Tag Archives: herbal remedies

Natural Healing — Colima Sal de Mar

I recently discovered that Mexico has its own sea salt production in Colima. These salt flats have been in use since pre-Hispanic times. Hueytlatoani Colimotl, the king, paid his tributes to the Aztec emperor with salt. In fact, the salt flats were the cause of the 30-year La Guerra del Salitre (Saltpeter War) between Colimotl and the leader of the Purépechas Cazonci Tangáxoan II, both factions vying for control of this valuable mineral.

After the Spanish conquest, salt increased even more in value because it was used in the extraction of silver. At one point, the salt flats were producing 3,600 tons each year. In the 1890s, cyanide replaced salt in the mining process and production dropped off.

Mexican sea salt is from the La Laguna de Cuyutlán. It is still harvested using the traditional processes. Microplastics are filtered out through the black volcanic sand that surrounds the estuary. The salinated water is dehydrated in the sun and the salt crystals are collected by hand. Because the process is organic, it is only done 16 weeks per year.

According to experts, you can distinguish sal de mar from Colima from other sea salt varieties by its color, bright white, size, smaller than most sea salt, and humidity. When you crush a grain between your fingers, your fingers will be damp.

Sal de mar is high in trace minerals not found in processed table salt. It has medicinal properties that you shouldn’t miss out on. Bathing in sal de mar helps reduce pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis outbreaks.

Those trace minerals provide immunostimulatory activity and enhance the electrical signals in the cells of the heart, brain, and nervous system. Sal de mar can be used as an inhalant to improve nasal congestion, runny nose, and sleep quality. Regular consumption is renal protective and works as a natural anti-cancer compound. It is also anti-bacterial.

Note: Sal de mar does not have added iodine, which means those that have thyroid issues should not use it to the exclusion of regular table salt. 

Jugo de Limón & Sal de Mar Inhalation for Stuffy Nose

  • 4 limónes (Citrus aurantifolia)
  • 1 teaspoon Colima sal de mar (sea salt)

Squeeze the juice from the limónes. Add ½ cup boiling water and salt. Inhale the steam to help with stuffy nose and congestion.


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 — Tomillo

Photo credit: Syrio Thymus vulgaris

The other day at the plant place, I came across a lovely thyme plant that I just had to have for my garden. As part of my introduction process, I had to do an intensive research session on medicinal properties. As my devoted reader, you too get to enjoy my obsession with plants in today’s post.

Tomillo (Thymus vulgaris) is native to Europe and therefore a plant brought to Mexico by the Spanish after the conquest. In Mexico, this is a culinary and medicinal herb. It’s used to flavor beans, calm a cough, and as a digestive aid.

It has antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anticancer properties. It has been shown to have beneficial immunomodulatory and potent smooth muscle relaxant effects, making it a good choice for treating respiratory ailments. It is also effective against several RNA viruses, including coronaviruses. Its antispastic effects on the intestine and antibacterial and antimicrobial properties also support its use as a digestive aid. 

It can also be used as a bioinsecticide. Studies have shown that it is toxic to larvae of insects that carry the dengue virus. It is an effective food preservative as it inhibits microbial growth.

Tomillo and Ajo Infusion for Hacking Cough

  • 1 tablespoon of tomillo leaves (Thymus vulgaris)
  • 1 ajo clove (Allium sativum)

Pour one cup of boiling water over the tomillo leaves and ajo. Allow it to steep for 15 minutes before straining. Add miel (honey) and limón (Citrus aurantifolia Swingle) to taste.

Tomillo Cough Expectorant

  • 2 parts gordolobo (Verbascum thapsiforme sdahere)
  • 1 part bugambilia morada (Bougainvillea glabra)
  • 1 part manzanilla (Matricaria chamomilla)
  • 1 part jamaica (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
  • 1 part tomillo (Thymus vulgaris)
  • Pinch of ground canela (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)

Pour a cup of boiling water over 2 spoonfuls of the mixture. Allow it to steep for 10 minutes. Strain and add a pinch of canela. Drink as needed to reduce excess phlegm.


Want to learn a new way to look at plants?

Discover common traditional medicine practiced in Mexico today

with the Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico series.

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Natural Healing — Malva de Quesitos

Photo credit: Curtis Clark Malva parviflora

The plant quesitos (Malva spp.) “little cheeses” gets its name from shape of the plant’s fruit. My husband has pointed this plant out on several of our wildflower explorations, being consistant about reminding me that it was edible (although not very tasty in my opinion). He also never fails to mention that his 5 sisters would harvest the plant’s quesitos for their dolls. 

