Old Appalachian Folk Remedies They Used To Swear By

Ramps Were More Than Just A Strong Onion Ramps, belonging to the allium family, are a distinctive member of North American cuisine and are often referred… Alli Anderson - September 25, 2023
The Permaculture Institute

Ramps Were More Than Just A Strong Onion

Ramps, belonging to the allium family, are a distinctive member of North American cuisine and are often referred to as our native leeks. These wild plants are renowned for their pungent aroma and flavor, which can be likened to “industrial strength onions” due to their remarkable richness in sulphide compounds. In the Appalachian tradition, ramps were celebrated not just for their robust flavor but also for their potential health benefits. It was a common belief that after a long winter of consuming preserved foods like dried vegetables and salted meat, a “spring cleaning” for the body was needed.

To achieve this, people turned to remedies like sulfur and molasses. However, for a more palatable and enjoyable alternative, they would indulge in a hearty meal of “ramps.” A “mess o’ ramps,” as it’s affectionately known, became a traditional Appalachian springtime dish, heralding the arrival of a new season and a return to fresh, locally foraged foods. The strong flavors and vibrant greenery of ramps symbolized the revitalization of both the body and spirit after the hardships of winter.


Protestantism & Mysticism Come Together For Powerful Healing

The burn spell, a cherished Appalachian healing practice passed down through generations, holds a place of significance in the tradition of women like Ballard. Rooted in the practical wisdom of their foremothers and their close-knit communities, this spell wasn’t referred to as a mystical ritual; it was simply the words spoken when someone suffered a bad burn, resulting in the burn’s miraculous improvement. It didn’t require elaborate attire or specialized tools; it was accessible and rooted in everyday life.

All it entailed was repeating a simple chant three times while making a counter-clockwise motion with one’s hands over the burned area without making direct contact. The words of the chant—”Come! Three angels from the North, Take both fire and frost”—reflect the intriguing blend of mysticism and Protestant Christianity often found in Appalachian culture. It was a down-to-earth form of witchcraft, an inherent aspect of their lives that used readily available materials and resources. It was born from generations of living close to the land, making do with what was at hand, and being resourceful in the face of adversity.

Tame The Spirit Herbs

Shrub Yellowroot For Digestive Issues

Yellowroot, a prominent native plant in the Appalachian region, has long been recognized for its medicinal properties. This versatile shrub is widely acknowledged throughout the area, and its applications in traditional remedies span a range of ailments affecting the stomach, kidneys, liver, or bladder. One of the standout qualities of Yellowroot is its antibiotic properties, which are akin to those found in Goldenseal but are often considered safer to use.

This made it a trusted choice for addressing various health concerns while avoiding potential side effects associated with other remedies. The doctrine of signatures, a principle employed by many indigenous cultures, played a role in identifying Yellowroot’s medicinal potential. This doctrine posits that the appearance of a plant often indicates its use in medicine. In the case of Yellowroot, its vibrant yellow color served as a visual cue, guiding those seeking natural remedies to recognize its potential as a healing agent.

Nitty Gritty Life

Wild Cherry Bark Cough Syrup

Wild cherry bark, a staple in Native American traditional medicine, has historically been utilized for a wide range of ailments including coughs, colds, fevers, labor pain, dysentery, digestive problems, and skin wounds. While contemporary herbalists primarily endorse its efficacy in addressing coughs and providing respiratory support, its versatility lends itself to various other medicinal applications.

To prepare this syrup, the bark of wild cherry trees was carefully harvested, often during the winter months when the tree’s medicinal properties were most concentrated. The bark was then simmered and steeped to extract its beneficial compounds. Wild Cherry Bark Cough Syrup was highly regarded for its ability to alleviate coughing and provide relief from the symptoms of the common cold. Its effectiveness lay in its natural compounds, which had a soothing and calming effect on the respiratory system.