“Good For What Ails You: Medicinal Plants of the Ozarks” Researched by Carla Roberts and Terri Jones
Today when people get sick, they go to a doctor who prescribes a medicine bought at a drugstore. The medicine usually has some long Latin name that is meaningless to anyone except a doctor or pharmacist. But, in the past, when someone was sick they went to the woods for medicinal herbs with names everyone could understand–goldenseal, mullein, mayapple and snakeroot.
Ella Dunn and Earl Stiles both used their knowledge of herbs, passed down through generations, to doctor their own families and neighbors for fevers, aches, arthritis, skin diseases and other ailments. Using the roots, bark or leaves of plants found growing wild in the woods or cultivated along the yard fence, both helped to ease the pain and misery of many people. “I never charged a dime,” said Earl. “Once we spent sixty dollars for doctor medicine and I went and got thirteen cents for my own remedy and done the same thing.”
Ella learned about medicinal herbs from her father. However, some of the herbs he prepared and used, such as digitalis known as foxglove, Ella did not use because these herbs became readily available already prepared in the drugstore. “Even though my husband had heart trouble,” she said, “I never used digitalis. I don’t even know how my father prepared it because we could buy it already prepared.” But many other herbs became fever and cold remedies, spring tonics and salves and ointments.