Appalachia Appalachian Medicine Wildflowers & Trees Of Appalachia

Yellow Root

Yellow Root for medicinal purposes

A few weeks ago, I ran into Carolyn Anderson at Brasstown’s Wednesday Farmer’s Market. Carolyn was selling a mixture of fresh produce from her garden and things she had already canned. Along with those goodies she was also selling other natural items she had collected herself-including dried yellow root.


Yellow root grows along creeks and other waterways in my area of Appalachia. Carolyn shared the many ways yellow root can be used medicinally with me. I knew about one of the ways, but not the others.

  • Yellow root tea can be used for stomach aliments. Use dried or fresh yellow root to make a tea-use 1/4 oz. yellow root to 16 ozs. of water. Strain the tea and allow it too cool before drinking. Drink a little of the tea when symptoms occur-storing the rest in the frig for later use.
  • A salve made with yellow root can be used to heal dry skin or chapped lips.
  • Yellow root can be used to heal mouth ulcers, gum disease, and sore throats. Carolyn said to infuse a cup of water with 1 or 2 teaspoons of dried yellow root and then gargle with the mixture for a few minutes. This is the only use I am familiar with. The week before The Deer Hunter and I got married I had terrible mouth ulcers-looking back it was probably from nerves. My mouth hurt so bad I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to say I do! Pap went to the creek and dug up some yellow root for me. He made a tea out of the fresh roots and I went around with it in my mouth for what seemed like forever! It tastes HORRIBLE! But it seemed help.
  • Crush dried yellow root and sprinkle into cuts or abrasions to prevent infection.

I find natural remedies fascinating! If you have any knowledge of yellow root please tell me about it. And if you’re in the area, go by the Brasstown Farmer’s Market and see Carolyn. Tell her I sent you. Carolyn’s family and mine have been neighbors and friends for generations.

The Brasstown Farmer’s Market is open every Wednesday from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.


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  • Reply
    Danella Watkins
    March 22, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    I so much enjoyed reading the comments, as I love the part of the country where you reside.
    I live in the city, but venture as much as I can back to the former days that I so appreciate . I’m an herbalist as a result of a former back in the day elderly lady taught me first hand about the herbs that has been circulating on this page, that has been 25 years ago now. We were in rural Mississippi at the time, and I was visiting, when I heard her personal testimony about her life, and the words spoken that changed my life, and that was for 40 years she had no need to take medicine. I asked her to set aside some time to talk with me about the no need for medicine, and I wasn’t sickly, or sick. Her name was Mrs. Darnella magee, who lived to a ripe old age, and has now passed away. She did for me more than I could have ever expected. 25 years ago now, upon my return home, I started a IT’s Your Health Business, wild foraging herbs, and making pure health extracts, that have had very effective health benefits on the consumers. I’m located at The Historic Soulard’s Farmers Market, St.Louis, Mo. FYI: I invite you to visit my instagram page to see and hear some MARVELOUS testimonies. _itsyourhealth

  • Reply
    Fay Pitts
    September 27, 2019 at 7:15 am

    I remember the yellow root growing down in the swamp and I loved going with Mama to pick some for medicinal purposes. It was good for a sore throat. I can’t find it where I live now, but when I visit in Ga. I know a place where it grows and I always bring some back home. I love Sassafras tea too, but I can’t find any growing here here. The kind in the health food stores is okay, but not as good as the fresh kind. This brings back so many good memories of my younger days growing up with my family.

  • Reply
    Robert Calloway
    September 27, 2019 at 2:11 am

    We chew on a small piece of dried yellow root to help with heartburn. Bitter, but it works.

  • Reply
    Martin Buuri Kaburia
    June 30, 2017 at 7:56 am

    some of these herbs really work, but requires an expert to identify

  • Reply
    September 26, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Tipper, Entertaining comments on this one. Yeah, mill hill folk use yellow root the same way. I have some out in the carport drying this week. I think it helps to heal mouth ulcers and fever blisters lickety split.

    • Reply
      gloria alexander
      February 11, 2019 at 8:45 am

      Carol, did you scrub and wash the roots in water well before drying them? I have not been sure how to clean them of our clay soil proper before drying. Also, once dry how do you make a powder from the roots, they are so tough? I have only used root cut in pieces so far. Thanks…..Gloria

  • Reply
    Janice Stout
    September 25, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    I never heard of a plant called yellow root that grew by the water, but when I saw your picture I immediately thought of my barberry plants (most prickly thing to work with 🙁 ) I never thought about it possibly being medicinal. A great read as usual. Waiting to see who volunteers to put cow splatter on their face as a mask. LOL

  • Reply
    September 25, 2014 at 6:28 am

    Yep that about sums it up : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Popcorn Sumbody
    September 24, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    Ron – If you take the corn liquor about 30 minutes prior to the yellow root, it has a more neutral taste or maybe you won’t need it at all.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    September 24, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    Yellowroot tea = green persimmons on steroids

  • Reply
    September 24, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    I tried Yellow Root once for an upset stomach,, yuck I couldn’t stand it,, I think it just took your mind off one problem and put it some where else,, like the taste…

  • Reply
    Bertha Day
    September 24, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t your girl twins made their very first appearance in Gainesville on September 25th.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 24, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    The medicinal effect of Yellow Root could be from berberine which is also present in Goldenseal and Barberry. Berberine can be poisonous in high doses but has many therapeutic benefits in smaller doses according to herbalists and some doctors who dare to defy the pharmaceutical industry. (This is not copy and paste, I wrote it myself.)
    Last spring I took my truck and a log chain and pulled up an overgrown and sawbriar infested barberry bush. I noticed at the time how bright yellow the stems and especially the roots were when broken. I didn’t think anymore about it until your post today. I got to reading about yellow herbs and came up with berberine as a common denominator.
    Turmeric is another yellow herb that might contain berberine, I’m not sure, but I do know it helps in the making of yellow mustard and some yummy pickles.

