US Army Retired

US Army Retired

Saturday, May 2, 2015


As part of researching my contemporary novel, Sonora Symphony, I came across the following plants found in the Sonora Desert that were used by healers. Later, when the Spanish arrived and began to intermix in the southwest, curanderos continued to use and expand the uses of the plants.

Homeopathic clinics have these available, to be perfectly honest, you can go to just about any supermarket or small store catering to Mexicans or other Latinos to find these available – most often pre-packaged.

Disclaimer: I am not a dietician or an expert of any form or nature about the preparation and use of these. I can only state that I have come to believe they work as the result of being married to a Mexican for the past 26 years. She regularly uses them and, when I pay attention and do what she tells me – they work for me.

Here is a link to a guide to Sonora Desert plants @

good for diabetes and lowers cholesterol, fresh leaves added to a salad.

American Mistletoe
Indians of Mendocino County drank a tea of the leaves to induce abortion or to prevent conception. Also, seeds/pods crushed and ground into flour for mush or cakes

Antelope Sage
To prevent conception, Navajo women drank one cup of a decoction of boiled antelope sage root during menstruation.

a form helps breathe, eases cold symptoms, stops sneezing from allergies, and assists those who wish to lose weight.

Broom Snakeweed Navajo women drank a tea of the whole plant to promote the expulsion of the placenta.
They chewed the stem and applied the resin to insect bites and stings of all kinds.

Hopi women were given an infusion of the entire buckwheat plant to stop bleeding

Buffalo gourd
a good vegetable to add to stew, the older becoming bitter. Seeds ground to thicken soups while roots are good sweeteners in puddings – with care. Also rids people and animals of tapeworms. Leaves, stems, and roots as a laxative and a poultice for treating skin sores and ulcers. Also removes stain from clothing. More @

Cactus fruits
Prickly pear, saguaro, and organ pipe can be candied. Some tend to be a bit on the bitter side.

Coral bean
very poisonous but good in a poultice to ease pain of severe arthritis

Corn silk
treat bladder infections, ease kidney stones, and painful urination. Has a diuretic for bed-wetting and obesity. Just pour water over the tassels and let them sit five or ten minutes – add honey to remove bitterness. More @

Creosote Bush
A tea of the leaves was used for bronchial and other respiratory problems. Bush steeped to make a poultice to ease severe arthritis pain. As this bush keeps others at a distance, it makes a good fence around a garden,.

Datura – Sacred thorn apple – a very poisonous plant used in certain rituals

Desert yellow bush
for dye and to eat

Fendler Bladderpod
The Navajos made a tea and used it to treat spider bites

The Cherokees drank a decoction of the coarse, leafy, perennial herb to cure fevers

Indian Paintbrush
Hopi women drank a tea of the whole Indian paintbrush to "Dry up the menstrual flow."

Jimson Weed/loco weed/ Tolache
hallucinogenic which, if improperly used, can be fatal. However, used properly, can treat asthma, intestinal cramps, diarrhea, an bed-wetting. (I'm sure everyone know not to let your horses or mules eat this - they go loco on it.)

Juniper berries
help cure urinary tract infections. Added to huckleberry (bérbero) lowers blood sugar. May act as a contraceptive.

the little apple berries can be dried and then ground into a healthy, but coarse meal. And the berries and tips of the branches can be soaked in water to be drunk as a refreshing cider. And when the bark curls off, it can be used as a tea to help an uneasy stomach. If it is the right time of the year, one can pluck the young leaves and chew on them to keep thirst away. There are both the bright red and whitish types

Mescal bean
extremely deadly, sometimes used to kill rats and other rodents.

Mesquite beans and bark
mash beans into flour and add vanilla or honey to make pinole. Taproots make outstanding wood for fires. Mesquite seeds made into flour or used to control blood sugar levels.

Mexican broom
chewing the leaves ease tooth ache.

Navajo women drank a tea prepared of the whole plant after childbirth.

Mormon Tea – ephedra
seeds ground into meal for mush, bread, and cakes along with tea for coughs, headaches, colds, fever, and kidney ailments. Also for asthma, weight loss, athletic performance, as well as cold and allergy medications. But, high amounts may cause heart attack or stroke. Joe tells how various birds make nests of the cacti whose thorns keep them free of predators while eating insects that would hurt the plants.

Oral milk thistle extract stops colorectal cancer stem cells from growing tumors
Date: April 20, 2015 Source: University of Colorado Denver
Summary: A new study shows that orally administering the chemical silibinin, purified from milk thistle, slows the ability of colorectal cancer stem cells to grow the disease. When stem cells from tumors grown in silibinin-fed conditions were re-injected into new models, the cells failed to develop equally aggressive tumors even in the absence of silibinin.

Pine bark
eases heart problems and helps blood circulation.

Piñon nuts
grind and add to masa for tortillas.

Prickly pear leaves – nopal
treats diabetes, lowering cholesterol, prostate reduction, and weight loss

Ragleaf Bahia
The Navajos, who called the Ragleaf bahia herb twisted medicine, drank a tea of the roots boiled in water for thirty minutes for contraception purposes.

The Navajos chewed the stems and placed the pulpy mash on areas of swelling caused by ant, bee and wasp bites. The Zunis applied the dried, powdered roots and flowers mixed with saliva to ant bites.

Soapberry – jaboncillo
makes a good soap.

Shoshoni women of Nevada reportedly drank a cold water infusion of stoneseed roots everyday for six months to ensure permanent sterility.

Tepary beans
a good staple and can be made into bhujia, a sweet snack.

A favorite remedy for bee stings was the application of wet tobacco leaves.

White Pine
The inner bark was used by Indian people as a tea for colds and coughs

The Pomo tribe boiled the inner root bark, then drank strong doses of the resulting tea to induce sweating in cases of chills and fever. In the south, the Natchez prepared their fever remedies from the bark of the red willow, while the Alabama and Creek Indians plunged into willow root baths for the same purpose. Willow branches good for brushing teeth. Steeped to make potion to ease stomach cramps, looseness of the bowels, disentería, and dandruff.

Yucca root
makes excellent soap.

All one has to do is conduct a search for any of these plants and you will find more about their uses and how to make the most of them.

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