When I was 5 or 6, I got chickenpox. I don’t remember much about the experience except that I had blisters in my ears, inside of my nose, and all over my torso. I was an itchy, grumpy mess for about a week. I do remember my dear sweet mama and Grandma Mildred trying to comfort and heal me in their own ways. My mother, a high school teacher with a college degree, relied on Western science to tell her how to cure me. My Grandma Mildred, who had been raised in rural Appalachia, adhered to what she had learned from her mother and grandmother, which was a vast array of ethnobotanical knowledge of the herbs and plants found in the hills of southern Ohio. As a little kid, I can’t say that I had an understanding of how these two amazing women negotiated how they were going to nurse me back to health, except to say that they admired and respected each other’s knowledge about how the world worked.
Read more on TSPR here: Commentary: Vaccines