Hidden Histories: African American Herbalism and Traditional Forest Remedies

February is Black History Month. It’s not about famous people. It’s a time to appreciate the amazing things Black Americans have done to make our society better. There are many contributions you might not know about. One is how African Americans have used natural healing methods over the years.

A Legacy of Knowledge

In the past, our ancestors had a smart way of taking care of themselves. It wasn’t only about fixing sickness. It was a complete approach to feeling good physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Wise healers were often called “root doctors” or “granny women.” They knew a lot about plants. They used plants to help with everyday illnesses, long-term health issues, and more. American scientists even go to Africa to learn about plant healing. They copy those properties in labs to make medicines we use here. And guess what? They’re still doing it today.

A Legacy of Resilience

A long time ago, enslaved people weren’t allowed to go to the doctor. So they used old wisdom about plants and traditions from Africa to stay healthy. They made medicine with plants from the forest, and it helped them survive tough times. Africans knew a lot about using plants and natural remedies from their homelands. America continues to use and adapt these traditions.

Treasures of the Forest

Imagine the forest as a treasure trove of medicine. It has an abundance of herbs, plants, and mushrooms that can support and heal. Plants for everything from tummy troubles to building immunity. All to help our communities stay healthy. We still rely on forests today for this very purpose. It’s another important reason to protect forests.

Beyond the Blog

For a long time, people scoffed at this traditional wisdom.  Lately, though, more and more people want to remember and bring it back. Groups are writing down what our ancestors knew. We’re starting gardens in communities. We’re helping young people learn about their plant heritage.

Now, let’s find out more:


When we talk about this hidden history, we’re also learning a ton about old-school remedies. We’re learning how traditional African knowledge is still make a big impact on healthcare today.

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