Appalachian Thursday – Spring Tonics

GE DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s been a roller coaster leading up to the first few days of spring. We’ve had temperatures in the 70s and then . . . snow. Back and forth, spring has been a terrible tease this year.

Of course, it’s not as bad as when folks had to wait for spring to eat anything that resembled a fresh vegetable. Those were the days when country folks indulged in their favorite spring tonics.

My great-grandmother would send Dad out to gather young mullein leaves each spring when he was a boy. She dried them in the oven, then crumbled them. She smoked two pipes full and that was her spring tonic. I don’t know if she enjoyed it, or if it was more of a medicine, but it allegedly perked her up.

I think most of us are in need of a spring tonic now and again. The idea is to purify the blood and enliven the body after a long winter of being cooped up inside. Some popular spring greens for tonics included dandelion, poke, and ramps. Sassafras and spice bush were used to make teas.

And then there was the classic Appalachian spring tonic–Sulphur and molasses. Each has definite health properties, although I wonder if the main purpose of the molasses was to help get the Sulphur down. Regardless of whether it got the blood moving, it would definitely cause other systems to “move.”

As for me . . . I think I’ll stick to a nice, green salad and a long walk in the sunshine.

4 thoughts on “Appalachian Thursday – Spring Tonics

  1. I love poke salad! Have a few messes every year. As a child, my brother and I were dosed monthly with a drop of turpentine in a teaspoon of sugar. I am 60 and I have yet to learn why.

    • I’ve heard about dosing with turpentine–I’ll have to do a bit of investigating and see if I can learn what the idea was! Sometimes, I think folks figured if it tasted bad it must be good for you!

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