Turning Season: Conversations with Changemakers in Our Adventure Toward a Life-Sustaining Society

Turning Season: Conversations with Changemakers in Our Adventure Toward a Life-Sustaining Society

Afro-lachian Herbal Remedies, Past Stories & Current Conversations (with Ruby Daniels)

June 03, 2023

In this planet-wide, diverse movement we can call The Great Turning, one of the threads I'm personally following is medicine. I'm all in for the shift to a life-honoring, life-sustaining approach to understanding illness, treating disease, and promoting health and healing. 

Ruby Daniels is part of this shift, too, growing medicinal herbs and making botanical medicines at her home in West Virginia.

I connected with Ruby because she's on the board of United Plant Savers. I heard her talking about protecting wild ginseng, and about her mission to change the narrative of African American relationships to woodland botanicals, and educate about the herbal traditions of African Americans, which have been practiced since the time of slavery.

Ruby is the founder of Creasy Jane's Herbal Remedies. She comes from a creative and inventive family who were enslaved in Virginia and moved to the Southern coalfields of West Virginia to build a new life after emancipation. Ruby refers to her heritage as “Afro-lachian.” She spent many childhood summers in the mountains of Raleigh County, West Virginia, with her great aunt, Ruby, her grandmother, and other wise women of the community, learning about herbal traditions, God, and the plants of the mountains. After earning her Master’s of Science in Herbal Therapeutics, she returned to West Virginia, where she runs Creasy Jane's, named after her great-grandmother, Creasy Jane Pack. Creasy Jane’s offers custom-made herbal teas and tinctures, herbal soaps, and other topical herbal remedies. All her herbal products are formulated with a combination of Appalachian herbal traditional remedies, science and research and spirit.

Listen in to our conversation to hear about:

  • Ruby's research into how slaves in the region used herbal medicine
  • her experiences as a Black woman in her master's degree program and in the business of herbal medicine
  • Ruby's family's history and "permaculture" lifestyle after emancipation
  • her town's history, and herbal medicines for today's coal mining-related illnesses
  • protecting wild ginseng
  • the forest and garden botanicals she works with

and more.

I'm so grateful for the chance to hear from Ruby, to learn from her and to get these glimpses of how the Great Turning is moving through her in multiple ways, from making sure history is remembered to helping local coal miners with their lung health, from bringing her perspective into academic and workplace conversations to cultivating garden food and herbs. 

Enjoy this conversation with Ruby, and be sure to check out Creasy Jane's online shop, the research Ruby talks about, and historical photos of Ruby's family and recent photos from her garden. Links and photos are in the show notes: https://turningseason.com/episode34

Register for the (free!) Great Turning Summit: https://programs.schoolforthegreatturning.com/gtsummit