In a remote location, off Smoke Camp Road in Lewis County, W. Va., lives a “wise woman.”
Not only wise, but smart too, with degrees in agronomy and botany.
“I can vouch for this because I’ve been taking it for, well, 25 years,” Dot Montgillion said.
Montgillion, 82, contends that Poke Berries provide relief from arthritis.
“Now, if I stop taking Poke Berries, it comes back. It’s not a cure,” Montgillion said.
Decades ago, Montgillion and her husband Bob, 86, settled in West Virginia and turned her love of science as a girl and a “passion for digging in the dirt” into growing herbs for nutrition and medicine.
“And a lot of people were using weeds as home remedies, and I learned from them,” Montgillion said.
One thing she learned was to use Jewel Weed for poison ivy.
Another was a nutritional supplement for controlling blood glucose levels in diabetes.
“I put it in a formula along with turmeric and cinnamon,” Montgillion said.
Montgillion’s workshop is located in a 104-year-old cabin on the property where she whips up her jellies and Road Kill Jam made of apples, raspberries and black walnuts. She also makes her formulations and dries her herbs.
Montgillion said a woman with asthma drove from Morgantown in a snowstorm for a bag of her Mullein.
“It had done her more good than all the medicines she had taken over the years for asthma,” Montgillion said.
She admits that her successes are anecdotal and not based in research. However, she said more nurses and doctors are now getting in touch with herbal associations.
“I don’t know if they want to know the enemy or what it is,” Montgillion said.
“I certainly have a lot of respect for people who have devoted their lives and studies to this,” Dr. Ronald Glick said.
Dr. Glick is the medical director of UPMC’s Center for Integrative Medicine in Shadyside where herbs and supplements are being recommended.
“The research has really caught up to show that Omega-3 fatty acids are helpful for a lot of conditions,” Dr. Glick said.
One use is to prevent heart disease as a benefit for blood pressure and lipids.
About every five years, Dr. Glick sees a shift as research becomes available.
Co-enzyme Q-10 is showing promise in making the heart pump better, boosting the immune system and for Parkinson’s Disease.
The National Institutes of Health are finding that butterbur may be a real blessing for easing migraine headaches.
“And the preliminary research shows that it’s as helpful, or possibly more helpful than some of the migraine medicines,” Dr. Glick said.
However, before trying anything in spite of the promise these herbs and supplements may hold, both Montgillion and Dr. Glick said that health history and other homework must be factored in.