Tag Archives: natural healing

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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Filed under Homesteading, Mexican Food and Drink, Natural Healing

Natural Healing–Nispero leaf tea — Loquat leaf tea

I have long enjoyed the nispero fruit which is known as míspero locally.  Mama Sofia had several full-grown trees and when in season would always give us a bucketful to take home.  My husband has been trying for years to grow our own nispero tree. One time Miss Piggy broke loose and ate it.  Another time, a hoard of ants stripped the sapling bare overnight and it dried out. A third planting was destroyed by the chickens.  However we currently have not one, but two, healthy nisperos out back. They aren’t mature enough to produce fruit yet, but I have made nispero leaf tea.  It’s delicious! It has a fruity flavor all its own.

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The nispero (Eriobotrya japonica) otherwise known as loquat is not native to Mexico or Japan, but China.  I wasn’t able to trace its migration to Mexico, although I imagine it came with the Spanish.  Regardless how it arrived, it is a healthy addition to your Mexican diet whether eaten as a fruit or enjoyed as a tea.  It’s long been used to treat skin inflammation and respiratory problems in China. Here are some other health benefits:

Loquat has been found to be Anti-acne, Anti-aging, Anti-allergy, Antioxidant, Anti-inflammatory  and provide beneficial immunomodulatory effects (Read more here and here and here.) It reduces body weight through control of lipid metabolism and reduces fat deposits in the liver. The loquat flower has a protective effect on acute alcohol-induced liver injury. Loquat also reduces total cholesterol and triglycerides (Read more here.) and prevent skeletal muscle atrophy. (Read more here.) It is useful in treating diabetes (Read more here.), useful in treating cancer (Read more here and here and here and here.), useful in fighting bacterial infections, and useful in the treatment of respiratory disorders. Loquat leaf tea is known to relieve cough and reduce phlegm. as well as aiding in the treatment of chronic bronchitis.  Finally, Loquat suppresses ovariectomy-induced bone mineral density deterioration.  

Here’s how to make nispero leaf tea:

Pick a handful of leaves, preferably young leaves.  Scrape off the furry underside. Wash and let dry.

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Cut the leaves lengthwise in long stripes to reduce oxidation.  

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Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Let the leaves steep for 10 minutes. Strain and serve. Flavor with honey if desired.  It really doesn’t need it. The flavor is lightly fruity.

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I found one recipe that suggested the tea can be served as a hot toddy, with a splash of whiskey or bourbon and lemon on the side.  I suppose it could. Maybe I’ll try it this way during the rainy season on one of my days off.

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Filed under Mexican Food and Drink, Natural Healing

Natural healing–Hibiscus tea or agua de jamaica

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As if I didn’t have enough on my plate already, I decided to enroll in a 6-week online herbal course through Herbal Academy.  As the program’s aims included sustainability, stewardship, and affordability, I knew this was the place for me!

So I jumped right into the Herbal Materia Medica course. The lessons and a number of print-outs were free.  The herbs I would be studying were left up to my discretion.  I decided to learn more about plants that I had readily available here in Mexico.  So I chose cilantro (coriander), jamaica (hibiscus), sabila (aloe vera), feverfew and wandering jew.  It was more than I bargained for, probably because once I started researching herbs, I couldn’t stop.  I kept adding more and more herbs to my list of useful local and medicinal plants.  

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Find more herbal courses here!

I’d like to share some of what I learned about the hibiscus flower today.  

Agua de flor de jamaica is one of my favorite aguas frescas here in Mexico. When this is an option, who would every choose a coke? Its deep red color reminds me of Kool-aid, although the flavor is a bit on the tart side. Making it is nearly as easy as Kool-aid as well.

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The calyx (the sepals of a flower, typically forming a whorl that encloses the petals and forms a protective layer around a flower in bud) are added to boiling water until thoroughly wet. Strain the mixture, getting all the juice out, add sugar to taste and stir.

Dried jamaica (hibiscus) calyx are easily obtainable at the market, so I went out and obtained some “for my class project.” I opted to add piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar) and canela (cinnamon) to my tea. My son said it tasted more like ponche (fruit punch) but drank an enormous quantity of it. I only used a handful of flower petals, so I have plenty left to perfect my own agua de jamaica.

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Not only is it delicious, but it is good for you too.  Agua de jamaica has citric acid, malic acid (giving it its tart flavoring) used in treating fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome because of its energy increasing properties, tartaric acid which is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound useful in treating inflamed joints, pancreatitis and liver inflammation. Tartaric acid has also been shown to improve glucose tolerance and intestinal absorption of nutrients. The flower also contains polysaccharides which aid in reducing fatigue, regulating healthy blood pressure and blood sugar, encourage a positive mood, soothe irritation, support the immune system, and increase libido.  No wonder this is a drink recommended to reduce menopause symptoms! (See also  A Beautiful Transition In Life: Dealing With Menopause Naturally Without HRT and Health Benefits Of Hibiscus)  It’s been used to reduce pain from menstrual cramps, restore hormonal balance which reduces mood swings and depression.

Furthermore, jamaica has cyanidin and delphinidin, antioxidants found to have anti-carcinogenic properties found to be effective in skin, breast and colon cancer prevention.  

Studies have shown that extract of hibiscus (jamaica) is toxic to cancer cells. Why isn’t everybody drinking this?

As if that isn’t enough, flor de jamaica contains anthocyanins which have long been used to treat high blood pressure, colds and urinary tract infections.  As the drink is a natural diuretic, it’s easy to see how it could be just the thing for these all-too-common ailments.

Jamaica has been used to successfully treat obesity and head lice. Drinking agua de jamaica can reduce anxiety and depression.  This tea is low in calories and caffeine-free and can be enjoyed hot or cold. What more could anyone ask for?

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So how much should you drink?  Superfoods Scientific Research recommends a typical adult should drink one cup of hibiscus tea twice daily.  Take 2 tsp of dried blossoms or 1 tsp of crumbled blossom with 1 cup of boiling water, steep for ten minutes.

There you have it, folks!  I would be lax if I failed to mention that there have been reported side effects from drinking this tea.  As mentioned above, it lowers hormone levels which is great for menopausal women but might not be what someone trying to get pregnant would want. So avoid this drink if you are undergoing fertility treatments or are in the first trimester of pregnancy.  As it lowers blood pressure, if your blood pressure is already low, don’t drink it.  As it reduces anxiety, you may feel utterly relaxed or drowsy after drinking it.  In fact, some people have reported hallucinations, although I have yet to experience that particular side effect myself.

Did you know you can make taquitos out of flor de jamaica too?  Check out this recipe!


Well, I have my packet of organic hibiscus seeds and am going to give it another go this year.  I made an attempt before, but the seeds didn’t sprout (See Failing at Container Gardening.)  Once I get my first batch, I’ll walk you through the drying process.  If you can’t wait until then check out the steps at HIBISCUS: A TASTY ADDITION TO YOUR EDIBLE LANDSCAPE OR GARDEN.

So, as you can see, I learned quite a bit as a result of my free course at Herbal Academy. Totally worth it!  Stay tuned for more informative herbal posts in the future!

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Filed under Native fauna and flora, Natural Healing