YERBA BUENA (MARSH MINT, PEPPER MINT)
The Yerba Buena plant is a creeping herb that rises to only 20 cm. (or 8 in.) from the ground. Its stems are fleshy or non-woody, and the leaves are coarse. This plant is also stronly aromatic. There is another creeping plant that is also called Yerba Buena. Known scientifically as Mentha arvensis L. and also commonly known as Poleo or Poliyo in some places, this non-medicinal Yerba Buena has narrower leaves and bears lilac flowers, while the medicinal Yerba Buena does not flower in the Philippines.
Yerba Buena is indicated or used primarily as pain reliever. The medical term for pain reliever is analgesic. As analgesic, it is effective for headaches, toothache, and pains caused by arthritis.
But Yerba Buena has other medicinal uses too, called its secondary indications. It is also used for gaseous distention and as mouthwash. Yerba Buena is best propagated using terminal stem cuttings. Cut the top end of mature stems consisting of three to four parts of leaves, maintaining a length of 10 to 15 cms. (4 to 6 in.), and plant them in containers or directly in plots. They will grow roots in a week’s time. The cuttings, if planted in containers, may be transplanted to plots two weeks after planting. It may also be planted near or between tall plants as it can tolerate partial shading. But avoid using chemical pesticides because they might leave poison on the plants.
The procedure for using Yerba Buena as pain reliever or analgesic is the same whether it’s for headache, toothache, or arthritis.
Preparing the decoction:
The amount of leaves you should use differs depending on whether the leaves are dried or fresh and on how old the patient is. Fresh leaves are washed first and then chopped coarsely, while air-dried leaves are crushed.
Condition of leaves
Age of patient Dried (crushed) Fresh (chopped)
Adult 4 tbsp. 6 tbsp.
7-12 years 2 tbsp. 3 tbsp.
After you have identified how much leaves to use, boil the leaves in 2 glasses of water for at least 15 minutes. This boiled mixture is called “decoction.”
Divide the decoction into two parts and take one part every three hours.
These are important rules to follow when boiling the leaves in water. Observe strictly
– Use only enameled container or claypot (”palayok”), never an aluminum pot.
– A standard glass or cup should contain 240 ml. or 8 fluid ounces of water. This measurement is the same as the content of a bottle of regular Pepsi or Coke.
– Mix leaves in water before placing on fire.
– As soon as the mixture boils, uncover the pot and let boil continuously for 15 minutes. Remember that the mixture should boil uncovered.
– Strain and let cool. You now have what is called a “decoction.”
– For headache, toothache, or arthritis take one-half (½) glass (standard glass or cup) of decoction every three hours, as needed.
When applied as fresh leaves:
– If the pain caused by headache, toothache, or arthritis is moderate and localized you may choose to just apply fresh Yerba Buena leaves on the affected part. Fresh leaves are heated, then pounded and applied on affected body part.
When used as mouthwash:
Aside from being medicinal, Yerba Buena is also a mouthwash. It is prepared as follows:
Soak tablespoonfuls of chopped fresh leaves in a glass of water for 30 minutes. Strain and use as mouthwash.
Harvesting and Storing Leaves:
It is best to harvest only the mature and healthy leaves. Make sure, though, that the plant is left with enough leaves to survive. If you wish, you may harvest excess leaves and air-dry them for storing. Air-drying takes place about four days on warm weather or about two weeks during the rainy season. Leaves are sufficiently dry if they crumble when crushed with the fingers.
Dried leaves should be sealed in plastic bag or kept in covered tinted glass jar. Keep leaves in a cool, dry place and away from direct sunlight to extend their storage life.
Source: Phil. Council for Health Research and Development (DOST)