Looking to Our Remedios for Health & Healing

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Manzanilla (chamomile) is used as a sedative and for relaxation. Photo by Quita Ortiz
By Isabel Trujillo

We are beginning to feel the chill that gives way to colder mornings in el Norte. This is the time to make it a point to go out and pick some your autumn remedios before the ground freezes. The energy is moving downward for winter and many herb roots will be most potent around this time.

We start in mid-August by picking Yerba Buena, known as spearmint in English, for stomach ailments and also because we like the taste. To harvest this well-known and common herb, hold down selected stems and cut with a blade, making sure not to include any other nearby plants. The surrounding air and ground should be far from toxins like chemicals, oils or smoke. Treat the plants carefully and with respect so that they are certain to live.

Another remedio we like to pick is Cota, which is also known as Navajo-Hopi Tea. It’s used to purify the blood and can help cleanse the kidneys as well. Other favored remedies that my family uses regularly include:

  • Poleo (peppermint), which is used for headaches
  • Mastranzo (Apple Mint) is a round-leaved mint. If you eat some 2-3 hours before bed, it can work wonders on nighttime heartburn.
  • Yerba del Manzo, sometimes referred to simply as yerba manza, has antimicrobial properties and can be used for colds and phlegm
  • Inmortal Root, a native perennial wildflower, can provide relief for sinus problems.

We also like to pull the sap off of piñon tress when we’re out gathering wood. It can be used to pull out splinters. One should also gather Rosehip for Vitamin C during the winter months and include it in teas. Another herb worth mentioning is Canutillo (Mormon Tea) which is used for urinary tract problems. And of course there’s the ever popular Osha root. Picked in September and October, it supports healthy immune function and should be used at the first sign of infection.

The best thing a person can do for themselves is begin each morning with a warm tea with lemon, which helps to stimulate our body organs that are responsible for detoxifying. Dandelion or Burdock with lemon and real honey or stevia would be very helpful to anyone. It is always best to treat the body at its root in the liver so the kidneys and other organs can work properly.

If possible, drink warm teas all day long. This can also be done in the summer if you include remedios in cold drinks. They can be very good if you learn to fix them according to your taste preferences. Your body will benefit greatly and clean blood will flow throughout your body with good oxygen moving out toxins.

The spring brings Plumajillo (yarrow) early and then the cycle of green begins again. Energy in the plant will move upward to the leaves. It has many uses but is most commonly used to heal wounds.

It is a good idea to keep a book with photos and details of remedios in a truck that you will use in the mountains. They can be wild-crafted all year long, so it’s important to know when it’s appropriate to pick certain herbs. In informational herbs books, you should read the “caution” statements for any contraindications or general use concerns, but the majority are safe when used properly.

Using remedios needs to become a way of living and they will work over time if continued. There is no doubt that they are the basis for active ingredients in pharmaceutical medications today, but they are often synthetic versions of herbs and are mixed into chemicals, which can contradict their purpose. Tell your doctor when you are on lots of medications what herbs you are taking. Also, see an herbalist before letting the western medicine world discourage you from drinking remedios as they can greatly benefit our health.

Remedios are not just for oral consumption. They can also be used in baths, salves, balms, poultices, oils, tinctures, aromatherapy, capsules, decoctions, infusions and much more. Plants come from within the earth in which we are given all we need.

Isabel Trujillo works at the Pueblo de Abiquiu Library and Culture Center where she helps facilitate workshops and cultural activities for the local youth. Most recently she has participated in the Sembrando Semillas program helping to pilot acequia and agriculture-related activities in Abiquiu. Along with her husband, Virgil, she has a ranching background that keeps her connected to the acequias and the issues that acequias and farmers/ranchers face.