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Sweet Grass
Female Plants: Mother Natureís Gatorade

A "female plant" in Native American nomenclature is a plant that lies on the ground and takes its energy from Mother Earth. These plants are cooling plants. Typically used to cool the body, replace electrolytes and hydrate cells. My Curandera friend Estella from Cuernavaca, Mexico uses these plants to protect the children in the village. On hot days after a long afternoon of chasing Geckos and Gila monsters the kids are red faced, dehydrated, exhausted. They need water, electrolytes, including sodium, potassium and calcium and a dose of glucose. To remedy the emergency Estella splits open a melon and slices a big piece for each roughneck on the bench. Then the miracle of the "female plant" does her work. The children are cooled, their life protecting salts are replenished, ample glucose is assimilated to nourish the brain and body. The watery fruit thins the blood and improves circulation of nutrients and elimination of waste. All is calm. Mats are rolled on the ground and the next generation bed downs on the cool mantle of our marvelous planet. A night full of dragons and dinosaurs dance through their heads.

Female Plants

Other female plants include: honeydew melons, water melons, musk melons, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins and the like. Eat these plants in hot weather to prevent heat exhaustion and stroke.


Another "female plant" is the aromatic sweet grass (Hierochloe odorata (L.)). Sweet grass is used in the smudging and sweeping rituals of First People. The grass is collected, braided and dried. When a medicine person is called to the home to treat an illness she will sweep the sick person first with a "warrior plant", like sage. Sweeping is a motion over the ill personís body in the sign of the four directions, which looks like the sign of the cross. The "warrior plant" sage (Artemisia or Salvia species), has a strong fragrance that arouses and expels the evil spirits. With the bad spirits rejected, healing may proceed. Now the "female plant" sweet grass is swept over the body of the diseased person. The sweet odor invites the good spirits to enter the body and join in the effort to heal.


Smudging may be used in lieu of or in conjunction with sweeping. Smudging is the burning of first a "warrior plant" then a "female plant" to assist the spiritual healing ritual. It may be used in the room like an incense, or the smoke may be swept over the participant in the sign of the four directions. This healing and cleansing ritual reminds me of the incense burning ritual used in some Christian faiths. We Westerners seem to have lost the significance of what we do.

Sweat Lodge

Sweet grass, rue, sage and other plants like the "warrior plant" cedar (Thuja species) are used in the sweat lodge ceremony. Sweat lodge is the pouring of water over hot stones in a structure that contains the steam. Warrior plants and female plants are used in that order over the hot stones to purify and bless the participants in the sweat lodge. My daughter just returned from Cuernavaca and took part in a sweat lodge purification. The intense heat caused her to perspire profusely, the sweat moving toxins from her body through the skin. The purification can make you ill, queasy. Western science now advocates saunas, hot soaks and sweat lodge as a process to chelate poisons from the body. Intuitively, indigenous people have known this for centuries.

I apologize for this terse treatment of what are great spiritual traditions of Native Americans. We have video programs that go into more detail on sweeping, smudging, sweat lodge, Indios massage, Native American dance, as well as First People nutrition including plant medicine and first-aid. Whatís best that our on camera hosts are Native Americans, far better qualified than me to explain these wondrous spiritual events. Visit our web site for details.

If you would like some sweet grass for your garden go to I have a limited supply but will honor as many orders as my supply permits.

To learn more about Native American Medicine and see it performed go to our video:  Native American Medicine.

Also see: DiarrheaCancer .