Category Archives: Native fauna and flora

The Mushroom Course by Herbal Academy

Hopefully, in the days to come, the world will be less interested in hoarding toilet paper and more focused on creating a healthier lifestyle that can withstand the viruses that plague us. One often overlooked source of important vitamins and minerals is the mushroom. 

Mushrooms have the same quantity of B-12 as meat. They contain linoleic acid, one of the two essential fatty acids that humans must get through their diet. They are a source of ergothioneine which has a powerful antioxidant. Mushrooms support your body’s healthy immune and inflammatory responses by improving the formation of the adaptive immunity system which eliminates or prevents the growth of pathogens. They also enhance the functionality of immune cells. 

You can find more information about mushrooms and immunity here. 

Would you like to learn more about mushrooms? Well, since you’re most likely in quarantine, why not consider an online class that explores the health benefits of mushrooms while you practice your social distancing skills?

The Herbal Academy has just opened The Mushroom Course for pre-registration. By registering now, you can save $50 on the regular course price and receive some great bonus offers as well. An optional upgrade will get you the Mushroom Foraging Kit so that you can set out and explore the wonderful world of mushrooms in your own area.  

The Mushroom Course will help you discover 20 common wild mushrooms that you can begin to include in your diet to boost your immune system. You’ll have the chance to explore the ecological relationship mushrooms have with the world and how that means a healthier place to live for everyone. 

This is an introductory to intermediate level course, so don’t worry if you haven’t studied much about these fascinating fungi before. It’s designed to allow you to become more familiar with their identification and biology and incorporate mushrooms into your healthy diet. 

Why not use this time you have been given to learn more about immunity and your diet?

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Natural Healing–La Miel Sagrada

As if you needed another reason to consume honey regularly, here’s a little bit of information about the sacred Melipona honey. 

gailhampshire from Cradley, Malvern, U.K [CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

The Maya used the honey from the native stingless bee Melipona beecheii extensively in their traditional remedies. They believed that illnesses that could be cured with this honey had supernatural origins. It was used to treat both “hot” and “cold” infirmities including respiratory and digestive ailments, cataracts, pterygium eye and conjunctivitis, as well as wounds, burns, fevers and poisonous stings and bites.

The reason supernatural illnesses could be treated with this honey was because they believed it was a sacred gift from the gods, specifically the bee god Ah Muzen Cab. The Maya communities continue to use this sacred honey to treat cancer, sinusitis, typhoid, laryngitis, bronchitis, cough, bacterial infections and postpartum issues. It has and continues to be used as a sweetener, an antibiotic and the main ingredient in the fermented drinks balché and Xtabentun.

When Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba first arrived in the Yucatan in 1517, he encountered enough bee yards producing honey that was traded throughout Mesoamerica. The importance of this activity is evidenced in the Madrid Codex, one of the four surviving Maya codices, which was devoted entirely to beekeeping.

Honey contains iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamins B1 to B8. It is antimicrobial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, making it ideal for pain alleviaion in the throat, and as a result of burns and ulcers. Applied topically, it will moisturize the skin and is beneficial in wound healing. Honey can help ameliorate thyroid disturbances and reduce the risk of developing diabetes as well as fight cancerous cells. 

Regular honey consumption lowers cholesterol and reduces the occurrence of cardiovascular disease. Honey can help alleviate dehydration and potassium loss caused by diarrhea. Furthermore, it aids in digestion and reduces issues caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

The amount of nutrients that honey contains varies according to the local plant source.To determine whether a particular batch of honey is pure, drop a spoonful into a glass of water. Adulterated honey dissolves, while pure honey remains in a ball. Honey can be stored at room temperature. If it crystallizes, setting it in a pan of hot water will liquidize it again.

Melipona honey is slightly different than honey made from other types of bees. It is more watery, less prone to crystallization and contains more fructose than glucose giving it a distinct taste. The honey from these stingless bees has more antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties than honey produced by stinging bees. 

The Melipona bees are in danger of extinction. The ecosystem which they have co-existed for centuries is being destroyed. They are also facing increasing competition with the Apis mellifera bees since commercial beekeepers prefer their more abundant honey production to the native species. If you are in the Yucatan, be sure to take advantage of the local sacred Melipona honey available to you.

Precaution: Honey should never be given to children under one year of age because it may cause botulism. 

Have you tried Melipona honey?

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What else did the indigenous of Mexico know about natural healing?

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Natural Healing–Árnica Mexicana

The other day, while perusing the teas at the market, I happened upon some Árnica tea. This intrigued me because I had only ever seen Árnica used in una pomada (ointment) for bruises and muscle pain. So off I went to do some investigation on the matter. 

Árnica Mexicana’s botanical name is Heterotheca inuloides and should not be confused with arnica montana which grows in Europe. In fact, one of the names of Heterotheca inuloides is false arnica, as the “true” arnica is arnica montana. Árnica Mexicana is native to Mexico and has been used medicinally for centuries by the indigenous people. It is also known as Árnica del país and in Nahuatl, Tlalyetl. 

Most commonly Árnica Mexicana is used to treat skin inflammations, rheumatism, muscular pain, menstrual cramps, and colic topically. However, it is also used for nervous disorders, dental issues, and gastrointestinal problems, hence the availability of the Árnica tea. 

Scientific studies have shown that Heterotheca inuloides contains antioxidants, and functions well as anti-tumor compound. It has been shown to effectively treat giardiasis, a stomach infection caused by the parasite Giardia lamblia found in contaminated water. Yet another study has demonstrated the positive effects of Árnica Mexicana and rosemary water extract on the dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain.

Other studies have demonstrated its topical benefits. Used externally, it has mild antiseptic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory effects. It is effective in the treatment of skin disorders caused by fungus and bacteria. It is an effective natural insecticide and weed killer as well. 

You can find Pomada de Arnica at nearly every pharmacy in Mexico. However, if you’d like to make your own wash, tea, or tincture you can try one of these remedies. 

For bruises add 10 to 15 branches with flowers and leaves to ½ liter of alcohol and allow it to steep for 15 days. Rub the resulting tincture on the affected area. Another remedy calls for 2.5 grams of flowers, roots, and leaves gathered from 20 branches and steeped again for 15 days. 

As a hemorrhoid wash, boil 100 grams in two liters of water. A second remedy suggests 25 grams boiled in one liter of water. 

For stomach ailments, drink 10-20 drops of essential oil in water three times a day. As a tea, take one tablespoon every two hours made from 2.5 grams of flowers boiled in ¼ liter of water. Or one cup drunk four times a day made from 8 grams of flowers and leaves boiled in one liter of water. 

Precautions: 

Because this little yellow flower is part of the Asteraceae family, those who are sensitive to ragweed and feverfew should not use arnica because it may trigger allergic reactions.

Internal use of arnica should be limited to a few days due to potential toxicity

So, although I picked up a box of this Árnica tea at the market, after my investigations, I believe I’ll keep it for medicinal use rather than a regular breakfast beverage. 

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Read more about herbal remedies found in Mexico.

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