When my relatives visited for Mothers' Day one year, they did not leave me empty handed! off to the Farmers' Market we all went, to see the Herb Lady!
From the back of her station wagon, Mrs O'Sullivan displayed hundreds of varieties of Geranium, pot herbs (some rare) and bustlingly lively orange-blooming Shrimp plant.
It took me only a few minutes to discover a plant that I had never seen mentioned before, in any of the magazines, books, even herbals.
My delicate parcel of Ginger Mint and my new, foreign Aztec Sweet Herb (Phyla scaberrima -"The Cough Remedy Plant") was soon after the folks' visit to be caringly planted in sweet, hot May soil.
I have been an herbal adventurer, and I was delighted to nibble on the wonder of Gods' Creation; the Aztec creeping plant flower is one thousand five hundred times sweeter* than sugar.
The leaves and odd-shaped button flowers (About 3/4 of an inch long) taste like licorice, sugar and mint in combination.
As an herbal "nip", one bloom is a pleasurable garden snack, which quickly exits garden bugs from your throat and nose.
The plant is a greyish green colour, growing runners very swiftly in the heat of summer. It makes an excellent hanging basket plant.
Animals might grow runners of this in the caves and canyons of this area. Most probably, this plant was quite good for them, I thought.
Better yet, it was good for me, and although my own resulting recipe is a real secret, I found that I could make a great cough syrup, which I called "smokers" cough syrup. One teaspoon radically cleared bugs and mucus from my throat, and it felt very comfortable. My recipe was just delicious. I have, though, discovered that some qualities of Aztec Sweet Herb to be advised about are tranquilizing, and drowsiness.
Common names: Yierba dulce, yierba buena, neuctixihuitl,Tzonpelic xihuitl, orozuz,orozul,salvia santa,corronchoco.
Aztec Sweet herb is more often known as Lippia dulcis, but Harold Moldenke, who wrote the natural monograph of Verbenaceae,(Lippia dulcis is a member of this family) feels the correct name should be Phylla scaberrima
The Greek for tribe (phylla) means "compound flower heads", and in Latin, scaberrima means "most rough".
source most likely for this information: ^ Jump up to: a b "Phyla dulcis (Trevir.) Moldenke". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2002-12-17. Retrieved 2010-01-22.(from Wikipedia)
LINK re scaberrima is: scaberrima from www.ars.grin.gov
In Belize, located in the heart of Central America, this plant is a fave folk remedy for bronchitis and dry, hacking coughs.The fresh plant material is boiled, and the patient holds his head over the pot of steaming herb. The warm mixture is then strained and sipped slowly. For toothaches, the flowers are chewed or placed directly on the gum.
A drug from Aztec Sweet Herb (for instance, Lippiol) is used as a stimulating expectorant, the tincture, in doses of ˝ to 1 fluid drachm, is given as a respiratory sedative for coughs. It acts as an alterative on the mucous membrane.
The Sweet Herb of the Aztes is perennial. Commonly known as Aztec Sweet Herb, Yerba Dulce, HoneyHerb, Tzopelic-xihuitl and Bushy Lippia, its real botanical name is Phyla scaberrima syn lippia dulcis. The herb gets its name from the Spanish physician, Francisco Hernández, who first wrote about the herb in the 16th century.
The Herb was used for medicinal purposes in Mexico since the period of the Aztecs.
Belonging to the verbenaceae family, the Sweet Herb of the Aztes is closely related to Mexican Oregano. This plant is native to Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America.
Sweet leaves of Aztec Sweet Herb are often used for sweetening candies or they are tossed into fruit salads.
"The Sweet Herbs of the Aztecs has been historically used as a medicinal herb and natural sweetener in Mexico and Central America."
Medicinally, it has inhibitory effects on enterobacteria. People in the Caribbean islands, Central and South American used the herb for treating colds, asthma, bronchitis, colic and to induce menstruation. NB: If Aztec Sweet Herb induces menstruation, it is an abortifascient. An abortifascient is great for hurrying small creatures out of ones' anatomy, but not so hot for pregnant women, to be sure!
Its' sweet taste is due to its active compound, hernandulcin, discovered in 1985.
Non toxic Hernandulcin is in non flowering parts,raw leaves scented with camphor. Camphor is toxic to small children and causes vomiting, central nervous system depression, and coma; is an abortifascient, possibly from the camphor. Not recommended, does not have GRAS status.
Leaves contain bispolane sesquiterpene, hernandulcin, as 0.0004% of dried herb. Essential oil is 53 % camphor and 16% camphene, providing the odour.
"Hernandulcin is a sesquiterpene with the molecular formula C15H24O2. By slightly modifying the compound, researchers have identified the three parts of the chemical structure that produced the intense the sweet taste - the carbonyl group, and the hydroxyl group, and the hydrophobic side chain. Hernandulcin was the first sesquiterpene found to be sweet, and after a panel of volunteers tasted hernandulcin, it was determined that it was more than 1,000 times sweeter than sugar. Hernandulcin also has a minty aftertaste, and does not cause tooth decay, which would make it a good candidate for oral hygiene products."3
Plants from Cuba have 11% beta carotene and 9% 6 -methyl- 5- hepten- 2- one but only a trace of camphor.
Here, though: up to 53% of Sweet Herbs' essential oil is camphor**, and is wrong for children. So, don't encourage your kids to avoid sweets in favour of these blossoms. It is a poison to children. It is perhaps better to rub some of these in your hands and wave them in front of a childs' nose from about ten inches away, if you feel an insect may have wandered in.
In contemporary folk medicine of southern Mexico, Aztec Sweet Herb is also used as an aid to abortion.
Like sugar or many medicinal herbs, please treat nature with the respect it deserves. you, yourself, are part of that nature. Just as one does not overdo the ingestion of sugary foods, an herb with not only sweetening properties, but expectorant properties should be used in true moderation. If it is 1,000 times sweeter than sugar, use it 1,000 times less than sugar.
I also feel that the tropical nature of Mexico and the Central and South Americas has provided its inhabitants with remedies suitable for the more invasive insects and bacteria, and is therefore a little more radical an herb than mint tea or maple syrup, which work very well for North Americans.
"An expectorant increases bronchial secretions and mucolytics help loosen thick bronchial secretions. Expectorants reduce the thickness or viscosity of bronchial secretions thus increasing mucus flow that can be removed more easily through coughing. Mucolytics break down the chemical structure of mucus molecules. The mucus becomes thinner and can be removed more easily through coughing." from Wikipedia:—Adams, Holland, & Bostwick, 2008, p. 591
Lippia dulcis does not have a GRAS listing; G.R.A.S. is defined by Wikipedia as "Generally Recognized as Safe"
The substance must be shown to be "generally recognized" as safe under the conditions of its intended use. The proponent of the exemption has the burden of proving that the use of the substance is "generally recognized" as safe. To establish such recognition, the proponent must show that there is a consensus of expert opinion regarding the safety of the use of the substance. The existence of a severe conflict among experts regarding the safety of a substance precludes a finding of general recognition.
Failure to qualify
When a use of a substance does not qualify for the GRAS exemption, that use of the substance is subject to the premarket approval mandated by the FFDCA (Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, FD&C Act). In such circumstances, the FDA can take enforcement action to stop distribution of the food substance and foods containing it on the grounds that such foods are or contain an unlawful food additive.
GRAS by FDA:
SEE ALSO: FDA poison plant database, how to use?
Example: searching "oregano"- links to articles about follow on this page: Oregano
ps: No, I won't publish my cough remedy, because, for better or worse, I gave it to a Pharmacist. My treat.