Natural Healing–Wandering Jew Matali tea


My interest was piqued one day at the tianguis (flea market) in Valle de Santiago when the elderly woman wrapped in her dark blue rebozo against the cold that sold us the plant (for 10 pesos). She mentioned that this plant, which I knew as Wandering Jew, was called “Sin Verguenza” (Without shame) because it propagates without any special care whatsoever.  She then said that it was good for treating diarrhea.  I had not heard anything ever before about medicinal uses of Tradescantia zebrina, so when I began my Herbal Materia Medica course through Herbal Academy, I added it to the list of herbs I wanted to investigate more thoroughly.

Before I had even begun my investigation, my husband plucked and ate a leaf as a cure for his upset stomach one day.  As he didn’t die, and in fact, felt much better, I thought there might be something to this old wives’ tale.

I found out that Tradescantia zebrina was native to Mexico. However, I didn’t find anything in English about its medicinal use except a vague reference to a tea made from its leaves called Matali. So that’s what I searched for.  Bingo!  Youtube video and everything!  Matali is a tea common in Tabasco used for treatment for urinary infections and kidney issues.  

The preparation in the video was far from exact, so I tried digging deeper.  One recipe for a kidney cleanse instructed boiling the leaves in water and allowing it to cool.  Add lemon juice and honey.  

There was no mention on how many leaves or how long to boil the concoction.  

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one looking for this recipe.  Yahoo respuestas led me to yet another recipe.  There I was told that there is no exact number of leaves used in making the tea.  Boil some, taste, and if it seems weak, add some more leaves.  If it is too strong, add more water to dilute the tea.  Okie Dokie.

There was a separate recipe for dysentery treatment. An unspecified number of leaves should be crushed with a bit of water. The mixture should then be strained.  Mountain honey (the best I could figure miel de monte translates as) and lemon juice are added.  This tea should be drunk 3 times a day for the duration of the illness.

Much to my surprise, I found the Chinese Traditional Medicine also listed a tea made from the Wandering Jew for stomach ailments.  In Chinese, this plant is called Shui Gui Cao (Water Turtle Grass) and is recommended for kidney issues.  Here I found some harvesting advice (don’t touch the sap because it might cause skin irritation) and a description of what the tea tastes like “slightly tasteless with a light herbal aroma having a purple/pink color after being boiled for a few hours.”

A few HOURS?  Well, that’s still not specific enough.  So I kept searching.

Finally, I found a site that gave a more precise recipe.   Use 200 g each time.  Soak 15 pieces of red dates in a container.  Wash the Shui Gui Cao 3 times.  Boil 1.5 liters of water.  Add the Shui Gui Cao, red dates and 12 slices of ginger.  Cook on low heat for 1.5 hours.  Add brown sugar for sweetness.  It can be reheated for maximum benefits.  Drink 2 to 3 hours after eating or on an empty stomach for best results.  

Another site gave the same recipe, however, cautioned not to use an aluminum pot to make the tea since it would cause a chemical reaction and result in a slow form of poisoning.  Ok.  Good to know!

There were quite a few things this tea was accredited to cure including bladder problems, piles, uric acid, blood in the stool, pulmonary tuberculosis, cough, kidney infection, poisonous snake bite, vaginal discharge, urinary infection, hemoptysis, nephritis dropsy, acute conjunctivitis, swollen larynx, even diabetes.

The diabetes cure had a recipe too.  Make a cup of tea using 3 leaves.  Drink 3 cups per day.  If making the tea is too bothersome, you can just eat one leaf 3 times per day.

I wasn’t the only person to look deeper into medicinal use of the Wandering Jew plant. One study showed that a methanolic leaf extract from the Tradescantia zebrina plant had the highest antioxidant content of the plants studied.  Antioxidants are good.   Dr. Jim Duke’s Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Database cited a 1969 study by Maximino Martinez listing this plant as a treatment for dysentery.


Well, with this information, it was time to make matali myself.  I boiled a handful of leaves for 2 hours as instructed and got weak tea colored water. It wasn’t pink.  And it tasted like, well, boiled water.  So maybe I didn’t put enough leaves in it.  I thought I’d try just making a cup with 3 leaves.

I choose leaves with the purplest underside, boiled the water and added the leaves.  AND….the water turned out exactly the same color.  I sampled it, and it was tasteless, although I did notice my tongue had a thin coating of blah afterward, so much so that I went and brushed my teeth and tongue to get rid of the feeling.  

I was disappointed, so say the least.  Apparently, there is something I am doing that prohibits the pink color of matali tea. I’m wondering if it is the species of Wandering Jew that I am using?  Perhaps if I used the full purple leaf variety rather than the variegated plant, the tea would turn the promised pink color.  Has anyone been successful?  Do tell!



This post was proofread by Grammarly.



Filed under Mexican Food and Drink, Native fauna and flora, Natural Healing

Mid-year goals update

In January, inspired by Monique Alvarez, I made a list of goals for 2017.   Mid-point through the year, I thought I’d let you know how I’m doing in manifesting these aims.

