Four Wise Women Who Are Changing the World of Medicine

Four Wise Women Who Are Changing the World of Medicine

We’d like to highlight four of the wisest women we know and share how they are doing their part to spread plant love and optimum nourishment of the body and spirit.

1. Phyllis Light

I first met Phyllis late at night when I made the six hour commute from my home near Asheville, North Carolina down to Arab, Alabama to the Appalachian Center for Natural Health. I thought I had really done it this time, completely lost my way with no cell service in the middle of somewhere Alabama to a school I’d committed to for at least a year and never before visited - and suddenly out of the darkness comes the light (Phyllis Light) who welcomed me with open arms into her world and the practice of Southern Folk Medicine - and I am so proud to have had her as my mentor and teacher for the past four years and my heroin for the rest of my life. 

Phyllis can be described as a national treasure. An herbal legend. She is most recently the author of Southern Folk Medicine: Healing Traditions from the Appalachian Fields and Forests, the first to describe the history, folklore, assessment methods, and remedies of Southern and Appalachian Folk Medicine—the only system of folk medicine, other than Native American, that developed in the United States. Phyllis’s own education began in her blood, then as a child on family ginseng hunts, and has continued to a MA degree in health studies from the University of Alabama. A fourth generation wildcrafter of Cherokee and Creek descent, her roots go down deep in the cultural heritage of the south but her branches are forever reaching into the latest science of today. 

Phyllis has been an herbal practitioner to many and varied populations for several decades and continues to maintain an active practice, while also directing the Appalachian Center for Natural Health and teaching everything from story medicine to nutrition to spiritual healing worldwide. 

Phyllis has shared with me some of the wildest and yet most down to earth case studies and folk tales I have ever heard. If everything has a use, Phyllis knows five uses for everything. Just ask her about eating Vick’s Vapo-rub. She once told me, “Growing up we did everything holistically, but we didn’t know we were holistic. We were just poor!" Phyllis has defined for me what it means to be resourceful and make herbal medicine truly accessible to all. Phyllis’s stories of her family of healers who would make house calls and bring no herbs but use whatever they found growing in the backyard have defined for me what it means to be truly bioregional. 

The woman who taught me to drink the cooking water from my broccoli and cauliflower and call it pot liquor, the woman who taught me to view everything in the world as either air, fire, water, or earth, and the woman who has the best kitchen junk drawer in the world - because it’s full of tiny little tops and ends of ginseng or ‘little man’ from decades ago. 

Phyllis is a mother of five, a grandmother of three, a healer of many, and an inspiration to us all. Find her at phyllisdlight.com.

 

2. Jody Noe

Jody NoeDr. Jody Noe is an all-round incredible woman and healer. Not only is she a naturopath (N.D.) who runs her own integrative medicine practice, but she is a traditional Cherokee herbal medicine woman who spent years in training with her Cherokee elders. She approaches the body with the traditional indigenous view that all things are sacred, and spirit is in all things, including our beloved herbs and stones.

Dr. Noe specializes in integrative oncology, and is the author of a well-researched tome on the subject, Textbook of Naturopathic Integrative Oncology. Her energetic work encompasses a vast range of healing tools that are both allopathic and homeopathic, including herbs, diet, lifestyle, and spiritual counseling.

Find Dr. Noe online at drjodyenoe.com.

3. Corinna Wood

Corinna WoodSteeped in the Wise Woman tradition, Corinna Wood is a voice for local foods and medicines which feed both body and soul. Rather than practicing with plant medicine that uses herbs from distant regions or traditions, Corinna’s attention as a community herbalist is on the weeds and wilds in our own backyards. She focuses on attuning women to the cycles of the earth, the plants, and the moon.

 

Holistic women’s education has been Corinna’s primary focus over recent years, and out of this effort she has led thousands of women from all paths of life into the green world of herbal medicine. Corinna shares her knowledge and her loving connection with mother nature by engaging women in the sphere of plant medicines each spring during her yearly immersions.

Corinna Wood has been practicing, teaching, and carrying on the Wise Woman Tradition for over 30 years. Corinna co-founded Red Moon Herbs in 1994 and made herbal medicines from fresh, local plants for 20 years until passing on the baton to Jeannie Dunn. Corinna is also renowned as the founder and director of the legendary Southeast Wise Women Herbal Conference. With extensive training and experience in herbal medicine and spiritual psychology for women, Corinna now teaches earth-based tools for inner growth and healing. See Wise Woman Studies with Corinna Wood

A note from Corinna: “​​After many years of making and teaching herbal medicines for women’s health, it dawned on me that I needed my own medicine kit for the heart, mind and soul! I applied all I knew of the wise woman ways towards my own deep inner healing. I drew on my depth and breadth of knowledge––nature and her cycles, health and healing, nonviolent communication and feminist spiritual psychology. Now I support earth-based women with tools for inner growth and healing to ground you in your own innate wisdom, needs and desires. I'd love to support you along your journey ~ come connect!”

Corinna studied extensively with various world-renowned teachers  before launching Red Moon Herbs, which has consistently carried out its mission of providing safe, effective and abundant herbal remedies to the community for over twenty years. Corinna directed the late Southeast Wise Women’s Herbal Conference, which was one of the largest women’s herb gatherings in the US.

4. Rosemary Gladstar

Rosemary GladstarIf there’s one name that nearly everyone in the ‘herbie’ world knows, it’s probably that of Rosemary Gladstar. But not only is it a nice name to know (who doesn’t like rosemary, after all?), she herself is a wealth of inspiration and encouragement to all wise women who walk along the healer’s path. To list the accomplishments of someone like Rosemary is beyond our scope, but let’s just say the books of Rosemary Gladstar are to some a sort of “gateway” into herbal medicine.

Got a friend who wants to start making body care products for herself and her family, but doesn’t know anything about herbs? Give her Rosemary’s book. Have a buddy who gets indigestion after eating and wants to do something about it, naturally? Give them Rosemary’s book. Her writings are beautiful, easy to understand, and accessible, no matter your level of expertise.

Rosemary also acts as an advocate for the endangered and rare plants of the world. She is the founding energy behind United Plant Savers, an organization that raises awareness for and protects exotic species. Her work in this area has spurred a widespread movement towards using as many local and widely growing plants as possible, whenever we can.

Rosemary will be coming to speak to us in October at the Southeast Wise Women’s conference. As a headliner, she will be speaking on some of her favorite remedies and recipes with us, as well as sharing her thoughts on Preserving our Herbal Traditions.