Natural Healing — Muicle

Photo credit: Jim Evans

Muicle (Justicia spicigera) has a whole host of names throughout Mexico. Mexican honeysuckle, as it is known in English, is also called añil de piedra, hierba azul, hierba púrpura, trompetilla, and muitle. In the indigenous languages and regions in Mexico, it is called me tzi ña in Oaxaca, mouait in Tepehua, muu in Tenek, cruz k’aax in Yucatán, limanin in Totonaco, xoicpoxihuitl in Nahuatl, and ych-kaan in Maya.

This native Mexican bush grows to about 3 feet high and attracts hummingbirds and other pollinators with its trumpet-like orange or red flowers. I was first introduced to this plant by my sister-in-law who boiled a batch of the leaves for my husband to drink as a detoxification concoction. The juice is purple and has long been used to make a blue dye. Interestingly, this dye has been used for centuries for ceremonial tortillas. More recently, scientists have proposed its use to increase the nutritional value and reduce the starchiness of commercially produced tortillas. 

In addition to detoxification, muicle is prescribed for diarrhea, menstrual cramps or delayed menstruation, cancer, diabetes, as a postpartum cleansing, susto (anxiety or nervous disorders), cough, and as a disinfectant. Most remedies consist of boiling the branches, leaves, and flowers. For a headache accompanied by fever, the leaves are crushed and made into a poultice placed on the forehead. For cough, the crushed leaves are steeped in water overnight and the resulting infusion is drunk instead of water.

For skin treatments, crushed leaves are boiled with leaves from the capulín (Prunus salicifolia), aguacate (Persea americana), guayaba (Psidium guajava) and ajo (garlic) cloves.

Studies show that muicle is analgesic, antibacterial, antitumor, antimicrobial, antiparasitic, and antifungal. It also has shown promise in controlling epilepsy. It reduces the sensation of pain without a sedation effect. It has glucose lowering effects supporting its use as a diabetic treatment. Muicle is also as effective as valium when it comes to anxiety reduction, reduction of seizures, restless leg syndrome, and alcohol/narcotics withdrawal. It has been shown to have immunomodulatory properties. It’s chemopreventative and inhibits edema. Although muicle is often prescribed for hypertension in Mexico, there hasn’t been any scientific support for this use.

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Interested in natural remedies? Uncover herbal remedies from traditional Mexican sources for healing and wellness in the Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico series.

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Filed under Health, Native fauna and flora, Natural Healing

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