Tag Archives: traditional herbal remedies

Natural Healing –Retama

The gorgeous yellow trumpet bush, locally known as retama, grows wild in La Yacata. It’s a favorite of hummingbirds, so I always am delighted when it sprouts up in the backyard. My husband, not so much. He says it’s only good to make tea to stimulate the appetite and that it’s a horrible tea to drink, speaking from experience.

That couldn’t be all this lovely plant was capable of, so off I went to track down its medicinal properties. The botanical name is Tecoma stans and it is native to the Americas. It is drought-resistant and prefers rocky soil, which makes La Yacata an excellent habitat for it.  Throughout Mexico, it is known by many names including flor amarillo, Hierba de San Pedro, Palo de arco, and tronadora. 

In Nahuatl, it was known as tecoma xóchitl (flower in the form of a vase), Candox, Nixtamal Xóchitl and used medicinally by the Aztecs. In Maya, it is K’anlol or Xk’anol.

In Mexico, traditional remedies still use the stems, flowers, leaves, branches, bark and root of this plant to cure. An infusion of the flower stems is given to reduce the effects of a hangover. Tea made from the roots is prescribed as a diuretic. The leaves are used to make a decoction drunk before breakfast for nine days to treat gonorrhea. 

To treat whooping cough, a decoction is made from the leaves of the retama, cabbage rose petals, and stems of tasajo cactus. Retama is also included in remedies to treat adult onset diabetes. The leaves and flowers are used to treat the common cold, fever, headache, kidney problems and jaundice. The flowers and leaves are also applied externally as a poultice to treat skin infections.  A tea made from the flowers is made to calm menstrual cramps. 

The leaves and flowers have both antibacterial and antifungal properties. It has a high level of pancreatic lipase inhibitory activity, making it an effective treatment for diabetes. The flowers are nephroprotective, making it an accessible treatment for kidney issues. 

It certainly seems a useful plant to have around!

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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