Folk Medical Uses of Plant Foods in Southern Appalachia, United States

Document Type


Publication Date



An analysis of information obtained from interviews with 660 older native inhabitants of the southern Appalachian region in the United States indicates that plant foods, especially cultivars and materials processed from them, and some wildcrafted plant foods as well, constituted the bulk of the folk materia medica in the 1920s and 1930s. Aside from their use for the treatment of common ailments, many plant foods were, and still are to a lesser extent, valued in the region for cleaning and building blood, cleaning the bowel, and as a source of vitamins and minerals. The dependence on plant foods and wildcrafted medicinal plants, however, appears to have diminished considerably in recent years.