Tag Archives: herbal remedies

Natural Healing — Cempasúchil

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The Aztec marigold (Tagetes erecta)  is known as cempasúchil in Mexico. The name comes from the Nahuatl cempohualxochitl which translates as “20 flowers”, possibly referring to the fact that each blossom has the potential to create 20 or more flowers, although some sources reference the ritualistic significance of the number 20, so there maybe be other reasons for this name.

This aromatic flower is native to Mexico and has a long history of medicinal and ritualistic use. Even today, this flower dominates the festival Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). It is believed that the strong scent will call to the spirits that are roaming free and guide them home to visit loved ones. This use has given the cempasúchil another name, Flor de Muertos (Flower of the Dead).

The Mayan had similar beliefs. The priests would wash their hands and face with an infusion of leaves and flowers before calling the spirits.

There is a legend that describes the love of Xóchitl and Huitzilin. Their feelings were so strong that when Huitzlin died in battle, the sun god Tonatiuh heard the pleas of Xóchitl to reunite them. He transformed Xóchitl into the cempohualxochitl flower. Huitzlin, who had been reincarnated in the form of the hummingbird, forever after found nourishment among her “20 flowers.”

Francisco Hernández described the common use of the cempasúchil in the Historia Natural de la Nueva España like this:

“Tienen todas hojas como de tanaceto, flores amarillas, o amarillas con algo de bermejo, de temperamento caliente y seco en tercer grado, sabor acre, partes sutiles y olor un tanto fuerte. Tiene virtud resolutiva y aperitiva; el jugo de las hojas tomado o las mismas hojas machacadas y tomadas con agua o con vino atemperan el estómago frío, provocan las reglas, la orina y el sudor, alejan los fríos de las intermitentes untadas un poco antes del acceso, quitan la flatulencia, excitan el apetito venéreo, curan la debilidad que proviene de destemplaza fría del hígado, abren las vías obstruidas, aflojan los miembros contraídos, alivian la hidropesía, provocan vómito tomadas con agua tibia, y curan los fríos de las fiebres y aun las fiebres mismas evacuando la causa por la orina y el sudor.”

Historia Natural de la Nueva España, Volume II. Book IV, CLXXIX

Loosely translated, it reads:

“They all have leaves like tansy, yellow flowers, or yellow with some red, hot-tempered and dry in the third degree, pungent taste, subtle parts, and somewhat strong smell. It has a decisive and aperitive virtue; the juice of the leaves drunk or the same leaves crushed and drunk with water or wine temper the stomach, provoke menstruation, urine and sweat, remove intermittent shivers by smearing a little near body cavities, rid the body of flatulence, they excite the venereal appetite, they cure the weakness that comes from the dislocation of the liver, they open the clogged passageways, they loosen contracted limbs, they relieve dropsy, they provoke vomit when drunk with lukewarm water, and they cure shivering of the fevers and even the fevers themselves evacuating the cause of urine and sweat.”

Strange 15th-century disorders aside, like the floating liver, the cempasúchil has been shown to be effective in the majority of the ailments Hernández listed and continues to be an important ingredient in many natural remedies in Mexico today.

Traditionally, the cempasúchil has been used to treat intestinal parasites. Drink 3 cups of a tea made from a pinch of flower petals and 1 / 4 liter of water. The flowers also have anti-inflammatory properties.

A diluted, lukewarm tea is given to babies with colic commonly called empache. The flowers have spasmolytic properties which help soothe the bellyache and reduces fussiness.

An infusion or tincture of the flowers is also used to treat susto or espanto which are nervous conditions. The compounds in the flowers have a sedative effect.

Both antioxidant and antibacterial, the cempasúchil has traditionally been used for wound care. The flowers are crushed into a poultice and can be applied directly to the injury or sore. The crushed leaves are used to treat boils and burns which aids in healing.

In the Yucatan, Tabasco, Oaxaca, and Veracruz, the cempasúchil is used to treat fever. Extracts from the plant are applied in a tincture to the bottom of the feet to provoke perspiration and sweating. In Guerrero and Tabasco, the plant is used to treat colds.

The petals are edible and have anti-aging properties, so go ahead and sprinkle some on your salad. Or you could this chicken in marigold sauce recipe or one of the dishes in the video below.

This versatile plant is also a boon to the gardener, being a natural insect repellent. Crushed petals rubbed on your skin will repel mosquitos.

The petals make a non-toxic dye. In Mexico, dried and powdered petals are fed to chickens so that their skin and eggs are yellower. There is also a cempasúchil pulque (moonshine) made in some areas.

