With the number of visits we had to make to the hospital in order to get a prescription refill (See Seguro Popular—A model of inefficiency) it was no big surprise that we picked up a stomach bug and brought it home. My husband and I just felt a little under the weather for a few days, but my son ended up with the works, aches and pains, fever, vomiting, diarrhea and headache.
Being a champ, he complained a bit, but grimly went to school. However, about an hour later, he called to say that he wanted to be picked up as he had vomited all over his uniform.
When he was tucked into bed, I went to talk to my sister-in-law up the hill. I told her about my son’s unfortunate episode at school and immediately she yanked up a plant root and all, from the side of the road next to the house. She told me to make a tea from the root of this plant, she called lentejilla, to help with an upset stomach.
The root of this small plant is a bit stringy and smells sort of like a radish. I washed the root and set it to boil with just a little bit of water. My son did not want to drink it. He said it tasted terrible. So I had a sip. I admit it wasn’t sweet, but it wasn’t terrible. It had an herby, rooty taste. My husband told him he was going to drink it and that was that. The cup was empty in no time and back to bed, he went. He had a second cup in the morning, despite his protests of being “fine now”.
Although he still felt weak for the next 2 or three days, there was no more vomiting or diarrhea. Yeah, another herbal cure!
So what is lentejilla? It grows wild all over La Yacata and I had never paid it any attention before. It grows mostly in areas that had been formerly cultivated, but now are abandoned; hence it’s profligacy in La Yacata. It is a small green plant with tiny flat, oval leaves and grows little white flowers. I was unable to find any information about it in my Antiguo Recetario Medicional Azteca book, but it may be there just listed under a different name.
In Náhuatl, this herb is called chilacaquilitl or mexixi, in Mazahua it is yo-hi and in Mayan called x-cabal pul. It is also known as lentejuela, pierna de vieja, kuitiski, meshishi, yuku kue eni, lipajna shla, kabal puut or tskam utsun. Botanically it is either Lepidium intermedium Gray or Lepidium apetalum Millar. It is also called Peppergrass.
No matter what it might be named, it is a useful herb to have around.