Tag Archives: cold and flu remedies

Natural Healing — Laurel Silvestre

 Photo credit: Ernestolapeña 

I discovered another herbal treasure nugget that brought me pure bliss the other day. I picked up a packaged tea that contained laurel, canela (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), and limón (Citrus aurantifolia) but it didn’t have any information on what it could be used for. Since I’ve already done research on limón and canela, there was nothing to it but take a look at laurel. 

I started off wrong-footed in my research. I mistakenly assumed that laurel was Laurus nobilis, bay laurel, and had come with the Spanish conquerors to Mexico. Nope. While the term “laurel” did come from Europe, the leaves most often used in culinary delights and remedies are from a native Mexican tree Litsea glaucescens. Those Spanish priests that were interested in herbology superimposed the name “laurel” on this plant because it resembled the laurel that they were familiar with. 

I wasn’t done with my discovery quite yet. I had noticed previously that the laurel I purchased from different sources tended to be just a little bit different from place to place. That made more sense when I found out there were seven, yes 7, different varieties of Litsea glaucescens in Mexico. 

My next trail of investigation was on discovering the proper name for “laurel.” Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) is properly known as lauro or laurel de castilla. Litsea glaucescens is Mexican Bay or False Laurel in English. In Nahuatl, it’s ecapatli or expatli de Chietla. It was used in remedies for wounds on the feet, as a digestive aid, to treat respiratory issues, and nervous disorders. Loosely translated, the term ecapatli means “wind or air medicine.”  Laurel continues to be used as a medicine and in religious festivals in Mexico particularly in the Doming de Ramos (Palm Sunday) ceremonies. Unfortunately, over-collection has pushed the species to the endangered classification. 

Different native language speakers refer to to the Mexican bay with different names. Among the Raramuri, it is known as aureli. Other groups use the names canelillo, sufricalla or sufracago, izitzuch in Tseltal, laurelillo, laurel chico, laurel de la sierra or laurel silvestre. Yet other names include cu-ju-e or lipa-cujue-e in Chontal and arrayán. In Mixteco, this tree is known as wixi tika´a,  tu Káa, or yucú ñesachoetiaá and in Mazahua, sanshiño.

It’s often used to treat cold and flu symptoms including congestion, cough, and sore throat. It’s also a digestive aid and prescribed for irregular periods. As a food flavoring, it is often combined with tomillo (Thymus vulgaris), mejorana (Origanum majorana), and oregano. The leaves are almost always used dried. Fresh leaves tend to be somewhat bitter. When burnt, it makes an aromatic smoke. It’s used in several rituals for postpartum cleansing along with other herbs. Manteca de laurel, the essential oil, is harvested by simmering crushed leaves and fruit for 30 minutes. Allow it to cool and skim the oil off the top. It is used as a rub for sore muscles or to relieve rheumatism.  

For digestive issues, laurel silvestre leaves are brewed for a tea in Chiapas and added to a licor de caña in Oaxaca. Laurel (Litsea glaucescens) has antidepressant properties supporting its use for nervous disorders. It has proven antioxidant, antiproliferative, and antimicrobial activities. It also has antihypertensive potential.


Interested in discovering a path to wellness through traditional medicine? Discover Mexican herbalism with common remedies used today in the Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico series.

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Natural Healing — Mejorana

Photo credit: Sten

Mejorana’s medicinal properties were brought to my attention when Chencha, the local curandera, prescribed me an infusion with equal parts romero (Salvia rosmarinus), mejorana, and tomillo (Thymus vulgaris) for my upset stomach after I missed a limpia (cleansing) session. These herbs should be boiled in 1 liter of water. Strain and add the juice from one limón (Citrus aurantiifolia) and a teaspoon of honey. It has an extremely herby taste however it proved to be quite effective.

So down the rabbit hole of research, I went. Mejorana (Sweet marjoram) has two botanical names that are considered synonymous, majorana hortensis and origanum majorana. In Mexico, it’s often prescribed for digestive problems, menstrual cramps, and diabetes. It should not be used in large doses during pregnancy because it has hormonal-altering components. 

This herb is a Mediterranean native and was brought to Mexico with the Spanish conquerors. It is similar to oregano in flavor but slightly sweeter hence the name ‘Sweet Marjoram.’

Studies have shown that mejorana is antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, antiparastitic, antidiabetic, anticancer, anti-inflammatory. It has both liver and kidney protective properties. It naturally reduces the sensation of pain and fever and is effective in the treatment of acute infectious diarrhea. Other studies have demonstrated mejorana is cardio and gastroprotective. Additionally, mejorana works to restore hormonal balance and has antidepressant-like properties.

For digestive issues, drink 2 cups a day of an infusion made from fresh cuttings. Use 1 finger-sized sprig for each cup. If using dried mejorana, use one tablespoon for each cup of water. For headaches, dip a cloth into the infusion and cover the eyes with it.


Interested in discovering a path to wellness through traditional medicine? Discover Mexican herbalism with common remedies used today in the Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico series.

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Introducing the Practical Mexican Herbalism for Wellness Academy

I’m pleased to announce my first school on Teachable–the Practical Mexican Herbalism for Wellness Academy. Eventually, there will be a whole slew of courses to take, but for right now, my first course is Traditional Mexican Cold and Flu Remedies.

It’s particularly apropos right now. With the extremely high contagious factor of the Omicron variant circulating, odds are that even if you are double-vaxxed and boosted, you’ll come down with it, unfortunately. However, according to all reports, this is a milder variant and most individuals will be able to recuperate at home. 

Although quite a bit of research has gone into creating vaccines as a preventative measure, there’s not a lot being done on how to manage symptoms once you’ve got it. That means you’ll need to fall back on tried and true old-fashioned cold and flu remedies. That’s where this course will help you out. 

As a case in point, my son contracted COVID at the very beginning of the pandemic and has been struggling with long COVID symptoms ever since. I’ve searched high and low for recommended treatments, but haven’t found any. Again, the focus continues to be on vaccine production rather than alieving lingering effects, so we’ve turned to herbal remedies to help him get back to a semblance of normality. It’s hard to see an otherwise healthy young adult struggle with breathlessness, brain fog, and fatigue. Romero (rosemary) seems to work the best for his situation either as an inhalent with sea salt or in a tea and provides some relief.

In addition to romero mentioned above, you’ll also learn about immunity-strengthening herbs and plants, remedies for headache, nausea, and sore throat, and even explore a cleansing after illness ritual common in the area of Mexico where I live. 

So if you’ve a hankering for more herbal knowledge, then check out Practical Mexican Herbalism for Wellness on Teachable!

And as a bonus just for reading this far, you can download the Traditional Mexican Bugambilia Cough Remedy ebook for FREE!

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