Mexico’s ancient medicine
Herbal medicine is essentially the application of botany in medicine, that is, making the most of the medicinal and therapeutic properties of the plants to treat different diseases and improve health. Mexico is one of the most diverse countries and home to the most magnificent Mesoamerican civilizations, which were the cradle of great astronomers, architects, poets, mathematicians, and of course, healers who dedicated their lives to finding in nature the cure for illnesses that afflicted the population. This search originated a profound knowledge comparable to other traditions, such as acupuncture or Ayurveda.
It is estimated that around 90% of the Mexican population has resorted at least once to one of the 4,500 medicinal plants that grow in the country, and some of the most prestigious universities offer professional training programs in this discipline, which speaks volumes about the importance and value of this ancient wisdom. In Mexico, herbal medicine is a knowledge that has been passed down from generation to generation since time immemorial, and today, the World Health Organization recognizes it as a useful tool to treat multiple diseases and maintain good health. Keep reading to get to know some of the most known medicinal plants and their properties.
One of Mexico’s most emblematic flowers, which brightens gardens and parks all over the country with its gorgeous shades of pink, fuchsia, white, and magenta. Bougainvillea is also one of the most useful medicinal plants to treat upper respiratory illnesses, like cough, asthma, common cold, and bronchitis. The roots of this plant alleviate constipation and applied directly to the skin to help in cases of acne and accelerate wound healing.
One of the best allies for the treatment of all upper respiratory diseases. The “Abango Tea”, an herbal blend that includes mullein, eucalyptus, bougainvillea, Palo Azul (cyclolepis), cuatecomate, hawthorn, and camphor, is one of the most widely used to treat respiratory infections. Also, mullein liniments and ointments help in cases of skin inflammation.
Cuachalalate is a resinous tree that grows in southern Mexico. Its bark has significant healing properties. The infusion of this bark alleviates gastric ulcers, and liver and kidney problems and helps to purify the blood, reduce cholesterol levels, and dissolve gallstones. The pulverized bark is used to treat acne, alopecia, abscesses, and insect bites and stings.
One of the most prodigious and useful plants. Aloe belongs to the succulents, and its stalks contain a gel-like substance with therapeutic and beauty properties. Applied to the skin, aloe soothes and reduces wrinkles and blemishes, calms sunburns, fights skin infections, and accelerates wound healing. Applied to the hair, strengthens, promotes its growth, and eliminates dandruff. Aloe juice improves digestion, boosts the immune system, and reduces cholesterol and triglycerides.
Muitle, or Mexican honeysuckle, is a must in the temazcal ceremonies, where an infusion of this plant completes the detox and purification process. Also known as muicle or sweet grass, this herb is a powerful blood regenerator, digestive, and natural antibiotic. The leaves are used since the olden days to treat anemia, stimulate the immune system, improve digestion, fight viruses and bacteria, and address menopause symptoms.
A true treasure for the skin. The ground bark of this tree is used to elaborate a paste that firms, soothes, and regenerates the skin and slows down aging, eliminates excess oil in the skin, and promotes wounds and burns to heal as it activates blood circulation. It also has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, which make it an extraordinary tool to fight acne without leaving scars.