The native herb yerba mansa, translated from Spanish as the “calming herb,” has been used medicinally for centuries throughout the Southwest by American Indians and Hispanics to treat ailments ranging from toothaches to sinus infections.
The plant has been described by local residents as magical, its qualities almost mythical.
Though the herb is relatively unknown outside the region, experts in the medicinal herb industry say yerba mansa could become as popular as goldenseal and echinacea.
But before the ancient medicinal herb can get its day in the sun, researchers must find a way to protect the ecologically threatened plant from depletion by habitat loss and urban development.
Charles Martin, a researcher at New Mexico State University’s Sustainable Agriculture Science Center, has found a solution. He has made yerba mansa a viable agricultural crop for New Mexico’s small farmers.
With antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, yerba mansa contains a bounty of purported health benefits.
Also called yerba del manso, lizard tail or swamp root, the small plant with large white flower spikes is a perennial native to riverbanks and wetlands in the Southwest and northern Mexico.
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