Elders would even make remarks like: “Oh, that tea is what we would get when we cannot afford red rose, because it tastes really good”
Lets start with the utility uses.
Remember, in our traditional wisdom we teach that every plant is showing you what its good for; “the forest is our greatest teacher.” “Everything we need is outside.” All you have to do is learn how to watch the earth and you will learn everything you need to know about life. Which plants are medicine, what it is medicine for, when to pick it, how to pick it, if it has a utility use, if you can eat it, etc.
With labrador tea, one of our teachers is Naanokshkaahns, the hummingbird. Not too long ago their population was declining rapidly. An unusual 50% mortality rate sparked some research, what made it unusual was of the 50% that died, both babies died in the nest. There was no “only the stronger of the two survived” The culprit of all these deaths and the rapid decline was a devastating mite. These mites would devour both the babies. Their next question was how and why were the other 50% were surviving, these hummingbirds must be making their nest with a deterrent.
Just like hummingbirds use labrador to keep small arthropods (mites) and perhaps large arthropods (spiders) away, we can use labrador tea to keep all small (or maybe large) arthropods away. These include mites, ticks, dust mites, etc.
What else can it 'keep away'
The older name for labrador tea is Mshkiigabag. Which literally means swamp/bog leaf. Swamp/bog is 'Mshkiig-aki', leaf is 'bag' (pronounced 'buck'), Mshkiigabag is the swamp/bog leaf. This leaf smells fantastic, citrusy, evergreeny, fruity goodness. Its a wonder how such a delicious smelling leaf can come out of such stinky places.
The colloquial name for this plant in inuit is Kayaksi. Which means little kayak leaf (please correct me if I am wrong, this is by memory, all I remember is it means kayak-leaf.. which is super cool). When the leaves of labrador tea are dried up the edges curl and it looks just like a little kayak. This is by-far, the cutest name for a plant I have ever heard.
One of the largest physiological gains from fasting is the stimulation of your immune system. Fasting cycles almost always coincide with changes of season. Changes of season always get us. In these parts the fasting occurs in the spring and fall. You normally fast just before the seasons change. This is not a coincidence either. These are in the calendar so you go into the change of seasons with an immune system that is fully stimulated and ready to quickly obliterate any invader. Labrador tea stimulates your immune system just as much as fasting does. If you want a psychotic immune system, an immune system that tears anything apart before you even actually feel sick, you need to slam some labrador tea.
Labrador tea at concentration levels that of a cup a mild tasting tea improves insulin sensitivity by reducing blood glucose levels by 13%, reduced the response to oral glucose tolerance test by 18.2% and reduced plasma insulin by 65%. Also induces a 42% reduction in hepatic triglyceride levels, Stimulates glucose metabolism (akt pathway) by 55% and increases GLUT4 (skeletal muscle glucose transporter) expression by 54%. All while improving renal function and lowering adipogenesis.