The Athabaskans use it as a beverage and also as medicine for weak blood, colds, tuberculosis, dizziness, stomach problems, heartburn, kidney problems and hangover. Some people chew the raw leaves because they like the taste. Others use Labrador tea to spice meat by boiling the leaves and branches in water and then soak the meat in the tea. The meat may also be boiled directly in the water with the stems and leaves. This spice is said to be especially good for strong-tasting meat, such as brown bear meat that has a fishy taste. It should be noted, however, that Labrador tea does contain ledol, a poisonous substance that can cause cramps and paralysis.
Ledum palustre grows in peaty soils, shrubby areas, moss and lichen tundra. Ledum groenlandicum grows in bogs and wet shores, and sometimes on rocky alpine slopes. Both species are generally northern (north temperate to tundra) in distribution, with the range of L. groenlandicum somewhat farther south.
Both Ledum palustre and Ledum groenlandicum grow slowly, so pick individual leaves rather than whole branches, and harvest from different shrubs. In addition, Labrador tea grows in abundance in large patches so it should not be difficult to move from plant to plant to avoid over-harvesting. Labrador tea is an evergreen plant and will be available all year long.