Skip to Content

Explore the Constellation

Herbal Medicine

Health

1890

These remedies have been important to surviving slavery and segregation.

African Americans have long used non-Western medical treatments for healing. Whether called herbal medicine, natural medicine, ethnomedicine, or folk medicine, these practices involve the use of botanical compounds and are based on ancient knowledge from Africans, Native Americans, and Europeans. African Americans have used plants like cabbage and ginseng leaves to cure fever and other conditions.

Woman with Collard Leaf to Cure Headache by Mary Lyde Hicks Williams depicts a Black woman named Victoria Brown wearing a collard leaf under her headwrap. Brown was enslaved on a North Carolina plantation belonging to Williams' family.