All in all, there is more than one reason to have cempasúchil in your herbal repertoire. 

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Natural Healing — Yerba Buena

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Yerba buena, (also spelled hierba buena) otherwise known as Spearmint, is yet another herb that came with the Spanish friars and was gleefully added to the indigenous medicinal herb garden. 

Curanderas (healers) add spearmint to make a concoction more palatable but it also has its own medicinal value.

To treat acid indigestion, gastritis, heartburn, and nausea steep dried or fresh yerba buena for 15 minutes. Allow the tea to cool to room temperature. Add limón and baking soda and drink as needed. Nausea caused by pregnancy tea is made from yerba buena flavored with canela (cinnamon). Nausea caused by a hangover calls for a tea made from a spoonful of yerba buena flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Intestinal inflammations are traditionally treated with an infusion of powdered root. Spearmint has a proven antispasmodic effect.

For the most part, yerba buena (good herb) is still used primarily to treat stomach ailments in Mexico, although the herb has other medicinal properties worth noting.

Spearmint (Mentha spicata) has been shown to reduce pain for people who have osteoarthritis. The antioxidant properties protect the liver. Regular ingestion improves memory. Spearmint is effective in reducing anxiety and is antimicrobial. Infusions of spearmint have been traditionally used topically as a mild wound wash to reduce the chance of bacterial infections. A poultice of spearmint leaves and a little olive oil is sometimes used to treat burns.

It is both antiproliferative and antidiabetic. It has been effective in the treatment of Polycystic ovary syndrome and hirsutism. Yerba buena has often been used medicinally particularly digestive issues. It has been shown to have anti-obesity properties.

Yerba buena is often used to reduce flem. To make a tea for colds and flu, boil 10 grams of the leaves for each 1 / 2 liter of water. Tea for a headache is made with a sprig of fresh hierbabuena and a few romero leaves (rosemary).

Babies are given teaspoons weak tea made from yerba buena then they have hiccups and are teething. If a baby is colicky, basil, cempasuchil, eneldo (dill), fennel, senna, yerba buena, brook mint, rosa de castilla (rose) are combined in equal parts. Three fingers full (a good pinch) of the mix is steeped in a liter of water.

Yerba buena is a natural food preservative and can be used as an organic insecticide. It also prohibits the growth of certain fungi on plants.

Overall, yerba buena is a good herb to have on hand.

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Natural Healing — Huizache

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La Yacata, being the dry, rocky land that it is, plays host to the huizache. When it flowers in the spring, it can cause allergies, but the benefits of this plant far outweigh the few weeks of sniffling. You also should take care that the long thorns don’t scratch you. In some parts of Mexico, this tree is called espina divina (divine thorn) and with good reason! They are certainly worth a healthy dose of respect in my book. In fact, in many crucifixion reenactments during Semana Santa (Holy Week) Jesus’ crown of thorns is made from huizache branches. 

Huizache (also spelled huisache or guizache) or Sweet Acacia has several botanical names which cause some confusion but the three most common are acacia farnesiana, mimosa farnesiana, and vachellia farnesiana.

The flowers are used to create the perfume Cassie. The sap is used as glue. The bark has long been used for its tannin. A black dye is obtained also from the bark.

Bernardino de Sahagún reported that seed pods were considered aphrodisiac in nature by the indigenous people in Mexico and that flowers of the tree were used for a headache remedy.

The seed pods are antioxidant and topical anti-inflammatory agents. Animals, including cattle, sheepand goats, that eat seed pods transfer the antioxidant properties to their milk. Our goats love huizache!

Extracts from the seed pods are used to treat dysentery and tuberculous and are also effective in treating cholera.

A mouthwash for sore gums is made with an infusion of leaves, flowers, and stems. A tea decoction made from the same parts of the plant is traditionally prescribed to reduce excess phlegm.

Dried leaves can be applied directly to sores. Vaginal infections can be treated by combining leaves, flowers, and roots simmered to make douche or sitz bath. 

Overall, the huizache is quite a useful plant to have around!

 

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Herbs and Essential Oils Ultimate Bundle 2019

It's your health. Take charge of it.

I have been waiting all year for the 2019 Herbs and Essential Oils Super Bundle! And as I mentioned last week, my own herb book, Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico is included! Can you tell how excited I am?

A peek inside the Herbs & Essential Oil Bundle!

That’s me! Top right.

From June 5 to 10, you can get your copy of this incredible bundle for $37. That’s 29 eBooks, 7 eCourses & membership sites and 4 printable packs with a grand total of over $760 dollars for less than the price that my herb book costs on Amazon.

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There I am again–bottom row next to last!

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