Old Appalachian Folk Remedies They Used To Swear By

Elderberry Syrup For Immune Support Elderberry Syrup, a cherished Appalachian folk remedy, draws from a history that stretches back as far as 400 BC, when Hippocrates,… Alli Anderson - September 25, 2023

Elderberry Syrup For Immune Support

Elderberry Syrup, a cherished Appalachian folk remedy, draws from a history that stretches back as far as 400 BC, when Hippocrates, often referred to as the “Father of Medicine,” revered the elder tree as his “medicine chest.” This ancient acknowledgment of elderberry’s healing properties laid the foundation for its continued use in folk medicine, earning it a well-deserved reputation as one of the world’s most therapeutic plants. The elderberry’s magical aura finds resonance with the Celts, who held it in high regard. To them, it was a plant of mystical significance, carrying with it a sense of enchantment and wonder. Its presence in the Appalachian landscape serves as a living connection to these ancient traditions.

In the Appalachian region and other parts of the world, the tradition of harnessing elderberry’s potency continued through the generations. Elderberry bushes, with their clusters of dark purple berries, were readily available in the lush landscapes of the Appalachians. These berries, when carefully harvested and prepared, became the primary ingredient in Elderberry Syrup, a remedy celebrated for its immune-boosting prowess. Elderberry Syrup wasn’t just a sweet concoction; it was regarded as a natural defense against illness. The elderberries’ antioxidant-rich content, combined with their wealth of vitamins, was believed to fortify the body’s defenses and provide relief from a range of symptoms, particularly those associated with colds and flu.

A wagonload of ginseng being hauled away – likely to sell. 100 Days Of Appalachia

Ginseng Is Still One Of the Most Popular Herbs In The US

This one may be the most notable in Appalachian history. The region is well known for its abundance of ginseng. Ginseng holds immense significance in Appalachian medicine, where its roots have been woven into the fabric of healing practices for generations. Native Americans, with their deep connection to the land, recognized ginseng’s potential early on. They utilized the root as a stimulant to combat fatigue and as a remedy for various ailments, including headaches, fever, indigestion, and infertility.

Over time, ginseng’s reputation as a versatile herbal remedy has endured, making it one of the most popular herbs in the United States. Ginseng in the wild is endangered because the method of harvesting involves digging up its roots, which is why harvesting wild ginseng is highly regulated in the US and is illegal in some states. You can cultivate and harvest your own ginseng at home, however.


Buying Warts From Someone Would Make The Wart Disappear

The ability to remove warts was a shared talent within the family, rooted in their Appalachian heritage in North Georgia. On the paternal side, the grandmother showcased this skill by successfully eliminating over a hundred warts from a young relative in a single day. She initiated the process by instructing the child to collect a substantial number of smooth stones. Prepared with a paper bag, she systematically took each stone, and while quietly murmuring inaudible words, she rubbed it over every wart. After the treatment, she deposited the stone into the paper bag.

When all the warts had received this unique treatment, she directed the child to seal the bag and place it by the side of the road. She explained that, as people passed by, the warts would somehow jump onto them, leaving the young relative free of warts. Remarkably, in about three days, all of the child’s warts had disappeared. On the maternal side, the grandfather possessed a similar ability to make warts vanish through touch and whispered words, even extending his healing prowess to seed warts that affected livestock in the town. This effectiveness challenged skepticism regarding the placebo effect, leaving an enduring mark on the family’s belief in their healing traditions.


Ginger For Multiple Ailments

Ginger Infusion, a cherished remedy in the Appalachian tradition, served as a reliable solution for addressing various digestive discomforts. Ginger tea, derived from ginger root, was a prevalent choice for combatting nausea, heartburn, sour stomach, and a wide array of stomach ailments. Its widespread use showcased the versatility and effectiveness of this natural remedy.

The therapeutic properties of ginger root extended beyond its digestive benefits. Its anti-inflammatory nature made it a valuable ally in addressing various health issues over time. The anti-inflammatory compounds found in ginger could help alleviate symptoms associated with conditions beyond digestive troubles. Furthermore, ginger’s soothing qualities extended to respiratory concerns. In cases of a cough or cold, ginger syrup was a go-to remedy in the Appalachian pharmacopeia. The syrup’s warming and soothing properties provided relief from the discomfort associated with these ailments.

Dark Hollar Witch

“Granny Women” Would Help Ailing Infants

These resourceful Appalachian women possessed a deep well of knowledge, understanding that remedies like catnip tea and red alder tea could effectively prevent infants from developing hives. When faced with colicky babies, they turned to the soothing properties of stewed-down calamus root or catnip tea. Catnip tea, a time-honored remedy in Appalachia, was a trusted solution for alleviating colic in infants. Colic, characterized by excessive crying and fussiness in babies, can be a challenging condition for both parents and infants. Appalachian communities turned to the soothing properties of catnip to provide relief.

To alleviate flu symptoms, they ingeniously placed sulfur in the soles of shoes. And in cases of severe burns, they relied on a blend of smoke, chants, and precise words to work their healing magic, coaxing the fire’s destructive power away from the injured. Their intimate knowledge of these remedies and their unwavering commitment to their communities made them invaluable healers in the rugged landscape of Appalachia.

Druid’s Well.

Englishman’s Foot To Reduce Pain & Swelling

The rich tapestry of herbal remedies in the Appalachian region reflects the blending of native traditions and those brought by immigrants. Native peoples embraced new plants introduced by settlers, such as mullein, catnip mint (used not for pet cats but to soothe colicky babies), peaches, and plantain, among many others.

Plantain, scientifically known as Plantago major, held a unique nickname among the indigenous populations—it was called “Englishman’s Foot” because, wherever European settlers tread, this hardy plant seemed to flourish. Its remarkable ability to alleviate pain and reduce swelling made it particularly valuable to the Tuscarora tribe, who used it as a vital poultice for snakebites. This interplay between native and immigrant flora showcases the adaptability and resourcefulness of Appalachian communities in embracing the wealth of new plant species introduced by settlers.

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.