Tag Archives: herbs for upset stomach found in Mexico

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 — Manzanilla

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Matricaria chamomilla (German Chamomile) has long been used to treat menstrual cramps. In fact, Matricaria comes from the Latin word for womb (matriz). It is an herb that didn’t originate in Mexico but has become a fast favorite since it was brought from Europe by the Spanish in the 1500s.

In Spanish, manzana means “apple,” so it’s only natural that chamomile (which also means apple), is called “little apple” in Mexico, not for its appearance but its apple-like scent.

Manzanilla is digestive, sedative, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic. Breast pain associated with premenstrual syndrome (mastalgia) has been effectively treated with regular doses of chamomile extract. To make a traditional Mexican PMS tea, use 10 grams of manzanilla (flowers and leaves) for every half liter 3 times a day as needed.

Matricaria chamomilla has antifungal properties as well. To treat a yeast infection in the Mexican way, use 20 grams of flowers for every half liter of water for a vaginal wash. Allow to the infusion to steep for 15 minutes before use.

Manzanilla is given to laboring mothers as well as prescribed after delivery in Mexico. Some midwives (parteras) use an ointment from manzanilla leaves and onions fried in manteca (lard) to lessen labor pains. For postpartum discomfort, an infusion of canela (cinnamon) rosa de castilla (Rosa gallica) and manzanilla is made from equal parts of each herb.

Studies have shown that manzanilla has been helpful for women in returning to regular digestive patterns after a cesarean section. It has also been used successfully to treat parasitic infections of the stomach.

Manzanilla is often used to treat eye infections. To make an eyewash, add a pinch of salt before boiling the herb. Make sure the infusion is freshly made for each application. Although care should be taken with topical application. Some people have a sensitivity to manzanilla on the skin. Applying it to the skin may cause a rash or allergic reaction.

Colicky babies are often given a weak tea made with manzanilla in Mexico. Young children are given manzanilla to help with dehydration caused by diarrhea. The Tzeltal Maya of Chiapas, Mexico make a manzanilla tea with an orange and lime leaf added to improve the drinker’s mood.

Additionally, it has anticancer properties and can be used in the treatment of lung cancer. The chamomile flower heads and leaves have antioxidant properties. This pretty little flower has been shown to be memory enhancing and useful in the prevention of cell death in the hippocampal region of the brain too.

Apparently, regular ingestion of manzanilla will help you live longer if you a woman according to one study, so bottoms up ladies.

The mood enhancing tea recipe, with manzanilla, orange and lime leaf, sounded so delicious, I decided to make my own cup. And it was.

De virgen a virgen, recoge la manzanilla para cuando te duela la tripa.jpg

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Natural Healing with Lentejilla

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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.

root

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!

lentajilla

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.

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