Cherokee Medicine Woods

Bloomington Springs, TN
Sanctuary Steward: Lisa Bedner, RN, AHG

My heart is full that these 23 acres have been added to the UpS Botanical Sanctuary Network. Many Native American Nations once shared this area of Middle Tennessee near Cookeville as a source of plant medicines. The elders have told me that when the Cherokee and others were forced to move further north and east, that there were many medicine plants they could no longer find in the mountains. Medicine women traveled with gathering parties to this area to find the needed plants. As a member of one of the Native American nomadic tribes, the Teehahnahmah, I was taught that our healers knew to come here for the medicine plants.

The uneven terrain makes the wonderful gifts of this land even greater. The land is covered with natural woods, steep inclines, heavy clay soils and very rocky ground. This has prevented developers from clearing and building here in rugged Jackson County. As a result of this, and the natural geological protection of being located just inside the dip of the highland rim, the natural flora has been essentially untouched for generations. There are only about seven acres cleared for hay and herbal harvest. The land is rich with blue cohosh, solomon seal, wild yam, baneberry, bloodroot, wild ginger, trillium, snakeroot, greenbrier, lobelia, passionflower, milkweed, butterfly weed, joe pye, and many more. Since I began to care for this place in 1983, I have replanted species that have been dug out: ginseng, black cohosh, partridge berry, lyre leaf, goldenseal, cherokee mint, and others.

Medicine Woods is the home of Pipsissewa Herbs, a healing, teaching, and growing center. We have organically grown medicine herbs and greenhouses with starter plants for others. Seed is gathered each year for sale and propagation. We carry a line of herbal medicine salves and products, made in the traditional way and create custom medicines for individual use and alternative healers. (You can view more about Pipsissewa herbs at As a traditional healer, Medicine Woman of the Turtle Clan, and AHG certified practitioner, I know first hand the importance of saving and maintaining these plants for medicine. I also teach classes and workshops in herbal medicine and traditional Native American healing. In spring and summer we offer tours of the many display gardens, herb beds, and wild plants.

We have been fortunate to host many visitors in past years, from elementary school groups to Senior Citizen garden clubs. I am grateful each day to be in my home here in Cherokee Medicine Woods with the plants and trees, deer and other four-leggeds, the winged ones, the small crawlies and especially the little people, the fairies, and the plant spirits. I am honored to carry on the teachings of the Earth Mother. Creator has blessed me as well with a wonderful partner, Stephen, as well as the occasional help of my sister and others to keep the medicines flowing.