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Southern Folk Medicine: Healing Traditions from the Appalachian Fields and Forests

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This book is the first to describe the history, folklore, assessment and diagnosis methods of Southern and Appalachian Folk Medicine(SAFM)--the only system of folk medicine, other than Native American, that developed in the United States. One of the system's last active practitioners, Phyllis D. Light has studied and worked with herbs, foods, and other healing techniques f This book is the first to describe the history, folklore, assessment and diagnosis methods of Southern and Appalachian Folk Medicine(SAFM)--the only system of folk medicine, other than Native American, that developed in the United States. One of the system's last active practitioners, Phyllis D. Light has studied and worked with herbs, foods, and other healing techniques for more than thirty years. In everyday language, she explains how Southern and Appalachian Folk Medicine was passed down orally through the generations by herbalists and healers who cared for people in their communities with the natural tools on hand.  Several cultural and healing traditions merged together over a period of time to create Southern Folk Medicine, which draws from the medicine systems of the Greeks (humoral system, astrology), Native Americans (indigenous plant use, spiritual traditions, elements), African (spiritual traditions, foods), and the folk medicine of the British Isles (elements, humors, superstitions, herbs). Light shows that this is not a forgotten system, but an active, viable approach to herbalism that is readily understood and easily put into practice.  A fourth-generation herbalist and healer, the author began her studies in the deep woods of North Alabama with lessons from her grandmother, whose knowledge had its roots in her Creek/Cherokee heritage. Light continued as an apprentice with the late Tommie Bass, a nationally renowned folk herbalist, as well as other herbal Elders throughout the Appalachians and the Deep South. Light's extensive knowledge and experience informs her explanation of the Southern Blood Types, which is different from any other indigenous system. The four elements and four tastes form the energetic foundation of the principles and practices, which recognize each individual's uniqueness and the fact that people with the same disorder might have totally different symptoms and therefore might there need totally different herbal remedies. Not only an elucidating description of Southern Folk Medicine, but also a fascinating account of how a healthcare system evolved to meet the needs of the people of this country, this book presents a comprehensive look at a uniquely American concept of healing based on self-care and personal responsibility.


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This book is the first to describe the history, folklore, assessment and diagnosis methods of Southern and Appalachian Folk Medicine(SAFM)--the only system of folk medicine, other than Native American, that developed in the United States. One of the system's last active practitioners, Phyllis D. Light has studied and worked with herbs, foods, and other healing techniques f This book is the first to describe the history, folklore, assessment and diagnosis methods of Southern and Appalachian Folk Medicine(SAFM)--the only system of folk medicine, other than Native American, that developed in the United States. One of the system's last active practitioners, Phyllis D. Light has studied and worked with herbs, foods, and other healing techniques for more than thirty years. In everyday language, she explains how Southern and Appalachian Folk Medicine was passed down orally through the generations by herbalists and healers who cared for people in their communities with the natural tools on hand.  Several cultural and healing traditions merged together over a period of time to create Southern Folk Medicine, which draws from the medicine systems of the Greeks (humoral system, astrology), Native Americans (indigenous plant use, spiritual traditions, elements), African (spiritual traditions, foods), and the folk medicine of the British Isles (elements, humors, superstitions, herbs). Light shows that this is not a forgotten system, but an active, viable approach to herbalism that is readily understood and easily put into practice.  A fourth-generation herbalist and healer, the author began her studies in the deep woods of North Alabama with lessons from her grandmother, whose knowledge had its roots in her Creek/Cherokee heritage. Light continued as an apprentice with the late Tommie Bass, a nationally renowned folk herbalist, as well as other herbal Elders throughout the Appalachians and the Deep South. Light's extensive knowledge and experience informs her explanation of the Southern Blood Types, which is different from any other indigenous system. The four elements and four tastes form the energetic foundation of the principles and practices, which recognize each individual's uniqueness and the fact that people with the same disorder might have totally different symptoms and therefore might there need totally different herbal remedies. Not only an elucidating description of Southern Folk Medicine, but also a fascinating account of how a healthcare system evolved to meet the needs of the people of this country, this book presents a comprehensive look at a uniquely American concept of healing based on self-care and personal responsibility.