Push yourself past where you think you can go. Surprise yourself with what you can accomplish. Cherish your uniqueness. Create your world and fill it with all the things that make you ha

Blogging goals

  • Create 52 memes from my Instagram photos.  Replace memes on my blog with my own.  Share once a week. So I didn’t get 52 done, but I did get some done, like the one above. Isn’t it lovely?
  • Find linkys and link up. Completed for January, February, March, May and June with SOTBS Bloggers. (See New Year’s Resolutions, Thank your lucky chickens, Why I choose Mexico, Discovering Permaculture, Flavors of Mexico)
  • Have a blog post ready for every week over the course of the year. Publish on Mondays.  January, February, March success.  April a post every day. May, June, July twice a week.  Some weeks I managed a post a day!
  • Complete the A to Z Blogging Challenge in April. Done!
  • Search out women authors in Mexico to feature once a month.  January-July scheduled. (See Inspirational Women)
  • Update astore.  😦 Nope.  Didn’t get to this one yet!  However since this will be discontinued by Amazon in a few months, it’s just as well.
  • Pin at least one picture from each blog post to Pinterest. Completed!
  • Add disclosure statement. Which caused a huge disaster when sharing to Facebook and required the addition of featured images to every single post!  I’m still working on fixing this!
  • Have a post per day on my Facebook page at least a month scheduled in advance. Good through June 31.
  • Write an ebook.  Worked on it, but haven’t finished.
  • Change affiliate links from text to banner links.  Work in progress!
  • Instigate a Blogs about Mexico Worth Reading series.  The June was a great success.  Look for more featured blogs in July and August!

Income generating goals

  • Find income totaling $250 USD per month to replace school job before July. Became a book reviewer.  Revenue estimated at $50 per month.  So I’m not quite there yet. I’ve also begun ghostwriting at a women’s Prepper site.  Look for more information on that coming soon!
  • Complete proofreading course.  Took Herbal Medica Course and Introduction to Permaculture courses instead.
  • Quit the elementary school  Hasn’t happened yet.

Goals for the house in Sunflower Valley

Goals for the house in La Yacata

  • Get beginners solar electricity setup, finish wiring installation on the second floor, get light fixtures I did find a contractor to buy these things from and have an estimate.  Now I have to save enough pesos to make it a reality.  I’m still hoping this will happen by the end of the year.
  • Finish patching the second floor As this is dependent on my husband, it’s been slow going.  The first layer is completed on the walls.  It still needs a second layer, and the ceiling finished.
  • Get tile for the back room, laundry room, second floor Not happening until the first two are complete.
  • Get under stairs closet, upstairs bathroom door, bedroom door, and handrail from carpenter Not happening until the first three are complete.

Schooling goals

  • Check out chef schoolMy son and I visited the school. It is currently on hold until he is enrolled in UVEG Online Preparatory.
  • Register for UVEGThis has to wait until he receives his secondary diploma in July.
  • A trip to Chichen Itza   Sigh.  I’m not sure when this is going to happen.

Bear in mind, these were the primary goals.  There are oodles of minor goals and goals that cropped up since January.  I feel like I’ve made some progress though.  How have your New Year’s Resolutions been coming along?


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June 22, 2017 · 12:52 pm

Flavors of Mexico

Life is full of the most natural of your eyesand take a momentto savor them.

When we first arrived in Mexico, my senses were overwhelmed with the sights, sounds, and tastes of my new home.  I was willing to try just about anything. I even managed to choke down the unpleasant bits in the name of experience.  Everything was incredible. Everything was fascinating.  It was a lot like falling in love.

As I’ve passed the 10-year mark here in Mexico, that initial euphoria has taken a nosedive.  I am no longer willing to gag on my life experiences for the greater good.  That doesn’t mean that Mexico still doesn’t inspire me to heights of great passion.  It does, but it’s not the same as when I first fell in love.

There’s a word in Spanish that I think foodies would understand.  Saborear.  Literally translated, it means to savor.  Saborear goes beyond that brief moment that the food actually touches your tongue.  To saborear something is to hold it in your mouth and experience the flavor and texture of the food, to enjoy the act of eating.  To seek out the individual nuances of the ingredients and ponder them separately and in conjunction with the other flavors.  It’s not a sandwich cramming type of lifestyle.

I’ve learned to saborear my life in Mexico, which means making more deliberate choices, now and in the future. Unfortunately, living here in Mexico is often much like Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Jellybeans of the wizarding world.  Sometimes you think you’ve chosen a nice toffee flavor and it turns out to be nothing more than ear wax. Alas!

Because of this alteration in life choices, my lifestyle over the past year has been undergoing some drastic changes.  (See A room of her own) I’m still in the transition process. I’ve made some headway as you’ll see in my Mid-year Goals update, but there are still some aspects I’m working on.  Meanwhile, I’ll saborear the moment I am in.

How do you saborear your life?


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