In Trying to Give Ease, John K. Crellin and Jane Philpott focus on the life, practices, and accumulated knowledge of the late A. L. "Tommie" Bass, a widely known and admired Appalachian herbalist. Informed by insights drawn from several disciplines, particularly anthropology, their broad historical analyses of self-care practices and herbal remedies draw heavily on recorded interviews with Bass and his patients. Special attention is given to local resources that shape alternative medicine, the backgrounds of herbal practitioners, and the cultural currency of medical concepts once central to professional medicine and now less common. The authors report on both the physical effects of herbal remedies and the psychological factors that have an impact on their success. Trying to Give Ease is a companion to A Reference Guide to Medicinal Plants, also published by Duke University Press.
John K. Crellin, Clinch Professor of the History of Medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland, is a physician, pharmacist, and historian. His books include Medical Ceramics in the Wellcome Institute and Home Medicine: The Newfoundland Experience. Before her death in 1997, Jane Philpott was Professor Emerita in the Department of Botany and the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Duke University.