Traditional Medicine


There are only three Inuit communities in northern Quebec that lie below the treeline, but because people move around so much, knowledge about trees is fairly widespread. The most useful part of a tree is the white inner layer of bark. Peeled from the larch tree (pingi), this inner layer is boiled (for a day) and powdered to use on a boil, boiled into a general medicinal tea, or simply chewed like gum for a cold. From pine trees, people use either the inner layer from near the tree’s base or from a branch; it is said that older branches are darker and contain more oil. The best inner bark comes from the tip of an older branch, and is used on cuts, boils and infections.

Pine tree gum is chewed to soften it and is then placed on cuts or burns to heal and help soothe pain. Toothache can be soothed by biting on a pinecone; this also helps to suck out any dirt or abcess causing the pain. Chewing on a pinecone fights mouth infections, and the cones can also be used to make a tea to treat skin infections or for general cleaning. Young pinecones are best.