Slave medicine

Herbal lessons from American history


| July/August 1998


Richard Toler


Age 100 • Alabama

WHAT DOES MUSTARD have to do with pneumonia? Many people may not know. But the two of us can still remember the pungent smell of the mustard plasters our grandmother prepared and put on our father’s chest to cure him of pneumonia. We can also recall the foul smell of asafetida—a gum resin of a plant that is a member of the parsley family—that Mom made us wear around our necks to repel all illnesses and plagues, both known and unknown.

Our memories date to the mid-1950s in eastern Tennessee. Asafetida was one of many herbal remedies we were “treated” to during our childhood; weekly doses of nasty-tasting castor oil was another. Although we became patients of Western allopathic medicine as we grew older and one of us became a medical doctor, we didn’t abandon the home remedies passed on to us by previous generations of the family. We cherished the old remedies, learning more about them through individual inquiry and by taking courses. And, as our knowledge and use of herbal remedies increased, we became more and more curious about our slave ancestors’ use of natural cures.

Our research led us to the oral histories of former American slaves, in which they talk about the herbs they used to treat illnesses. Many are the same herbs our parents and grandparents introduced to us, remedies handed down to them from their ancestors who were, at one time, slaves.



Of great value to our search was Paul Escott’s Slavery Remembered, an analysis of the narratives collected by members of the Federal Writers Project, a program set up by the Works Progress Administration during the late 1930s to provide jobs to out-of-work writers. Among the former slaves’ memories are 316 accounts that “revealed prescriptions for a variety of tonics, teas, and root medicines,” Escott writes. Many of the cures were “used in an era of primitive medicine . . . [and] probably represented African lore transmitted and adapted to the southern United States.”

We’ve included direct quotations from some of the narratives in this article. Bruce Fort, a doctoral candidate at the University of Virginia who has established an online site for these narratives (www.wpahome.html), writes: “While the transcription of dialect can be offensive to modern readers, it is important to remember that these narratives were conducted sixty years ago in the Jim Crow South; just as these former slaves had survived into the twentieth century, so had the ideology of white supremacy that underpinned the slave society of the American South.”

Jonh
7/29/2016 3:08:15 AM

Quickbooks Support Number @ http://www.quickbooks.intuit-techsupport.com/ Quickbooks Support Phone Number @ http://www.quickbooks.support-phonenumber.com/ Quicken Support Phone Number @ http://www.quicken.support-phonenumber.com/ Quicken Support Number @ http://www.quicken.intuit-techsupport.com/ Sage Support Phone Number @ http://www.sage.support-phonenumber.com/


pr306013
11/23/2015 10:26:30 PM

If you are looking Best Packers and Movers so Just Visit At: http://www.top9th.in/packers-and-movers-bangalore/ http://www.top9th.in/packers-and-movers-hyderabad/ http://www.top9th.in/packers-and-movers-mumbai/ http://www.top9th.in/packers-and-movers-delhi/ http://www.top9th.in/packers-and-movers-gurgaon/ http://www.top9th.in/








mother earth news fair 2018 schedule

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: August 4-5, 2018
Albany, OR

Sit in on dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on natural health, organic gardening, real food and more!

LEARN MORE









Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.




Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265