· By Tarleton Walmsley
Emma Dupree was a Black herbalist, living in rural North Carolina where she served homemade herbal remedies to her community for well over 50 years. Emma prepared these concoctions using plants from her own garden--things like sassafrass, white mint, mullein, catnip, and rabbit tobacco were made into teas, tinctures, salves, and dried blends to help heal any number of ailments.
Having grown up around the Tar River area, Emma was drawn to nature from a young age. Around town, she was known as the "woods gal," or "little medicine thing." In assisting local health workers, Emma was able to learn about bodily systems and how the herbs she grew could provide healing and relief. One of her most popular recipes was called a Nine-Herb Tonic, filled in a glass bottle or jar, with verbal instructions on how to use it. Emma often preferred to barter ingredients for her remedies, and no one was ever turned away from receiving her help.
If you're interested in learning more about Emma Dupree and her work, I've included some links here. I first heard of Emma through Mennlay Golokeh Aggrey's IG feed. Learning about her life and work is so cool and I wish I could sit on Emma's porch with her, listening to her tell stories about herbs and her life. I also wonder what Emma would think of CBD, and if cannabis was ever included in her plant medicine offerings.