African American Slave Herbal Medicines

"Medical historians have identified... herbs used by slaves. These herbs include Indian hemp or General Marion's weed (Apocynum cannabium), sore throat root (Caulophyllum thalictrodes, sweat room (Polemonium reptans), backache root (Liatris spicata and Agave virginica) (Goodson 1987). Slave uses of these and other herbs and plants varied with region. Fett (2002: 7) wrote, "Herbal practices, for example, changed with varying ecosystems." She added that certain regions, such as the Georgia and South Carolina Sea Islands area, "offered more concentrated evidence of African cultural retentions." (74)

"Pumpkin (Cucubita pepo)

The medicinal part of the pumpkin is the seed. Bankole (1998) found that slaves used pumpkin seed with Indian hemp to treat yellow fever. Pumpkin seeds in modern thinking are an effective vermifuge for worms (Peirce 1999; Tyler 1985), although its use for this purpose is now rare (Wichtl 2004). The PDR for Herbs noted it has been approved for irritable bladder and prostrate complaints (Flemming 2000). Henry Lewis(Texas) indicated it was used ... to treat the heart. (108)"

- excerpts from African American Slave Medicine by Herbert C. Covey (2007)

slave, medicine, african american, Herbert C. Covey