Tag Archives: mexican 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 — 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.


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 — Pericón

Tagetes lucida Photo credit: Dick Culbert

Pericón (Tagetes lucida) is also known as, hierbanís, cuchrucumín, flor de Santa María, hierba añil, periquillo, yerbanís, Mexican tarragon in English, yauhtli in Nahuatl, and Naná uarhi in Purépecha. It is native to Mexico and in the same family as the more well-known cempasúchil (Tagetes erecta). The Aztecs used it in cooking, as medicine, and in rituals. It was an ingredient to the sacred drink chocolatl and still added to chayote and elotes (boiled corn ears) for flavoring. As it was considered holy to Tlaloc, the rain god, it was rubbed on the chest to ensure safety before crossing a river. It was closely associated with the harvest because it is found after the first rains of the season and blooms around the time the corn is ready to harvest.

After the conquest, pericón became associated with San Miguel (Michael the Archangel). In many areas, it is customary to place crosses made from the plant in each corner of la milpa (cornfield) and on doors to homes and businesses on September 28 to invoke the protection of San Miguel as part of the periconeada (also known as la Fiesta del Pericón) ceremony. September 29 is the feast day of the three archangels, Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael.  

Medicinally, pericón is prescribed as a tonic for diarrhea, empacho (indigestion), asthma, colds, rheumatism, susto (a nervous disorder), and to regulate menstruation in Mexico

An infusion for stuffy noses is made with a handful of leaves in a quart of water. Another tea for fever includes the stems, leaves, and flowers. Dried plants are often burned to keep flies and mosquitoes away from an area.

Pericón has anti-inflammatory, antihypertensive, antispasmodic, antidiarrheal, antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant, antimicrobial, antinociceptive, antidepressant, and sedative-like properties. These components support its traditional use for some nervous and digestive disorders. Additionally, it is a potent hepatoprotective and effective against Streptococcus pyogenes respiratory diseases.

Note: The name hierba anís is used for three related plants, Tagetes lucida, Tagetes filifolia, and Tagetes micrantha in different areas of Mexico. Be sure to positively identify the plant before use.

Pericón Infusion for Stuffy Nose

3-5 tablespoons of pericón leaves

Simmer the leaves in a quart of water. Allow it to steep for 10 minutes. Strain and sip throughout the day to alleviate a stuffy nose.


Interested in health? Learn traditional Mexican plant remedies used today for wellness in the Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico series. Now available on Amazon!

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Filed under Health, Native fauna and flora, Natural Healing