Tag Archives: Mexican native flora and fauna

Natural Healing — Flor de Manita

Photo of ”Chiranthodendron pentadactylon” (Mexican hand tree) at the San Francisco Botanical Garden, taken June 2005 by User:Stan Shebs 

I was fortunate enough to find some dried Flor de Manita, one of the ingredients in my favorite relaxing tea blend, with one of the local herb sellers and excitedly began my investigations on its medicinal properties. Flor de Manita (Chiranthodendron pentadactylon) is also known as El Mano de Dragón (dragon’s hand), Macpalxóchitl in Nahuatl, and in English as the Handflower tree or Devil’s hand tree because of the unique shape of its flower. It is native to Mexico and Guatemala and has been used since the time of the Aztecs as a heart tonic and as a treatment for dysentery, epilepsy, and STDs. 

It has antiprotozoal, antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antidiarrheal properties, making it an effective treatment for diarrhea. Flor de Manita extracts also have a vasorelaxant effect, supporting its use as a treatment for susto (fear/anxiety) and espanto (sudden fright).

One traditional consists of making a decoction from the bark and leaves as a wash or poultice for genital swelling and pain. A poultice made from the flowers is still used as a common treatment for hemorrhoids by traditional healers.

Tea for Heart Palpitations

1 tablespoon of each:

  • Flor de Yoloxóchitl (Talauma mexicana)(Mexican heart flower)
  • Flor de pitaya (Selenicereus undatus)(Dragon Fruit Flower)
  • Flor de manita (Chiranthodendron pentadactylon) (Handflower tree)

Boil ¼ liter of water and add ingredients. Steep for 5-10 minutes. Drink daily before breakfast without sweetener.

Tea for Nerves

Equal parts:

  • Flor de Yoloxóchitl (Talauma mexicana)(Mexican heart flower) 
  • Hojas de tila (Ternstroemia lineata) 
  • Hojas de toronjil morado (Agastache Mexicana)(Mexican giant hyssop)
  • Hojas de de hierbabuena (Mentha spicata)(spearmint)
  • Flor de Azahar (citrus aurantium)(bitter orange blossoms)
  • Flor de Manita (Chiranthodendron pentadactylon)(Handflower tree)

Boil 1 liter of water. Add herbs. Let steep for 5-10 minutes. Strain and drink liberally throughout the day.


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 — Pochote

pochote pic Pochote, Ceiba aesculifolia (Kapok) is also known as apochote, ceiba, puchote, lánta in Chiapas, kuch (Maya) in Yucatán y len-o-ma (Chontal) and Matzu (chinanteco) in Oaxaca. Once a year, the pochote trees in La Yacata are festooned with huge cotton balls. Every year I tell myself that I’m going to gather them up to stuff some pillows. This year I finally did! It wasn’t as easy as I had hoped. The trunk of the Ceiba aesculifolia (kapok) is covered in thorns, so climbing is out of the question. The seed pods were mostly out of my reach considering these trees can grow up to 25 meters high. The soft, downy fluff disintegrated and floated away after I touched it.  It’s like trying to catch dandelion puffs.  I managed to get one shopping bag full for my efforts. Since the fluff is quite a bit, uh, well fluffier than synthetic materials, not only did I make a huge mess trying to stuff a pillow, but my bagful was only enough for one very small pillow. Well, I guess I’ll try again next year when the cotton balls bloom. This tree has no leaves when it flowers, making it a strange sight. Bats are the primary pollinators as well as moths and hummingbirds. It grows in dry and rocky areas, so it comes as no surprise that La Yacata abounds in them. As with all things found in nature, the pochote has medicinal value. In the states of Mexico and Quintana Roo, it is used to induce vomiting. In Yucatan, the fermented bark is used in a wash given to those with sunstroke. Again, not surprisingly, the cotton-like fluff has been traditionally used for stuffing. It has also been used as tinder for fires and wicks for candles. Recently, this soft material has been found to be effective insulation for refrigerators. The seeds of the pochote are toasted and eaten in Veracruz. The roots are also edible. Craftsmen make jewelry out of the seed pods and carve houses from the wood. Traditionally, infusions of the pochote leaves have been used to treat sores, snake bite, and dermatitis. Francisco Hernández de Toledo mentioned the pochote in his collections of works Plantas y Animales de la Nueva Espana, y sus virtudes about plants and animals found in Nueva Spain (Mexico) and their virtues. There have been no studies so far to ascertain the validity of using pochote leaves on the skin.


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–Guayaba Leaf Tea

tree At the first sign of an upset stomach, my husband is out back plucking leaves off of our guayaba tree to make a tea.  I thought I’d do a little investigation on whether or not there was any validity to these stomach ailment treatment claims and here’s what I found out. Psidium guajava, known as guayaba or guava, is native to Mexico and its fruit ranges from white or yellow to dark pink.  We have two different varieties growing in our backyard, the yellow and the light pink.  Both the fruit and the leaves are used in traditional medicine to treat diabetes, hypertension, cavities, diarrhea, rheumatism, lung disease, fever, and inflammation. Digging a bit deeper into scientific studies, I found that the fruit (either eaten raw or made into juice) has antitumor and anti-cancer properties, is useful in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, and effective in lowering blood sugar, serum total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDLc while increasing HDLc levels.  Guava is also a natural antibacterial agent and antioxidant and beneficial in the treatment of cholera. The guayaba leaf also has medicinal properties. It is cytotoxic, thus effective in the treatment of a variety of cancers. It protects against mercury toxicity, one of the causes of Alzheimer’s. Regular ingestion improves vascular function and regulates blood-glucose levels. It is effective in the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery as well as infections caused by the Candida fungi and  Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. IMG_20171026_080720 My husband makes his stomachache tea from freshly picked young whole leaves.  He washes then boils them for about 10 minutes and that’s it. He drinks it without any sweetener, but you could add honey if you like.  The tea has an earthy taste to it. I saw on another site, that you could make tea from dried and crushed leaves.  However, that takes 3-4 weeks and there seems to be no additional benefit to drying them.  Since we have a fresh source right outside our back door, we’ll stick with that.  Have you tried guayaba leaf tea?


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


Filed under Native fauna and flora, Natural Healing