Tag Archives: native healing

Natural Healing–Feverfew tea

feverfew

These flowers just popped up in our backyard.

With so many wildflowers growing in La Yacata, at times, I am overwhelmed with being so under informed, not being a native and all. I am sure that these plants are useful, and not just another pretty face, but it has been difficult to find anyone that knows herblore anymore.

My mother was always interested in herbs and I remember drying and using chamomile flowers. For that reason, when I discovered this plant in my backyard, I thought at first it was a type of local chamomile. Locals call is manzanilla, which is chamomile. However, upon closer examination, it seemed just a little bit different than the chamomile flowers my mother dried. Although the flower was similar, it had a flat center rather than a cone shaped one and thus it was feverfew, not chamomile after all.

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) is also known as also known as altamisa, amargaza, amargazón, arrugas, artemisa, botón de plata, botón de plata común, camamila de los huertos, camelina de los huertos, camomila de Aragón, chapote, flor de la calentura, flor de santos, gamarza, gamaza, gamazón, hierba de altamira, hierba de Santa María, hierba santa, madrehuela doble, madrehuela olorosa, madrehuela rósea, magarsa, magarza, magarza amarilla, magarzuela, manzanilla, manzanilla botonera, manzanilla brava, manzanillo, manzanillón, margaza, matricaria, matronaria, pelitre, Santa María blanca, yerba de Santa María in Mexican Spanich and in Aztec– iztactzapotl or cochitzapotl.

Even with all these names, I wasn’t able to find any information in my Aztec medicine booklets. But I was able to find a page in another of my books in my small, but oh so useful library.

The name feverfew is misleading since this plant has not been shown to reduce fever. However, it has been used for centuries to prevent or reduce migraines. It also has been shown to relieve muscle spasms and can be used a mild sedative.

drying flowers

Cut and hung feverfew drying for tea.

When I asked around, my local sources told me this plant could be dried and made into a tea. I wasted no time in cutting and hanging. I have periodic migraines, leftover from a car accident some 20 years ago, and my husband constantly complains about hernia pain even after his operation, so I figured this was the perfect tea for us.

dry feverfew

Dried feverfew

When the plant was finally dry, I crunched the flowers and leaves, discarding the stems and roots. It had a very strong herb scent, but I was bound and determined to make a tea.

I admit the first cup of tea was so very strong that we had to choke it down. (I made everybody drink a cup). So the next cup, I tried adding local organic honey and our own organic raw goat milk to try and cut the flavor. We decided this tea wasn’t a tea for milk, so the third night I just added the honey and we all agreed that it was passably flavored like that.

This plant is self-seeding and before we even finished the first batch, there were plants to cut and dry. This time, I am going to try and separate the flowers and leaves and try a tea with just the flowers. The leaves are pungent and make the tea a might bit strong for our tastes.

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Natural Healing with Sábila (aloe vera)

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Even before moving to México, I had known that aloe vera could be used for burn treatments.  I now know that aloe vera (sábila) has more uses than that.

Sábila has been used since the time of the Mayans as a miracle plant, treating everything from cavities and cancer to brujaría (witchcraft).  The most potent part of the plant is the clear gel found within its long spear-like leaves.  This gel works as an astringent, pain killer, and coagulator.   It contains beta carotene, Vitamin B, niacin, riboflavin, Vitamin B6, folic acid, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E as well as calcium, phosphoric acid, and iron.  Sounds like a breakfast of champions to me.

Sábila can be used to boost the immune system, regenerate damaged skin cells, as an antibiotic, reduce arthritis inflammation and pain, and stop bleeding.  It can be used as a topical agent or ingested by being made into juices or teas, although having accidentally eaten a bit that was on my toast one day, I’m not sure how delicious a tea would be.  It has an acrid taste.

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Maguey plant

So there is some basis in it being a miracle plant.  My husband had heard that it could be used in treatment for athlete’s foot, so one day he cut what he thought was sábila (aloe vera) and rubbed the gel on his feet.  Unfortunately for him, he had mistakenly cut a leaf from the maguey plant and the result was an extreme burning sensation rather than the itch soothing he was looking for.

Since then, he has gotten savvier in his plant identification and has used sábila successfully in healing animal wounds. (See Animal Doctoring)

When my sister-in-law was being plagued by brujería (witchcraft) being caused by envidia (envy) she bought a sábila (aloe vera) plant and placed it at the entrance of her tortillería (tortilla shop) to absorb any bad feelings being sent her way. (See Battle of the Brujas)

Sábila used as a ward against evil should be placed at the left of the entrance and would be even better if there were two plants, one at either side of the entrance.

I even found a little prayer that can be used in conjunction with incense made from sábila, balsam, ground coffee and sugar.  It goes like this:

Cruz santa y divina, bujas y brujos:

Enemigos que piensan llegar a mí, estoy con Dios por el poder de Cristo, que ha dado en el huerto de la fe.Oh! Dios. Pido que alejes de mí las tristezas y ruinas que vengan hacia mí.  Dios soberano, líbrame de las penas y las traiciones, que bendita sea María y la hostia de la consagración.  María Santísima, cúbreme con tu manto, que mi cuerpo sea parte de cielo, por los tres dulces nombres de Jesús, José y María.  Con Dios y esta mata, sea la prosperidad en mi vida y en mí y en mi casa, Jesús, Joaquín y Santa Ana, líbrame de todo mal.

If the plant wilts or dies, it means that someone has had envy or bad intentions toward you and the plant absorbed the negative.

There is also a belief that if you plant a sábila with a coin at the roots, the household will never lack money.  Since my husband recently transplanted two wild sábila to our backyard, it’s a perfect opportunity to test this out.  We sure could use that bit of financial wizardry.

My little guidebook Antiguo Formulario Azteca de Yerbas Medicinales also has a section devoted to sábila.  For back pain, the halved heated penca (leaf) should be placed on the part that hurts or in inflamed to relieve pain.   For bronchitis or cough, a tea can be made with a little piece of sábila, 10 eucalyptus leaves and 10 flowers from the bugambilia morada plant (bougainvillea) and drunk an hour before going to sleep.

As with all customs and beliefs that we have discovered among our many adventures and disasters in México, we tend to err on the side of belief rather than skepticism.  As they say “When in Rome…

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