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Taxus Historical Uses
Pacific Yew (Taxus), its natural habitat of matured tree is located in the moist forest in the northwest region of North America. Before the Taxol usage for anticancer agent, Native American uses different parts of Pacific Yew in their daily life for various purposes. Here lists some:
The Ethnobotany of Washington State Department of Transportation indicates Pacific Yew as follows.
"The needles are chewed and put into wounds to promote healing. Peeled bark is made into a tea for the lungs and for internal pains."
In the Gymnosperm Database, it indicated Pacific Yew as
"Yew also had many medicinal uses, many of a magical nature, using the tree to impart strength. Smooth sticks of yew are used by a Swinomish youth to rub himself to gain strength. The Swinomish use boughs to rub themselves when bathing. the Chehalis crush the leaves and soak them in water which is used to bathe a baby or an old person. It is supposed to make them perspire and improve their condition. While the Chehalis never drink the water, the Klallam prepare leaves of yew, grid them up, and apply the pulp to wounds. The Quinault chew the leaves and spit them in wounds. the stings, but is supposed to be very healing. They are the only tribe making medicine. The Makah and Nootka also used the needles to brew an astringent bath. Yew was smoked, alone or with other plants, by the Klallam, Samish, Swinomish and Snohomish."
In the "Plants and The People - The Ethnobotany of the Karuk Tribe", it indicated Pacific Yew as
"The people scraped the bark off the western Yew twigs and branches and made a tea by boiling it in water. Taken to relieve a stomachache, the decoction was also used for kidney problem. No formula or song was needed for its ingestion."
In the USDA Forest Service Northeastern Area, it studied Pacific Yew as
"The several species of yew in both the western and eastern hemispheres are thought to have poisonous seeds and foliage, Incidents of livestock poisoning by yew have been reported in Europe and North America. Conversely, in both Europe and North America, domestic and wild animals are known to browse yew foliage without ill effects. If and under what conditions yew foliage is poisonous are not known. Pacific yew is browsed by moose in the South Fork of the Clearwater River basin in Idaho, where the tree is considered critical to the animals' survival. Pacific yew is also browsed heavily by elk and occasionally by deer in Oregon and Washington."
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