Tommie Bass

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Arthur Lee "Tommie" Bass (January 24, 1908 – August 28, 1996)[1] was an Appalachian herbalist who lived near Lookout Mountain, Alabama. At the time of his death at age 88 on August 31, 1996, Bass, was one of the best-known local herbalists in the United States. He was profiled on the pages of the Wall Street Journal in 1985,[2] subject of a film on his life,[3] interviewed on national television, subject of a master's thesis[4] and subject of scholarly and popular books.[5][6][7] Tommie’s immense knowledge of herbal lore encompassed more than 300 local plants in his personal pharmacopoeia and others that might not be useful to "give ease" to others.[8] He was well known for his tinctures, salves and compounds.[9]

To quote his apprentice, Darryl Patton:

There are many ‘Herbalists’ around recommending all sorts of strange herbal treatments. But they have absolutely no knowledge of what a medicinal plant looks like in the woods and outside of a bottle. These herbal “pharmacists” come and go like every other fad. Tommie and those who follow in his footsteps will continue to use simple herbs for healing.[10]


  1. ^ "ARTHUR BASS (1908-1996)", Social Security Death Index
  2. ^ Williams, Linda. Doctors May Frown, But Hill People Say Herbalist 'Gives Ease'; Tommie Bass, 77, Even Lures Folklorists and Academics To a Leesburg, Ala., Shack. Wall Street Journal, July 8, 1985. p. 1 (2 pages)
  3. ^ FolkStreams » Tommie Bass
  4. ^ Tullos, Allen. Tommie Bass: a Life in the Ridge and Valley Country, MA Thesis, Curriculum in Folklore, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1976.
  5. ^ Bass, A. L Tommie. Wintertime for a Backwoodsman: Reminiscences of A. L. Tommie bass of Leesburg, Alabama (Printed by John K. Crellin, Jane Philpottl, and A. L. Tommie Bass: Chapel Hill, North Carolina: 1983)
  6. ^ Crellin, John K., Jane Philpott, and A. L. Tommie Bass. 1997 [1990]. Trying to Give Ease: Tommie Bass and the Story of Herbal Medicine. Durham : Duke University Press. 335 pp
  7. ^ Patton, Darryl. Tommie Bass: Herb Doctor of Shinbone Ridge (np: Back to Nature Publications, 1988)
  8. ^ Crellin, John K., and Jane Philpott. 1997 [1990]. A Reference Guide to Medicinal Plants: Herbal Medicine Past and Present [based on the practice of herbalist A.L. "Tommie" Bass]. Durham : Duke University Press. 551 pp. (Previously published as vol. 2 of Herbal Medicine Past and Present)
  9. ^ Patton, Darryl Mountain Medicine, The Herbal Remedies of Tommie Bass
  10. ^ Darryl Patton. Herbal Mountain Medicine: The Healing Remedies of Tommie Bass

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