Natural Healing — Pericón

Tagetes lucida Photo credit: Dick Culbert

Pericón (Tagetes lucida) is also known as, hierbanís, cuchrucumín, flor de Santa María, hierba añil, periquillo, yerbanís, Mexican tarragon in English, yauhtli in Nahuatl, and Naná uarhi in Purépecha. It is native to Mexico and in the same family as the more well-known cempasúchil (Tagetes erecta). The Aztecs used it in cooking, as medicine, and in rituals. It was an ingredient to the sacred drink chocolatl and still added to chayote and elotes (boiled corn ears) for flavoring. As it was considered holy to Tlaloc, the rain god, it was rubbed on the chest to ensure safety before crossing a river. It was closely associated with the harvest because it is found after the first rains of the season and blooms around the time the corn is ready to harvest.

After the conquest, pericón became associated with San Miguel (Michael the Archangel). In many areas, it is customary to place crosses made from the plant in each corner of la milpa (cornfield) and on doors to homes and businesses on September 28 to invoke the protection of San Miguel as part of the periconeada (also known as la Fiesta del Pericón) ceremony. September 29 is the feast day of the three archangels, Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael.  

Medicinally, pericón is prescribed as a tonic for diarrhea, empacho (indigestion), asthma, colds, rheumatism, susto (a nervous disorder), and to regulate menstruation in Mexico

An infusion for stuffy noses is made with a handful of leaves in a quart of water. Another tea for fever includes the stems, leaves, and flowers. Dried plants are often burned to keep flies and mosquitoes away from an area.

Pericón has anti-inflammatory, antihypertensive, antispasmodic, antidiarrheal, antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant, antimicrobial, antinociceptive, antidepressant, and sedative-like properties. These components support its traditional use for some nervous and digestive disorders. Additionally, it is a potent hepatoprotective and effective against Streptococcus pyogenes respiratory diseases.

Note: The name hierba anís is used for three related plants, Tagetes lucida, Tagetes filifolia, and Tagetes micrantha in different areas of Mexico. Be sure to positively identify the plant before use.

Pericón Infusion for Stuffy Nose

3-5 tablespoons of pericón leaves

Simmer the leaves in a quart of water. Allow it to steep for 10 minutes. Strain and sip throughout the day to alleviate a stuffy nose.

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Interested in health? Learn traditional Mexican plant remedies used today for wellness in the Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico series. Now available on Amazon!

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Filed under Health, Native fauna and flora, Natural Healing

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