A Native Cure for Scurvy (or just because you’d like some tea)
As survivors, we take pride in our ability to live where others might fail. Sometimes one small detail can make the difference between life and death.
To fully utilize the bountiful resources nature provides requires knowledge and experience. And in any survival environment the best place to get that is from the people who call it home. The following is a case study.
In late 1535, the French explorer Jacques Cartier and his men became ice-bound near present day Quebec, Canada while attempting to sail downriver to the Atlantic Ocean. They built a fort and were forced to hunker down for the long northern winter.
Short on supplies, by December, scurvy took a heavy toll and over 50 men died. All of those who managed to hold on to life were so weak as to be of little use in fending off the angry Iroquois Indians who surrounded them. And winter had only just started.
Indian Cure for Scurvy
In desperation Cartier sought out the son of an Iroquois Chief, Dom Agaya, and asked him how it was that the Indians stayed healthy while all his own men were falling to scurvy.
Fortunately for Cartier, Dom Agaya shared the secret.
The means of survival for Cartier’s men was close at hand the entire time. Dom Agaya simply pulled a few needles from the closest white cedar tree (some say a pine) and boiled them into tea. When Cartier and his men drank this pine tea they almost immediately felt better. Within eight days the entire tree had been stripped bare and all the men were cured of scurvy.
You see, Pine needles contain five times the amount of vitamin C, as lemons, for the cure of scurvy.
How to make Pine Tea, the Native American Cure for Scurvy
• Grab a handful of pine needles, about 1/4 cup is all you need.
• Place in boiling water for ten to fifteen minutes.
• Add lemon and honey if available.
You now have 100% of the US RDA requirement for vitamin C.
Drink up and enjoy your woodsy brew, it tastes and smells like the pine forest from which it came.
So there you have it – as long as there is an evergreen tree handy, the knowledgeable survivor will never suffer from scurvy. And what became of the Indians who helped Jacques Cartier and his men survive that terrible winter of 1535 – 1536? Cartier kidnapped Dom Agaya, his father the Chief, and several others and brought them to France where they died. The photos above show how to make Pine Needle tea; 1, 2, 3.