Santa Maria (Tagetes lucida, pericón, hierbanis, yerbanís, Mexican marigold, Mexican tarragon) has anti-fungal and antibacterial, antidepressant, antioxidant and analgesic,and anti-inflammatory properties. Santa Maria is used in traditional medicine to treat diarrhea, abdominal pains, respiratory infections, rheumatism, and inflammatory skin diseases. Santa Maria has psychoactive properties and is used to relax nerves.
BOTANICAL NAME: TAGETES LUCIDA
COMMON NAMES: MEXICAN MARIGOLD, PERICON, YERBANIZ, SWEET MACE , SANTA MARIA
WHAT IS PERICON?
This herb is native to Mexico and Central America, and is used as both a medicinal plant and for culinary purposes. The leaves have a distinct flavor with both hints of tarragon and anise. Although both the French variety and the Mexican variety may be called ‘tarragon’, the leaves have nothing in common as the French leaves tend to be bluish green in hue whereas the Mexican variety is a shiny green. In summer, one can spot tiny clusters of yellow flowers on the stems as well. The Aztecs who were well versed with the medicinal properties of many herbs are believed to have used this plant to make a powder that could stun and sedate victims who were about to be sacrificed alive to the Gods. In terms of the medical benefits, this herb was used for all sorts of illnesses such as curing the common cold, malaria, bringing down sudden spurts in body temperature and also for treating colic pain in infants. A poultice made from the crushed leaves of the plants and flowers could also be applied to the skin for effective treatment of swellings and bites of all kinds. The dried leaves were often taken internally and it is said that it was very beneficial in treating many digestive system related concerns. We credit the discovery of chocolate to the Aztecs and Mayans and the dried flowers of the Pericon were often used to add a hint of spice to the drink. It’s possible that a hot chocolate drink served with the essence of the flowers could relax a person and even make him feel sleepy.
BENEFITS OF PERICON
This plant acts as a natural bug repellant and can even protect a garden from weeds and crop eating worms. Its natural properties means that it can also be burned for incense in a house as well. Even today, the Tagetes is used to treat a host of digestive tract concerns like lack of appetite, flatulence, dysentery and even intestinal worms. It can also be used to bring some relief to sore eyes and protect women against miscarriage, when they are pregnant. An oil which is extracted from the leaves is very effective in treating skin problems such as eczema and can also treat open infections and maggots found in sore wounds. Along with the ability to put one’s mind at ease, it can also reduce blood pressure effectively. The oil which is extracted is an important component that is found in many perfumes and sometimes the crushed flowers are added to chicken feed too. The leaves are also used as a natural flavoring agent in different kinds of food products.
HOW TO CONSUME PERICON?
The leaves can be consumed fresh and used to season meat or even added to green salads. The flowers can also be brewed to make a fresh tea that has a fragrant scent and which tastes great too. If you would like to store the leaves for longer, make sure you keep them in an airtight container in a cool dark place.