Traditional Medicine

Stones and sand

Heated stones and sand, wrapped in cloth, are often used as a “hot-water bottle.” But the stones must be selected carefully. The must be clean and found on the ground, (not stuck in it). Some people prefer a flat, smooth dark “honing stone,” and some feel that the best rocks are red ones from lakes or the sea. There are “strong” stones and “weak” stones, but the difference is not obvious and they must be tested to find out which ones are good for medical use. These stones are carefully stored, but thrown away when people move from place to place.

One Elder told the following story on the topic of stones: “I remember a person picking up a stone from the seashore for my mother’s treatment. I was frightened because I thought she was going to make my mother eat it! But they warmed it in a bucket….” Sand was collected on the ocean beach at low tide, or dug from a deep hole on the tundra. The best sand is light coloured and free of dust.

”Hot water bottles” made of sand or stones ease the pain from stomach cramps, skin infections, bladder problems, and even a delayed menstrual period. Cold stones are placed on the nape of the neck and all around the body of someone with a serious nosebleed. A small “honing stone” can be used to remove the white film that results from snow blindness. Salt is sometimes substituted for sand.