The term malva is also used in our area but reserved for the more ornamental versions of this species. Other names in Mexico include malva de quesitos, malva de Castilla, ahala, malba, malva alboheza, malva verde, violeta de cuchi, hierba quesera, quesillos en Veracruz, juriata eranchi and juriaterango in Purépecha, du-ene in Mazahua, alahuacciopatli in Nahuatl, and baldag malv in Zapotec.

Traditionally, malva is used as a digestive aid and wound wash. An infusion made from the leaves is prescribed for kidney problems. Fresh, crushed leaves are applied to bruises to reduce inflammation. The leaves are boiled as a vegetable and the “quesitos” are eaten as well. Its seeds are included in poultry feed.

There are at least 240 genera and more than 4,200 species in this classification. Only a handful have been studied thoroughly. Malva has been used as a food source and medicine for thousands of years. The origin of this species is uncertain, although some experts suggest that perhaps the Malvaceae family came from the Mediterranean area. 

In general, Malva plants have diuretic, anti-diarrheal, and laxative properties. They possess moderate antimicrobial activity, high anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties, and strong anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties.

Malva parviflora (cheeseweed) is the most commonly found variety of malva found in Mexico. Malva parviflora is anti-inflammatory and improves cognitive deficit that results from Alzheimer’s disease. The leaves inhibit insulin resistance and lower cholesterol levels. It is also an effective tuberculosis treatment

In Puebla, malva parviflora root is made into an infusion for dysentery. In other areas, the leaves are applied topically or a leaf infusion is administered to treat rheumatoid arthritis. In Chiapas, a foot bath for swollen feet is made from the leaves. Children with a fever are bathed in water that contains malva leaves and flowers in many areas of Mexico. Its also used in remedies for diarrhea, cruda (hangover), empacho (indigestion), TB, colds, sore throat, cough, bronchitis, and cavities. Crushed leaves are applied topically for wounds, cuts, animal stings, headaches, and mouth sores. A cold compress is made by boiling one entire plant in a liter of water then allowing it to cool completely. The herb is wrapped in a cloth and applied to the affected part. The cloth is rewet every 10 minutes for half an hour. An infusion is made as an eyewash.

Malva de Quesitos Sore Throat Tea

  • 4 teaspoons of dried or 8 teaspoons of fresh malva de quesitos including leaves, flowers, stems, and roots (Malva parviflora)

Add the herb to a cup of boiling water. Steep for 5 – 20 minutes. Strain. Allow it to cool for 15 minutes more. Drink 3 cups a day.

The roots and leaves of malva rotundifolia, known as malvón, are used in a bath to lower fever in Mexico and Guerrero states. The dried or fresh flowers are boiled for an infusion drank lukewarm before breakfast and before bed for headache, joint pain, and stomach ailments. The roots and leaves are made into a decoction for a stomach cleanse.

Malva neglecta (L.) Wall., malva de quesitos, is often used as a digestive aid in instances of empacho (indigestion) or coraje (anger sickness). It’s also prescribed for urinary infections and fever. This plant has considerable antioxidant and wound healing properties

Malva verticillata L. var. crispa is a common food item served raw in salads or cooked as a vegetable. It is a rich source of antioxidants.

Malva sylvestris, known as malva de campo or malva silvestre, is mostly used as an internal or external anti-inflammatory agent in Mexico. It is also an ingredient in treatments for chickenpox and after-birth expellant. Used as a tea infusion, it’s given to reduce the intensity of cough, bronchitis, and asthma and as a digestive aid. Malva sylvestris has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antibacterial, and renal-protective properties. The flowers are analgesic and anti-inflammatory. The leaves are anti-cancer, anti-ulcerogenic, and encourage the formation of skin tissue. It is also neuroprotective and shows promise as a food source that reduces brain inflammation associated with depression and mild traumatic brain injury.

Malva de Campo Diuretic Infusion

  • One part cola de caballo (Equisetum myriochaetum)
  • One part barbas del maíz (Zea mays) cornsilk
  • One part malva de campo (Malva sylvestris)
  • One part perejil (Petroselinum crispum)

Combine herbs in equal parts. Pour a cup of boiling water over a rounded teaspoon of the mixture. Steep for 10 minutes. Strain. Drink in the morning before breakfast.


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

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