Yerba Mansa

Yerba MansaYerba Mansa (Yerba Mansa)

Botanical Name: Anemopsis

Growing yerba mansa near your house protects you from evil spirits. The herb has a very low level of toxicity making it a useful herb for treating many conditions. It has been compared to the herb goldenseal as it has similar uses, though yerba mansa is considered safer to use and it has a different chemical makeup. Traditionally the herb is uses to treat colds and flus. To this day many local curanderas (Mexican traditional healers) include yerba mansa in their healing formulas. The plant is often said to have magical qualities that provide protection and give strength to the body, mind and spirit.

Below is an overview of Yerba Mansa, combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Yerba Mansa.

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Western Name: Yerba Mansa

Also Known As: Lizard Tail, Anemia California, Swamp root, Yerba Manza

Organs/Systems: Gastrointestinal, Lungs, Genitourinary

Key Actions: Antimicrobial, Antibacterial, Antifungal, Antiseptic, Anasthetic, Calming, Mucous Membrane Tonic, Diuretic, Astringent

Medicinal Uses: Colds, flus, irritated skin conditions, athlete’s foot, edema, bloating, anxiety, coughs, sinus infections, bladder infections, bruises.


Pin Yin: Yerba Mansa

Also Known As: N/A

Meridians: Lung, Kidney, Bladder, Stomach

Key Actions: Dispels Cold, Releases Wind, Tonifies the Spleen, Moves Qi, Breaks Up Stagnation, Clears the Skin

Medicinal Uses: Kidney and bladder stones, aches and pains due to obstructions, athletes foot, red itchy conditions.

Basic Habitat/Botany:

Yerba mansa flowers in early spring. Similar to sunflower family with a single bloom that is in fact a dense cluster of individual small flowers. The inflorescence is conical and has five to ten large white bracts beneath, with tiny white florets. The conical structure develops into a tough capsule that can be carried downstream spreading the tiny pepper-like seeds. Succulent leaves from 3” to 6” long, growing from the base. Flowers resemble cone-flowers with white spikes and white bracts at the base. Highly aromatic, similar to eucalyptus and bayberry. In fall plant turns brick red. Perennial.

Yerba mansa is native to Southwestern North America. It grows in the alkaline wetlands of New Mexico and boggy swamps and marshes, along the Colorado river and down in the Sonora and Chihuahua areas of Mexico.

Yerba Mansa Parts Most Frequently Used: Root, Rhizome, Leaf

Flavors/Temps: Pungent, Warming, Aromatic

Caution: Considered safe. Do not use if you experience any burning sensations, have acute inflammation, or stomach ulcers. Do not use if pregnant. It can be possible over sedating if mixed with anesthesia for surgeries.

History/Folklore: Yerba” is the Spanish word for herb and “Mansa” means calm or tranquil in Spanish, however the plant has no actual sedating properties nor was it ever used in this way by natives. Possibly the word “mansa” comes from the Manso Indians.

Native Americans likely introduced the plant to early Spanish settlers who came to view it as valuable for its medicinal and magical uses. As a plant that grows in the desert but near water, it is considered a plant of fire and water and is useful treating hot and wet conditions in the body.

The Chumash people of Southern California used the herbs to sooth coughs, skin sores and ulcers, and as a purifier to strengthen the body, mind and spirit. As a blood purifier, they used yerba mansa tea to treat asthma, kidney problems and a variety of skin ailments and to prevent infections caused by wounds or sores. Many local Native American tribes of the Southwest, where the plant can be found, used it to treat venereal disease, hemorrhoids, bleeding gums and host of other ailments.

Yerba mansa’s ability to assist with mucous membrane congestion makes it a good herb to use for treating stomach ulcerations, mucous in the stools or arthritis. It is a versatile herb, and can be taken orally as a tea, tincture, infusion or in dried capsule form. It can also be used in creams, ointments, or in powdered form.

Yerba mansa is considered milder and less tannic then the herb uva ursi is so it can be used longer without upsetting the stomach.

An infusion of the roots can be taken as a diuretic to treat rheumatic diseases like gout through its ability to rid the body of excess uric acid. Yerba mansa also prevents the build up of uric acid crystals in the kidneys that can cause kidney stones.

As a tea the taste is spicy and numbing. Some find it soothing and calming and some hate its medicinal taste. 2-4 leaves are used per cup of water, taken several times a day over a few days, but not every day as it is a medicinal herb and not just a tonic herb that can be taken daily to help prevent conditions.

In Los Cruses, New Mexico folks use it as poultice to relieve muscle swelling and inflammation. An infusion made of the roots is used as a diuretic. They also use the dried plants as an ingredient in potpourri mixtures.

It can be used as a nasal spray to relieve inflammation of the nose and sinuses, or a gargle for sore throat. Use 30-60 drops up to 5x daily and as a decoction use 1 ounce of the herb to 1 quart of water. Dosage is 1/4 to 1/2 cup up to 5x daily.

While the plant can be collected any time of year, the roots will be strongest when gathered in the fall and winter when foliage has dried back. The roots are then allowed to dry for several weeks before using.

Key Constituents:

Saponins, Choline,  d-Abscisin II, Vitamin C, Mannan, Phytic acid, Allantoin, Diosgenin, Mucilage, Starch, Sugar, Protein, Free amino acids, Amylase, Estrogen.
Did you know?

Eco-friendly Ground Cover

Yerba mansa is used in California desert areas, as turf in public parks, and as ground cover in gardens for it is environmentally friendly and uses little water.


Used in Bread

Yerba mansa’s seeds have been ground and included in recipes for making bread.
Fun fact!

Sooth Sores

Due to yerba mansa’s antibacterial and antifungal properties it makes an excellent medicine for sores and abrasions.

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