One of the many herbs mentioned in Bless Me Ultima, was the yerba del manso or anemopsis. Tony, first saw this plant when he went to collect plants with Ultima, for her remedies. She used this herb for many things, as it proved to have many benefits to the body. “Of all the plants we gathered none was endowed with so much magic as the yerba del mansoAnemopsis. It could cure burns, sores, piles, colic in babies, bleeding dysentery and even rheumatism” (Anaya 39). This shows that anemopsis is a very benevolent and substantially “magical”, as Tony described it.
Anemopsis is a very peculiar-looking plant, coming from the Saururaceae family, it not only grows about 30.5 cm(1 foot) in length and has leaves half its size(5-15cm), but also has a spiky-textured cone at the top of it. Anemopsis has flowers at the bottom of the cone, the flower petals are usually white, cream, or red. The leaves and stem of the plant however, retain to a green, grayish color.
This plant can be very easily spotted as it grows in thick, moist marsh areas with semi-alkaline and rough soil, where not many plants are found. It grows mostly around California and is well-known for its cures and medical benefits. Speaking of cures and medical benefits, the yerba del manso cures the common cold and tuberculosis. It can also act as a painkiller, sanitizer, and tonic. It also prevents stomach and intestinal difficulties, as well as mild herpes, mild pharyngitis, vomiting, skin ulcers, and muscle pain. And yerba del manso is able to lessen inflammation, menstruation cramps, and sinusitis.
WebMD states that, “Yerba mansa is…used to make medicine…Yerba mansa is used for the common cold and related mucus production (catarrh), cough, throat problems, and tuberculosis.
It is also used for stomach and intestinal problems, including constipation; sexually transmitted diseases; skin problems; and cancer. Yerba mansa is also used as a pain-killer, disinfectant, and tonic. Some people use it to cause sweating or vomiting…There isn’t enough information to know how yerba mansa might work”(“WebMd”). This shows that even though anemopsis is an exceedingly useful plant, many medical companies do not know too much about it. Even though it seems that the herb can do no wrong, there are some concerns while dealing with this plant.
For example, it won’t work for pregnant or feeding women, or if the person has serious health issues. It is better to consult a specialist if yerba del manso cannot help. On the contrary, curanderas do still continue to utilize this herb, “where folks such as Ofelia Esparza, a former public school teacher with a passion for herbal remedies, tutored her on the fine points. Esparza was taught by a great-great aunt, who was a curandera. There was passiflora–passion flower–taken as a tea and helpful as a sleeping aid, and yerba mansa–swamp root or “gentle herb”–steeped in boiling water, then used as a soothing wash for skin irritations”(qtd. in Esparza).