  • Reply
    Bessie Bovine
    September 24, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    I have heard that fresh cow splatter applied to the face like a masque will remove freckles. You just have to be careful not to get it in your eyes or on your lips. If the cow has been consuming bright green forage, you might want to wait a day or two as it could cause staining. I don’t have freckles but do have a few liver spots. I was wondering if anyone had tried this remedy and could tell me how well it worked.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    September 24, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    I’ve never used Yellow Root as a
    tonic or anything, but I have known
    about it all my life. As a boy, I
    chewed on Sassafras and Birch twigs
    a lot…Ken

  • Reply
    September 24, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    I’m curious about the plant attached to the roots! I haven’t heard anything called yellow root up here in New England, but common names can vary so much that doesn’t mean it isn’t here. I’m hoping someone will chime in with the botanical name 🙂

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    September 24, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    I knew yellow root was good for stomach problems. It’s pretty easy to find around here. It is not pleasant tasting. Someone told once to make a tonic with yellow root and corn liquor to gargle with if you have a sore throat.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 24, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Tip, I’ve heard of yellow root but I’ve never used it. I’m happy to have the information.
    I often wish I knew more about herbal healing but so far have not made a study of it.

  • Reply
    eva nell wike, PhD
    September 24, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Tipper: Wish we could make your performance in Gainsvillebut we will be at the Luie Bluie Festival up at COVE LAKE for the whole day! Hope your event goes well.
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    September 24, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Yellow root! It is confused a great deal with the herb, goldenseal. WV has a magazine named Goldenseal, which is chock full of herbs, recipes, customs etc. My Mom was so very proud of her Yellow Root, as she hung to many of the old ways and customs. I am ashamed that I didn’t try to learn more about our mountain herbs and customs. I have drank many glasses of homemade sassafras tea, and we once roasted dandelion roots to use in a coffee-like drink.
    I know many of us look forward to whatever surprise you have waiting for us on your blog, Tipper. This took my mind back to a time when we sometimes had herbs for tonics. No Springtime was complete without a mess of wild greens, and how I loved gathering sassafras with my Mom. She would mention yellow root casually when in conversation with neighbors.
    Dad’s Grandfather shared an old remedy with him, but Dad was never supposed to tell the remedy. I certainly wish I had tried harder to coax him to share that secret.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    September 24, 2014 at 10:13 am

    My Dad died in ’89 not from using any herbal remedies, but his body just wore out. His local doctor was a man born from family of WNC mountains and was familiar with a lot of folk remedies. He told him one time if he used Comfrey and vinegar as a flush on occasion and of course drink more water it would help deter his kidney stones that came around every year or so. He never had stones the last 10 years that he lived! Mom had a huge Comfrey plant by the back door!
    Mom was a believer in Sassafras, as was her Mother and Grandmother.
    Mom died at 93 a few years ago!
    She sweetened hers with honey! I would drink a cup when she made it, I never was able to get mind to taste like hers. Of course, I read that it was banned in medicines and flavors so I quit trying to make the tea the old timey way.
    I have heard both of them speak of yellow root and creases used especially in the spring as a tonic! Creases and Polk was also cooked in the spring for cleansing in my husbands family.
    I pick Polk for cooking and love it, with a boiled cut up egg in it like the old timers made spinach. Tastes a lot like spinach. I am careful where I pick my Polk Salad! Cow patties splatter you know…ewwwww!!
    Back in the day our grocery store here carried little bundles of yellow root and sassafras…NO MORE! Those were the good old days!
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS….Cabbage leaves are good for gouty arthritis, boiled and places soft on the area! Cherry juice as well.

  • Reply
    September 24, 2014 at 10:04 am

    That was very interesting. I’m not sure I would be able to pick it out along the water bank. Does it flower or have a particular type of leaf or just a look like root shape? My dad used to use a combo of brown soap and sugar as a drawing salve for infections or splinters.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    September 24, 2014 at 8:40 am

    What good timing, Tipper! I’m trying to help one of the persons I “mentor” on writing short stories, and he is now in need of medicinal herb remedies for use in the short story he’s working on now. I have gone online to find some mountain herbs and their uses. Thanks for this reminder of yellow root. My grandmother used yellow root in her herbal remedies!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    September 24, 2014 at 7:46 am

    I have never heard of yellow root, it must not grow in FL or has another name. Looking forward to hearing more about medicinal plants. For those of us not familiar with the common name it would be helpful if you could share the botanical name too. Thanks

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