Jim Duke’s Lexicon: A Personal Tribute to My Teacher and His Way with Words

IN MEMORIAM Dr. James Duke (1929-2017)

by Mimi Hernandez, MS, RH (AHG), AHG Executive Director

 One thing that always inspired me about Jim Duke was his way with the lexicon. His words lit up my mind all over, much like the “herbal shotgun” of which he so often preached. Jim Duke could play with words in so many ways. Many of us knew him as the witty herbal folk singer of the Herbalbum.

He encouraged me to write songs too – one time he surprised me at Wild Herb Weekend in North Carolina by jumping on stage and singing backup while playing his fiddle as I performed my Appalachian ditty. This is my most treasured memory of him. You can see an excerpt of one of his songs below.

One of the reasons I first started following Jim Duke’s work and ultimately became his student groupie is because I loved his book, The Green Pharmacy. I experimented with a lot of the remedies in the book and I was able to share tips from the Spanish translated edition, La Farmacia Natural, with my Spanish-speaking aunts. The book said to rub cayenne on an achy joint, so once I vigorously rubbed fresh Capsicum onto my sore foot, only to curse when my foot was on fire for hours! It did heal the pain for good though.

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