Medicinal Plants, Pacific Northwest
Wild bears will eat the juicy blueberry when they are in season. It has been documented that they will travel, with an empty stomach, great distances, just to find a succulent blueberry patch. They grow all over the BC coastal region. Cousins of these blueberries also live in Asia, Europe and South America.
First Nation People held them in very high esteem, due to the fact that the blossom end of each blueberry forms a five points star. It was believed the “Great Spirit” sent these star berries to relieve the hunger of children during a famine.
They also used them for medicinal purposes and made a strong aromatic tea from the root. It was used as a relaxant during childbirth. Early medical books show this same tea was used by wives of settlers during labor. The juice was used for “old coughs” and tea made from the leaves was believed to be a good tonic to help purify the blood.
Native Americans encouraged its growth by periodically burning the fields, which would quickly grow again with new plants. The first European settlers found them to be similar to types of berries that grew in their homeland.
They have received much attention in recent years due to their health attributes. The fruit is rich in antioxidant compounds that fight free radicals that are associated with cancer, heart disease and premature aging.