Tag Archives: mexican herbal remedies

Natural Healing — Muicle

Photo credit: Jim Evans

Muicle (Justicia spicigera) has a whole host of names throughout Mexico. Mexican honeysuckle, as it is known in English, is also called añil de piedra, hierba azul, hierba púrpura, trompetilla, and muitle. In the indigenous languages and regions in Mexico, it is called me tzi ña in Oaxaca, mouait in Tepehua, muu in Tenek, cruz k’aax in Yucatán, limanin in Totonaco, xoicpoxihuitl in Nahuatl, and ych-kaan in Maya.

This native Mexican bush grows to about 3 feet high and attracts hummingbirds and other pollinators with its trumpet-like orange or red flowers. I was first introduced to this plant by my sister-in-law who boiled a batch of the leaves for my husband to drink as a detoxification concoction. The juice is purple and has long been used to make a blue dye. Interestingly, this dye has been used for centuries for ceremonial tortillas. More recently, scientists have proposed its use to increase the nutritional value and reduce the starchiness of commercially produced tortillas. 

In addition to detoxification, muicle is prescribed for diarrhea, menstrual cramps or delayed menstruation, cancer, diabetes, as a postpartum cleansing, susto (anxiety or nervous disorders), cough, and as a disinfectant. Most remedies consist of boiling the branches, leaves, and flowers. For a headache accompanied by fever, the leaves are crushed and made into a poultice placed on the forehead. For cough, the crushed leaves are steeped in water overnight and the resulting infusion is drunk instead of water.

For skin treatments, crushed leaves are boiled with leaves from the capulín (Prunus salicifolia), aguacate (Persea americana), guayaba (Psidium guajava) and ajo (garlic) cloves.

Studies show that muicle is analgesic, antibacterial, antitumor, antimicrobial, antiparasitic, and antifungal. It also has shown promise in controlling epilepsy. It reduces the sensation of pain without a sedation effect. It has glucose lowering effects supporting its use as a diabetic treatment. Muicle is also as effective as valium when it comes to anxiety reduction, reduction of seizures, restless leg syndrome, and alcohol/narcotics withdrawal. It has been shown to have immunomodulatory properties. It’s chemopreventative and inhibits edema. Although muicle is often prescribed for hypertension in Mexico, there hasn’t been any scientific support for this use.

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Interested in natural remedies? Uncover herbal remedies from traditional Mexican sources for healing and wellness in the Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico series.

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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.

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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 — Jícama

Photo credit: Judgefloro and Wibowo Djatmiko

Jícama (Pachyrhizus erosus), from the Nahuatl word xicamatl, is a native Mexican plant. From Mexico, it was introduced to the Philippines by the Spanish and then to Southeast Asia. In Mexico, two types of jícama are cultivated. Jícama de agua is turnip-shaped and has a clear, watery juice, while the juice from jícama de leche is spindle-shaped and is milkier.

As with other plants we’ve looked at, its importance in the prehispanic diet is evidenced by the number of Nahuatl words devoted to it. These words include the specific name for the root, catzotl, the verb for planting jícama, cahtzōntōca, and the person who plants jícama,  cahtzōntōquiliā. Other names it is known by in Mexico include chicam and hehenchican. In English, jícama is most often called the Mexican yam bean.

The edible tuber’s fresh leaves, seedpods, and peel contain the toxin rotenone and make an effective insecticide. However, once the leaves dry, they are no longer toxic and often used as livestock feed in Mexico.

If you’ve never had jícama, you are in for a treat. The tuber is crisp and juicy and can be enjoyed raw or cooked. It has a fresh flavor with a hint of cinnamon. It is often added to salads or sprinkled with limón and chile powder. It remains crisp after cooking, making it an excellent substitute for water chestnuts. Starch from the tuber is used in custards. Even the seed pods can be eaten, as long as they are thoroughly cooked.

Jícama plants need nine months of frost-free weather to mature. Once harvested, the tuber will remain fresh for up to four months whole and up to one week after being cut. 

An intestinal purge is made with 40 grams of jícama seed juice drunk morning and night. For wounds, a tincture is made from 100 grams of powdered seeds steeped in ½ liter of alcohol, soaked for three days, strained, then applied as a poultice. An infusion made from the root and seedpods is utilized as a wash for gout and inflammation. 

Not only is jícama refreshing, but it also has excellent nutritional value. Jícama contains iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, zinc, calcium, and selenium. It also has vitamins C, A, and E.  Additionally, studies have shown it is a good substitute for probiotic drinks.

Studies have shown it to have antioxidant, anticancer, anti-diabetic, anti-osteoporosis, antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.  It has an immunomodulatory effect. It is considered a preventative food source against the development of diabetes and obesity. The toxic rotenone found in the peel, fresh leaves, and seedpods is an effective insecticide and anti-tumor. Regular ingestion promotes cardiovascular health. The seed extract cause muscles to relax as well as reduces anxiety and aggression. The seeds also show moderate anti-herpes simplex virus (HSV) activity.

Agua de Jícama

  • 4 cups of water
  • ½ cup jugo de limón (Citrus aurantifolia)
  • ½ cup jícama peeled and cut into pieces (Pachyrhizus erosus)

Blend the jícama with the limón juice and water. Sweeten with miel (honey) as desired.

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Interested in natural remedies? Uncover herbal remedies from traditional Mexican sources for healing and wellness in the Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico series.

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Filed under Health, Mexican Food and Drink, Native fauna and flora, Natural Healing