Analysis of Environmental Contaminants in Muskrat Root, Acorus americanus Raf.: A Traditional Indigenous Medicinal Plant

  • Michelle A. GrayEmail author
  • Eva M. Walker
  • Cecelia Brooks
  • Luke deMarsh


The diets of Indigenous people rely on food and medicinal plants harvested directly from the land and there is increasing concern from Indigenous knowledge holders over changes to the appearance and flavor of wild harvested food and medicinal plants. We collected samples of muskrat root, considered an important medicinal plant, at 11 traditional collection locations to quantify contaminants of concern. There were no spatial or temporal trends apparent and the risk via consumption was found to be very low. This study provides a “base” measure to which future samples may be compared, especially as development and other anthropogenic pressures increase. This study is also an example of how western science and Indigenous knowledge, can be merged for the benefit of both knowledge systems in what is known to Indigenous groups as etuaptmumk or ‘two-eyed seeing’.


Acorus americanus Keweswosk (Mi’kmaq) Kiwohosuwasq (Wolastoq) Calamus root (English) Muskrat root Traditional medicine 



This project was funded by the Canadian First Nations Environmental Contaminants Program. We would like to thank David Bardwell and Anthony Bardwell for assisting with the collection of samples.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle A. Gray
    • 1
    Email author
  • Eva M. Walker
    • 1
  • Cecelia Brooks
    • 2
  • Luke deMarsh
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management and the Canadian Rivers InstituteUniversity of New BrunswickFrederictonCanada
  2. 2.Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Incorporated (MTI)MiramichiCanada

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