Thanksgiving: Things you didn’t know that were found by the Native Americans

Everyone loves a good origin story. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here are some things that were invented or discovered by the Native Americans!

Corn

10,000 years ago, Native Americans discovered the secret of growing and harvesting corn. European colonists were taught this secret, turning corn into a staple crop around the world. Today, corn is a crucial part of our Thanksgiving feast to remind us of our heritage.

Furthermore, according to Mayo Clinic, this crop has many health benefits. It is rich in fiber which helps with digestion, has vitamin B and minerals like magnesium, copper and manganese crucial for our body. Furthermore, the carotenoid in corn acts as an antioxidant, is good for our eyes, and is what gives corn its bright yellow color. 

Chinampa

If you are an agriculture enthusiast, you would probably know about the origin of the chinampa fields. Chinampa is a method of farming that is still used today in Mexico, crops like maize, beans, chilies, squash and tomatoes e.t.c grows on these small islands of farm.

According to Amanda Pell, a writer for Upworthy, she argues that chinampas should be the answer to sustainable farming. The method of chinampa feeds people, and at the same time, creates biodiversity. It filters and manages water levels, reduces the amount of greenhouse gases being released to the atmosphere, and has a waste system. This technique has also contributed to the method of the now globally common agriculture style, raised-bed farming.

Anesthetics and Pain Relievers

Native Americans used the plant Datura stramonium (jimson weed) to heal external injuries like cuts and bruises. They would do this by grinding the root of the plant, turning it into a plaster. The plant would also be ingested to act as an anesthetic during the procedure of setting broken bones.

They also used the bark of another plant, Salix nigra (American black willow), to make tea with anti pain and inflammation properties. This plant contains salicin, the chemical that makes the famous salicylic acid, a popular chemical compound found in most skincare products in the cosmetic industry.

Hot peppers were also used as a pain reliever. They contain capsaicin. According to Versus Arthritis, it reduces substance P, a pain transmitter found in the nerves. 

These discoveries are very important as anesthetics and pain relievers play major roles in the medical world, whether they be used for surgery, healing a wound, or helping with a patient’s pain. Without them, they might not be as advanced or as common as today. 

Birth control

In the 1700s, Native Americans ingested Lithospermum ruderale (Columbia Puccoon) to prevent pregnancy. Today there is a big market for birth control pills to not only decrease the chance of unwanted pregnancy, but to also help with painful menstruation, hormonal acne and PMS.

To read more, check out our article on birth control pills.

Petroleum

Petroleum is an important fossil fuel found beneath land and ocean floors. It produces electricity, power transportation and makes petroleum jelly (or vaseline). 

Native Americans first sunk pits as deep as 15 to 20 feet in the oil creek to extract petroleum. These pits would also have wooden walls. A french general in 1750 recorded that the Native Americans would have ceremonies where they would light the oil on fire, and would lather their skin with petroleum jelly.


References:

“10 Native American Inventions – HISTORY.” 14 Nov. 2019, https://www.history.com/news/native-american-inventions. Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

“10 Native Inventions and Innovations That Changed the World.” 29 Jun. 2014, https://indiancountrytoday.com/archive/10-native-inventions-and-innovations-that-changed-the-world-M0ZwDx1Ku0mQvn4Jn0KP4Q. Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

“Symbols and Icons of Thanksgiving – Movers.com.” 12 Nov. 2009, https://www.movers.com/guides/symbols-and-icons-of-thanksgiving.html. Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

“Chinampas: What they are, how they work, and … – Upworthy.” https://www.upworthy.com/chinampas. Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

“Ancient Aztec farming technique has many benefits ….” 19 Nov. 2019, https://www.freshfruitportal.com/news/2019/11/19/ancient-aztec-farming-technique-could-aid-urban-farming-study-finds/. Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

“Capsaicin | Uses, side-effects | Versus Arthritis.” https://www.versusarthritis.org/about-arthritis/complementary-and-alternative-treatments/types-of-complementary-treatments/capsaicin/. Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

Birth Control Pills are harmful

Like periods, sex, and other intimate topics, birth control used to be a taboo. However, in this modern day and age, birth control pills (BCP) are taken by numerous women around the world for a plethora of reasons. Taken orally, the primary function of birth control pills are to manipulate the hormone levels in women such that the chance of conceiving a child is lowered. Comprised of the hormones estrogen and/ or only progestin, it’s hormone regulating properties is used to regulate menstruation, relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), clear up hormonal acne and more.

