Why Did They Have Their Own Medicine?
In the early settlements of the Appalachian region, the presence of doctors was not unknown, and they could be summoned when a medical situation exceeded the capabilities of home treatment. Accidents, often involving sharp tools like axes or knives, were not uncommon, necessitating skilled suturing to address wounds. Additionally, the hearth posed a constant fire hazard, and many women faced the risk of severe burns if their clothing caught fire while tending to the open flame.
Within these communities, “Granny Women” played a pivotal role as trusted figures in matters of health. They were skilled in delivering babies, offering guidance to new mothers, and serving as the local “Herb Doctor.” Their knowledge spanned a broad spectrum of remedies, crossing cultural boundaries, as both white settlers and indigenous populations adopted the use of various plants and herbs for medicinal purposes. These included ginseng, sassafras, wild cherry bark, sumac, black walnut, dogwood bark, yellowroot, and club moss, among others.