***Interested in natural remedies? Uncover herbal remedies from traditional Mexican sources for healing and wellness in the Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico series.
Natural Healing — Huizache
La Yacata, being the dry, rocky land that it is, plays host to the huizache. When it flowers in the spring, it can cause allergies, but the benefits of this plant far outweigh the few weeks of sniffling. You also should take care that the long thorns don’t scratch you. In some parts of Mexico, this tree is called espina divina (divine thorn) and with good reason! They are certainly worth a healthy dose of respect in my book. In fact, in many crucifixion reenactments during Semana Santa (Holy Week) Jesus’ crown of thorns is made from huizache branches. Huizache (also spelled huisache or guizache) or Sweet Acacia has several botanical names which cause some confusion but the three most common are acacia farnesiana, mimosa farnesiana, and vachellia farnesiana. The flowers are used to create the perfume Cassie. The sap is used as glue. The bark has long been used for its tannin. A black dye is obtained also from the bark. Bernardino de Sahagún reported that seed pods were considered aphrodisiac in nature by the indigenous people in Mexico and that flowers of the tree were used for a headache remedy. The seed pods are antioxidant and topical anti-inflammatory agents. Animals, including cattle, sheep, and goats, that eat seed pods transfer the antioxidant properties to their milk. Our goats love huizache! Extracts from the seed pods are used to treat dysentery and tuberculous and are also effective in treating cholera. A mouthwash for sore gums is made with an infusion of leaves, flowers, and stems. A tea decoction made from the same parts of the plant is traditionally prescribed to reduce excess phlegm. Dried leaves can be applied directly to sores. Vaginal infections can be treated by combining leaves, flowers, and roots simmered to make douche or sitz bath. Overall, the huizache is quite a useful plant to have around!
Filed under Health, Native fauna and flora, Natural Healing