Birth control pills are a popular form of contraception, however, there are dark sides to this pill. According to a news report by The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in 2013, the pill was suspected to have killed 23 women, including a girl as young as 14 years of age. Lawyers, doctors and pharmacists has found a correlation between the deaths and the use of popular BCP brands such as Yaz and Yasmin which are manufactured by Bayer AC. Multiple lawsuits led the German multinational pharmaceutical company to pay up a staggering $1 billion to settle lawsuits in the US alone.

Reactons from taking the Birth Control Pill

 Here is a summary report conducted by Health Canada observing the pill taker’s reactions.

The general reaction includes:

  • Cardiac disorders
  • Vascular disorders
  • Respiratory, thoracic & mediastinal disorders
  • Gastrointestinal disorder

Yaz pills:

  • Hepatobiliary disorders 

Yasmin pills:

  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Nervous system disorders
  • Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders
  • Injury, poisoning and procedural complications 
  • Infections and infestations

So what makes these brands more dangerous than their competitors? Synthetic drospirenone, which shows a higher risk of blood clots, the suspected main cause of the deaths. 

However, there is no substantial evidence tying drospirenone and blood clotting in birth control pills. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), an issued statement only said pills with drospirenone “may” be associated to the risks as there were mixed results. Positive results to the statement shows that the risk of blood clots is as high as three times than pills not containing drospirenone. While negative results show no additional risk at all.  

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), a healthy 27 year old woman suddenly fell into a stroke which was suspected to be caused by the intake of BCP for several months. As a results, she was diagnosed with a cryptogenic stroke and an end of her BCP routine. 

Birth control pills cause migrane?

There is no substantial proof that confirms BCPs as the culprit. However, it is the most likely cause as the woman had no history of health problems or migraines, and the only major change in her lifestyle was the consumption of BCPs. According to Loyola University Health System, the speculation of BCPs increasing the risk of strokes in women started in 1962. Pills with higher dosage of synthetic estrogen was scrutinized.

Today, this particular BCP formula is no longer in use. However, strokes can still occur if there are already additional potential stroke risk such as smoking, hypertension and migraines.

These side effects can be annoying and lead women to opt to get off the pill. Nikki Gonda, the founder of My Moonbox shared her personal experience online.

“For me, I said goodbye to the cramps & heavy irregular periods, but I also said hello to 6 years of anxiety, depression, UTIs, thrush & thinking I was crazy. And if that wasn’t enough, when I finally came off the pill, not only did my symptoms resurface but I also was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, leaky gut, & my period didn’t return for over a year later”

– Nikki Gonda

Despite the risks, you should not be afraid of BCPs. The purpose of this article is not to instill fear in taking BCPs, but rather inform the public on its potential side effects as the media often portrays BCPs as a wonder pill that regulates hormones while downplaying its side effects.

Choose your birth control pills carefully!

According to Dr Zoe Williams and Dr Carol Cooper who appeared on This Morning, they mentioned that the pill is extensively researched on and is considered safe, while there are negative complications, they are extremely rare, the pill would be put for good use safely if the women take the right pill for themselves. The varying thing in BCPs are its concentrations of hormones and different women respond differently to different hormone concentrations. Hence, it is crucial to try out which BCP works for you instead of just reading reviews online.

Making any type of birth control decision is very personal and important, therefore one must be informed beforehand. If you are looking into getting birth control of any method, do a lot of research and consult professionals especially if you have concerns or questions. 


References:

 “Yaz, Yasmin birth control pills suspected in 23 deaths – CBC.ca.” 11 Jun. 2013, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/yaz-yasmin-birth-control-pills-suspected-in-23-deaths-1.1302473. Accessed 25 Nov. 2020.

 “FDA Drug Safety Communication: Updated information about ….” 10 Apr. 2012, https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-drug-safety-communication-updated-information-about-risk-blood-clots-women-taking-birth-control. Accessed 25 Nov. 2020.

 “Oral Contraceptives and Ischemic Stroke Risk | Stroke.” https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/STROKEAHA.117.020084. Accessed 25 Nov. 2020.

“Birth control pills increase risk of ischemic stroke: But risk is ….” 5 Mar. 2018, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180305092949.htm. Accessed 25 Nov. 2020.

 “Is the Contraceptive Pill Safe? – Part 1 | This Morning – YouTube.” 27 Jul. 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMImQWHlFBI. Accessed 25 Nov. 2020.