finally get around to getting some coloring pages online to sell I will also include a monthly free page to anyone who can not afford to spend a lot of cash. When I taught art classes for a city program years ago I always had spots open for the children who could not afford to pay for the classes. I know what it is like to be poor, the reason why I am so frugal in my life now.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. What a shame about the high postage, the personal things you wanted to send to family in italy. I made a big soft toy pink dinosaur, 11 years ago, and sent it to John’s little niece in Canada. I remember the shipping costs being reasonable. How lovely having taught art to children 💚


      8. My daughter is going to try to do a free PDF to print of the rock house I just drew up the other night, so everyone who wants can print it up and color. More then likely it will be in my monthly updates at the end of this month. My daughter did this once with one of my tiny Teddy patterns I drew up. Maybe eventually I can do a coloring book of Arizona nature and Our Little Red House adventures, make it an Amazon thing.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. That sounds nice what your daughter wants to do 🙂
        Producing and selling ebooks on Amazon is not too hard to do. I love your idea 😀 xo

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Thank you, it is just a fun hobby for now that I share with others.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. You live in such a beautiful place xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you although right now everything is so hot parts of the state are closed. Just got home from up north and the road leading to the town where Our Little Red House is was closed. There was a sheriff guarding it. It is surrounded by the largest Ponderosa pine forest in the world. Anyway we explained to the Sheriff we had to get to our cabin and then he told us the rules were that we had to keep driving through the forest without stopping. No walking, hiking or stopping the vehicle because the whole area was closed to camping and visiting. Once we got to Our Little Red House we stayed there because we were not allowed to go to the creek, swimming holes, or forage like I do for art supplies like pine needles, twigs and dried flowers. We could have walked down to Cherry creek which is right behind us but there is a mountain lion roaming that area right now and also the town. Poor cat is probably starving from the lack of water. It hasn’t rained in over 100 days in the majority of Arizona. Cherry creek is a beautiful area to explore and the last time we were there we came across a pool of water and there were lion tracks that were pretty fresh. No one was around way out there where I was photography. Beautiful to shoot but always stay alert.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Herbal treatment is the best treatment for sure

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true. Wish I knew more. There are so many plants out there to help us with living.


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