Anemopsis californica is a small perenial plant, growing in form of rosettes of leaves that create clusters. As the latin name indicate it is native to southwest coast of USA, but also Nevada, Arizona, Texas and north Mexico. It have been used for centuries as a healing herb by indigenous people and some of them regarded it as a panaceum. Today it is respected as a valuable medicine, by many doctors from other regions as well, as scientific researches proved its effectivnes. Its common name is Yerba Mansa, yerba means herb in spanish, and mansa means gentle, calm, which might refer to its soothing, antinflammatory properties as well as its action against stomach infections. Whole plant is rich in essential oils which is given it its unique, strong, spicy fragnance, that in sunny days can be smelt from distance. This smell is a bit similar to eucaliptus, as both plants contain significant amounts of the same chemical compound called methyleugenol.
CULTIVATION AND HARVESTING
Anemopsis is a low growing perenial plant, with rosettes of leaves and flower stems coming out straight from its fleshy root. It grow no more than 40cm in hight, but thru its stolons with new small clumps of leaves, rooting quicky, it spreads creating big colonies. Even though this plant grows mostly in dessert areas, it is allways in boggy places, near ponds or rivers, often temporally partialy immersed. On the other hand it can stand severe droughts in short term. It likes alkaline soils and it is said to tolerate saline and slightly acidic ground as well. Leaves are turning red and dying before winter to shoot back from its root in early spring. It tolerate frosts to -15'C as well as strong heats. Yerba Mansa prefers light shade but copes very well in full sun. Flowers in summer. Roots should be gathered no sooner than in second year, after leaves turn dead dry or in early spring before new leaves come out. Leaves are best to pick for drying while plants are producing flowers.
Aromatic leaves and roots of Anemopsis californica can be eaten fresh or cooked. Seeds can be grounded and used as a flour. Tea made from leaves or roots of Yerba Mansa can be drink as a tonic and is consider a panacea.
Yerba Mansa have not only long tradiction of use in herbal medicine, but also high esteem in modern medicine, due to its many values proven by clinic and laboratory tests. Its medical actions are mainly coused by essential oils, that differ significantly between leaves and roots and also noticibly vary acording to chemotype origin. Both parts are astringent, antiseptic, vulnerary, antifungal, analgesic, stomachic, carminative, anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, anti-emetic, general tonic and blood purifing.
Leaves essential oil contain elemicin (53%), piperitone (11,5%), methyleugenol (6,9%), (E)-caryophyllene (4,6%), 1,8-cineole (2,5%), alpha-pinene and beta-phellandrene. Fresh pounded leaves are applied on abrasions, cuts, burns, insect bites, ringworms, aching muscles, skin ulcers and for rheumatism. Infusions are used for colds, chest congestions, blood purification and stomach ulcers or to bathe aching muscles, sore feet and veneral infections. Dried, poudered leaves and roots can be applied on wounds, and athletes foot.
Roots are rich in esssential oil that contain methyleugenol (57%), thymol (13,8%), piperitone (8%), isoeugenol, cymene, limonene, alpha-pinene, 1,8-cineole, myrtenol, elemicin. Roots are chewed for toothache, infalmmations of gums, throat and affections of mucous membranes. Infusion from roots is used for colds, flu, malaria, inflammations, bronchial cough, pleurisy, tuberculosis, gonorrhea, typhoid, dysentery, arthrisis, menstrual cramps, urinary tract infections and as a general pain remedy. Externaly it is applied on wounds, sores and syphylis. Scientific tests proved its bioactivity against uterine and cervical cancer cell lines.