Category Archives: Native fauna and flora

Natural Healing–Guayaba Leaf Tea

tree

At the first sign of an upset stomach, my husband is out back plucking leaves off of our guayaba tree to make a tea.  I thought I’d do a little investigation on whether or not there was any validity to these stomach ailment treatment claims and here’s what I found out.

Psidium guajava, known as guayaba or guava, is native to Mexico and its fruit ranges from white or yellow to dark pink.  We have two different varieties growing in our backyard, the yellow and the light pink.  Both the fruit and the leaves are used in traditional medicine to treat diabetes, hypertension, cavities, diarrhea, rheumatism, lung disease, fever, and inflammation.

Digging a bit deeper into scientific studies, I found that the fruit (either eaten raw or made into juice) has antitumor and anti-cancer properties, is useful in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, and effective in lowering blood sugar, serum total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDLc while increasing HDLc levels.  Guava is also a natural antibacterial agent and antioxidant and beneficial in the treatment of cholera.

The guayaba leaf also has medicinal properties. It is cytotoxic, thus effective in the treatment of a variety of cancers. It protects against mercury toxicity, one of the causes of Alzheimer’s. Regular ingestion improves vascular function and regulates blood-glucose levels. It is effective in the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery as well as infections caused by the Candida fungi and  Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.

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My husband makes his stomachache tea from freshly picked young whole leaves.  He washes then boils them for about 10 minutes and that’s it. He drinks it without any sweetener, but you could add honey if you like.  The tea has an earthy taste to it.

I saw on another site, that you could make tea from dried and crushed leaves.  However, that takes 3-4 weeks and there seems to be no additional benefit to drying them.  Since we have a fresh source right outside our back door, we’ll stick with that.  Have you tried guayaba leaf tea?

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Surviving Mexico on Instagram

guadalajara mountains

Did you know that for the past few years I’ve been posting the natural landscapes and colors of central Mexico on Instagram?  Really.  I have nearly 600 pictures uploaded to the site.

blue morning glory

Recently I ordered prints of most of those snapshots and sent them to my mother to enjoy.  She doesn’t have an Instagram account.  She told me enjoy them she did!

fuzzy rock flower

I know the picture quality isn’t the best.  I’m using my phone after all and I am by no means a professional photographer. I did purchase my latest cell phone because of its improved quality photographs (it’s a Polaroid phone) But mostly, it helps that Mexico is breathtakingly beautiful.

amoles road

I take pictures of things that catch my eye, which are not necessarily things that are commonly considered attractive.  For instance, I took a picture of this hillside because it looked like an alligator to me.

alligator mountain

If you notice, there is not one single picture of me at Surviving Mexico on Instagram. Nope, I’m not a Selfie girl. Instead, what you will see, is Mexico through my eyes. Gorgeous, isn’t it?

purple water lilies

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Natural Remedies — Cherimoya

It’s that time again.  Walking in our backyard has become a hazard.  When you least expect it, heavy green fruit balls just might fall on your head.  So beware!

Our cherimoya, AKA chirimoya, chirmuya or custard apple, tree is loaded this year.   This strange name comes from the Quechua language and means “cold seeds” so called because the tree grows at altitudes of 1,300 to 2,600 m (4, 200 to 8,500 ft) and must have cooler weather periodically or will eventually go dormant.  There are several varieties of cherimoya.  The one in our backyard is the Annona cherimola.

You know a cherimoya is ripe when it has the consistency of a ripe avocado when squeezed, a bit mushy but is not yet brown and rotty. The peel and seeds are not edible.  In fact, the seeds are poisonous when crushed.  They contain small amounts of neurotoxic acetogenins like annonacin.  Dried seeds that have been ground into powder can be used to make a paste that can help get rid of hair lice.

Cherimoya tree bark extract is also dangerous.  If injected it can induce paralysis. I don’t know how anyone would have discovered that by accident, but it’s a useful fact to know. The leaves have long been used to treat hypercholesterolemia in Mexico and scientific study has confirmed that there is a basis for their use in treating high cholesterol. Cherimoya leaves have also been used traditionally in the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery and again, scientific studies confirm its use for those illnesses.

