Herb Remedies

Herb Remedies


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes




The Fabled Doctor Jim Jordan

A Story of Conjure

 By F. Roy Johnson

   Conjuring & Doctoring




Herb Remedies

Doctor Jordan’s mother Harriet brought with her from slavery an extraordinary knowledge of nature and weather wisdom and home remedies as well as folk lore and beliefs. Then for more than forty years her friends on Spiers’ Quarters and neighboring farms turned to her for comfort and relief in times of illness.

Her son Jim profited greatly from her knowledge during the early years of his practice while he obtained added herb and conjure knowledge from his Uncle Allen Vaughan of Brownville and his cousin known as Aunt Jo(sephine) Minton of the Virginia Diamond Grove community six miles north of Como.

The Doctor’s sister Emma lists the remedies as taught by their mother:

SEDGEFIELD—for upset stomach and diarrhea, children and adults. To prepare: take a quart of water, drop in one burned oyster shell (to preserve the tea and give the stomach a coating), two rusty nails (rustier the better, to build up iron in blood), three or four green sweetgum buds, one sedgefield vine; boil to a tea. Dosing: mix half glass each of water and tea; use brandy instead of water for adults if preferred.


WILD STICK WEED—for aches and pains. To prepare: boil weed into a tea. To dose: rub tea over aching parts of body.


MULLEN—for colds ands respiratory ills. To prepare: boil one bunch of mullen in two quarts of water to a tea. To dose: drink one cup of the tea, get beneath a blanket to sweat off the aches and pains.


WILD STICK WEED AND MULLEN—for dropsy patients. To dose: drink the mullen tea and rub with the wild stick weed tea. Together they will “draw the misery out.”


CATNIP—for fever. Make tea from leaves.


SAGE—for swelling. Make tea from leaves.


COLLET ROOT—for aches and pains. Chew root as taken from the ground or dry for later use.


FLAG—for aches and pains. Make tea from leaves.


WORM SEED—for worms. To prepare: take green worm seed, boil them in a spider of water, fry them in grease, add molasses and cook down to a candy. To dose: feed candy to children and adults as needed. (Harriet would gather the seed in the spring and prepare a story of candy for the year.)

Tom Sharpe Majette of Route 2, Ahoskie, near Union says as a boy he helped Allen Vaughan gather these plants and herbs:

GALL OF THE EARTH—to induce vomiting.

BLACK MARSTER—to induce vomiting.

RATTLE SNAKE ROOT—to treat the nerves.

RUE BUSH—for worms.

MULLEN—for colds and sweating.

POKE MERCURY AND LOW JOHN—to repel by conjure.

LADY SLIPPER AND HIGH JOHN—to induce love and friendliness by conjure.

RUNNING JOHN—as a conjure to carry in the pocket for good luck.

John Edward Lawrence (1881_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _) adds to the herb remedies:

DOUBLE TANZY (two leaves)—for woman in child labor. For Single Tanzy and weaker tea use one leaf.


CATNIP—to relieve babies of gas.

DOGWOOD LEAVES AND GREASE—for burns and scalding.

MAN’S DRINK—strong purgative.

SWEET FLAG—children to chew for stomach pains.

GARLIC ROOT—strung around child’s neck to aid in teething.

MOLE FOOT—strung around child’s neck for teething.

Puckett in his “Folk Beliefs of the Southern Negro” lists some of the roots and herbs shown him by conjurers:

CRUEL MAN OF WOODS—Wrap roots in red flannel. Will harm your enemies if they try to harm you.


ANGEL’S TURNIP—Wrap in red flannel—brings good luck.


DEVIL’S SHOE STRING—Cut root into small pieces, put camphor or whiskey on it and rub on your hands—will give you control over any woman. “Dress inside of hands with it and back of hands with devil’s snuff, grab your enemy by the arm when he comes for you and he will be blinded. Carry a bit in your pocket, no snake will bit you; a piece in a man’s path, he will never have any money; use it for a gambling “hand.”


PLANT OF PEACE—Take the leaves, rub on hands—will blind enemies. Use to make “hands” to bring security and peace—to protect you from enemies.


KING OF THE WOODS—(Three leaves representing the Trinity)—Fine for making any sort of conquering “hands.” Mix with sarsaparilla and coon-root and steep into a tea. Will cure almost anything.


SAMSON SNAKEROOT—Chew to soften hearts. Use in any hand or trick. Steep into a tea for “cramping, lame back, or lost manhood.”


TOADSTOOL—Cut off the top, dry it, and wet with camphor or whiskey. Rub on limbs to cure sprains and rheumatism and to protect from conjuration.


GRAPEVINE—Hit a man with a piece of grapevine and he will lose the use of his limbs.


TEN FINGERS—Get a leaf from this plant and measure the middle finger on your left hand with it. Then tear the leaf off, wrap it up, keep it in your pocket. It will give you control over any one.


BLOOD OF CHRIST—Mix roots with sugar, spice, and bluestone. Wrap (towards yourself) in red flannel. Bring peace and safety.

Source: F. Roy Johnson • The Fabled Doctor Jim Jordan • © Copyright 1963 •Johnson Publishing Co.• Murfreesboro, N. C.

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *


*   *   *   *   *






posted 14 May 2006 / update 23 2008



Home  Jim Jordan Table 

Related File: Conjuring & Doctoring

Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.