So would you believe that the Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico Series was featured in the April/May 2023 issue of The Edge Magazine? This is the cover.
And my series is featured on this page, towards the back. See it there? EEEKK! How exciting!
If you’d like to take a closer look, you can read this issue and past issues in the digital archives HERE.
The publisher is going to send me a copy of the issue so I can add it to my My Shelf Of High Achievements! (where all my author copies of my books are stored).
Will the publicity sell more books? I can only hope! The Edge Magazine has a distribution of over 15,000 in the midwest US, so it’s no sneezing matter. Will books on Mexican herbalism appeal to the midwesterners? Well, I guess I’ll find out!
Not everyone is aware that vainilla (Vanilla planifolia) is a gift from Mexico first cultivated by the Totonacs. When the Aztecs conquered the Totonacs, they paid their tributes in vanilla, which they called Xanath, meaning “hidden flower.” In Totonac myth, Tzacopontziza was a young girl in love with a poor farmer named Zcatan-oxga. Tzacopontziza’s beauty was noticed by the god of happiness, who tried to woo her. Tzacopontziza refused his advances. Angered by his rejection, the god of happiness made a deal with Tzacopontziza’s father for her hand in marriage. Tzacopontziza refused the marriage and ran away with her beloved. They were captured and executed, their hearts thrown into a ravine. Her heart grew into the orchid that gives us the vainilla pod and his became a bush that supported its viney weight. In other versions of the myth, the lovely Tzacopontziza had been given into temple service by her parents, and by running away with her poor farmer she committed sacrilege which ended in death for both.
Xanath was considered sacred and used as a fragrance in temples by the Totonacs. The flowers were stored in amulets as a protective force. The Aztecs, too, revered this extract. The bitter drink xocolatl was flavored with a dash of vanilla as recorded by Bernal Díaz del Castillo, a Spanish soldier. The Spanish name for this flavoring comes from the word for pod “vaina.” So “vainilla” is little pod, not very original at all. In Nahuatl, cuauhmecaexotl is the vanilla plant. The Zoque-Popoluca, who live in the southern part of Veracruz, call this plant tlilxóchitl, and the Mexicas use the term tich moya which means “black flower.”
Hernán Cortés is given credit for taking this flavoring to Europe in the 1500s. However, the transplanted seeds never produced vanilla beans due to a lack of pollinators.
Vanilla is one of the most expensive spices in the world because extraction is so labor-intensive. The orchid plant vanilla planifolia is a clinging vine that can get up to 300 feet long. It can take up to three years for the plant to mature enough to flower. Melipona bees, orchid bees (Euglossini), and hummingbirds are the primary pollinators of the greenish-yellow flower that only blooms for 24 hours. Cultivated vanilla planifolia is pollinated by hand. Vanilla beans are also harvested by hand as they ripen and then cured. From pollination to harvest, it takes 9 months. Some species of the orchid vanilla planifolia are found in remote areas of Oaxaca, Puebla, and Veracruz and in danger of extinction.
Traditionally, vainilla is used as a gastro-intestinal anti-inflammatory and to treat diarrhea. The aroma is believed to reduce anxiety and depression and is prescribed in cases of susto (sudden fear), up to 25 drops a day in coffee, tea, or milk. The Cruz-Badiano codex has the first recorded illustration of the vanilla planifolia plant. The Florentine Codex records a remedy for cough made from vainilla, cacao(Theobroma cacao), and mecaxóchitl (Piper auritum).
February has another COMPLETE writing project! I’m tickled pink, well maybe green, that El boticario mexicano: Remedios herbales tradicionales para el resfriado y la gripe has been released!
It took some time between the English and Spanish versions because, of course, it had to be translated! My son was the lead on that! He even signed up for a Spanish spelling course online of his own volition during the months he spent hammering away at the translation.
Then the formatting took a bit of time because the program I previously used went to a monthly plan rather than a one-time fee per book, and as I have, well, I don’t know exactly how many books I have out now, but a lot of books, and paying for that would break the bank. So I had to learn how to format using another program.
Anyway, it’s ready now, and in celebration, both the English and Spanish ebook versions are FREE for the next few days.