“We had an abundance of mangoes, papaias and bananas here, but the pride of the islands, the most delicious fruit known to men, cherimoya, was not in season. It has a soft pulp, like a

And oh, the taste!  Once you break open a cherimoya, the inside is creamy white. The riper it is, the sweeter and softer the texture.  While I’ve seen descriptions of the flavor ranging from banana to bubble gum, to me, it has a sweet, citrus flavor.  In fact, they are so sweet that I can’t eat more than one.

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There’s more to these huge ugly roundish fruits than meets the eye. Cherimoya is an excellent source of Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, fiber, and riboflavin.  It’s been proven to help with depression and to be suitable for the treatment of oxidative stress related disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Asperger syndrome, cancer, atherosclerosis, heart failure, myocardial infarction, Sickle Cell disease, autism, chronic fatigue syndrome, and even tempers the wear and tear of normal aging like wrinkles, osteoporosis and gray hair. Cherimoya has also been shown to be successful in the treatment of diabetes and gastrointestinal disorders.

The fruit is only in season a short time, in our area mid-September to November, so it’s best to eat what you can while the cherimoya is available.

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Rainy Season Foraging

I’ve already written about how foraging is part of our lifestyle. (See Gleaning) Our animals are taken out of their corrals and allowed free foraging daily.  Recently this mass exodus has not just been limited to the goats, sheep, and horse, but also the chickens, ducks, and rabbits delightedly head out to the tall grass for vittles.

When the Earth provides such abundance, it really is a sin against nature not to harvest its bounty (See Tunas, Pitayas, and Cactus) both man and beast.  Of course, each season brings its own flavors.  This past month, we did some rainy season foraging.

Not edible!

Lots of rain mean lots of mushrooms.  This year was hardly a bumper crop, but we did get a meal or two out of the mushrooms.  I always let my husband harvest these as I’m still a little unsure of choosing the right ones.  Both types of mushrooms that grow in droves during the rainy season look like partially opened umbrellas.  The edible mushrooms are pink underneath.  The poisonous ones are brown or white underneath.

Then there is this plant that my husband called toritos (little bulls).  I’m pretty sure that’s not its name.  The interior of the seed pods before it hardens up is edible. It tastes, well, beany.  Once the pods harden, they darken to an almost black color and two pointy prongs pop out at the end.  My husband and his brothers used these mature seed pods as bulls in their play way back when.

Another edible plant is what my husband calls quesitos (little cheeses) because once peeled it resembles a cheese wheel.  These are bitter in taste.  I’ll pass.

This pretty flower turns into tiny metallic colored berries.  They sort of taste like blueberries.  Apparently, there are several varieties of this plant differentiated by the flower color but all giving the same sort of berry.  Anyone know the name of this plant?

Stopping on our nature hike to take a picture in Los Amoles, I found tomatillo growing wild at my feet.  Tomatillo is used in all sorts of savory Mexican dishes.  It has a tart or tangy flavor to it.

Not edible!

The fruit developing on this plant is not to be eaten, according to my husband, although it bears an uncanny resemblance to a squash.

Verdolaga (purslane) is found year-round.  Cooked up it has the consistency of spinach with a sort of tangy taste.  It’s often used in green salsa.  

This plant is called Chichi de burra (Donkey boobs).  The pods are edible and taste like figs.

The tubular petals from this flower (Klip Dagga) have nectar that can be sucked out making it a favorite of chuparosas (rose suckers otherwise known as hummingbirds) and mariposas (butterflies).  They grow in large bunches under the mesquite tree near our house.  It’s my favorite place to be at the tail end of the rainy season.

This is not an all inclusive list of wild edibles by any means.  Every year, I learn a little bit more about the flora and fauna that surround me.  Where else can I get a glimpse of a mountain lion, a roadrunner, and fox in one day?  Where else do butterflies of every imaginable color and size flutter in clouds?  Where else are daily humdrum activities stopped with the glimpse of a hummingbird? La Yacata remains the place to be for me!

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