30 review for Southern Folk Medicine: Healing Traditions from the Appalachian Fields and Forests

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    As a student of Phyllis Light, I am so excited that she has put her work (and the long tradition it is part of) into book form. She is an excellent story teller... And, her insights into the human body-mind-spirit are steeped in her experience as an herbalist and the folk tradition of medicine she practices. Truly, anyone can benefit from this book...but I think its an absolute "must have" for anyone in Appalachia or the Deep South. As a student of Phyllis Light, I am so excited that she has put her work (and the long tradition it is part of) into book form. She is an excellent story teller... And, her insights into the human body-mind-spirit are steeped in her experience as an herbalist and the folk tradition of medicine she practices. Truly, anyone can benefit from this book...but I think its an absolute "must have" for anyone in Appalachia or the Deep South.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Peg

    I found this book very informative, not only on the history of southern folk medicine, but also of those who have continued this practice. It looks at other folk medicines in comparison and contrast along with the progression it has made working along side modern medicine. It really helped me see where these 'home remedies' originate from. While this form of medicine may not be for everyone, this book will definitely give you the background, the insight and the basis of understanding the princip I found this book very informative, not only on the history of southern folk medicine, but also of those who have continued this practice. It looks at other folk medicines in comparison and contrast along with the progression it has made working along side modern medicine. It really helped me see where these 'home remedies' originate from. While this form of medicine may not be for everyone, this book will definitely give you the background, the insight and the basis of understanding the principles of folk medicine.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Very interesting stories. Only gave 4 stars to this one simply because the book went too into detail over some of the humors, personality types, etc. Would rather read more experiences with southern folk medicine than medical terms.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Josephine Ensign

    Poorly written with long, meandering, mostly pointless stories interspersed with folk medicine advice of dubious value.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dee

    I loved this book so much. Phyllis draws the reader in from the very beginnings with stories from her own life around the healing plants. Reading history through the lens of healing and healers feels so much more real and meaningful than what can be found in textbooks or classrooms. There is so much to be learned here: how present day Appalachian folk practices evolved over the history of this region; how people from different cultures who were all oppressed helped each other to heal from illnes I loved this book so much. Phyllis draws the reader in from the very beginnings with stories from her own life around the healing plants. Reading history through the lens of healing and healers feels so much more real and meaningful than what can be found in textbooks or classrooms. There is so much to be learned here: how present day Appalachian folk practices evolved over the history of this region; how people from different cultures who were all oppressed helped each other to heal from illness and to keep healthy in spite of the hardships imposed upon them; which plants are important to these entangled traditions are just some of the fascinating and eye-opening parts of this book. And the questionnaire at the end was amazingly accurate in its ability to help me understand my own constitution. Reading this book was a confirmation that we can and do help one another to heal ourselves, each other, and, by extension, gives me hope that we can and will honor and heal this world as well.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Weslyn

    I throughly enjoyed reading this book and learning the foundations for Southern Folk Medicine. The only thing I was dissatisfied with was the amount of herbal remedies. I thought they would take up more than just a paragraph here and there. Regardless of that, I still enjoyed the book and would read it again.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay Sutton

    This book is more of a meta-overview of southern folk medicine, describing some history and the tenants and concepts of this tradition. She describes the humorous constitutions, fluids, and elements, and she has general or recommendations for constitutions.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    Of all the different approaches to herbalism, this one felt the most natural to me. All have merit but we must work within a system that we can connect to well. Love the blending of story, history, and herb info.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

    I now have a much better understanding of what Folk medicine is. I love this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ramona

    This is a wonderful and informative book. This book was well written and I look forward to reading more books by this author. I won this book through a giveaway on Goodreads website.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    Does not have many monographs

  12. 4 out of 5

    Constance

    Thank You Phyllis D. Light for this introduction to Southern Fold Medicine. The south is a place of excitement and wonder to those with the luck to travel there. Enjoyable read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mary Nee

    I found this book was well written and very informative.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ruth Ann Waugh

  15. 5 out of 5

    Anastasia

  16. 5 out of 5

    Meagan Lucas

  17. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

  18. 5 out of 5

    WayfaringStranger

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea Carter

  20. 5 out of 5

    Wood

  21. 4 out of 5

    Haley

  22. 5 out of 5

    Annette Howell

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ruth Davis

  24. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ronda Lindsey

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shuli

  27. 5 out of 5

    Shiralee Beck

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rebekah Frank

  29. 4 out of 5

    Luna S

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cassidy

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