Yerba Mansa, also known as lizard tail and yerba del pasmo, is a spreading, perennial groundcover in the Saururaceae family. It’s native to the Southwestern United States and Mexico, flourishing in arid climates in areas with plenty of water. In the wild it is typically found growing in wet marshy areas such as by streams. The plant has large, waxy, spinach like green leaves that lay flat and form mats that from a distance are reminiscent of pasture. The blueish green leaves of Yerba Mansa become spotted with red and black in the fall, and typically die back completely in winter. The plants bear a prominent, spring and summer blooming conical white flower, made up of a small cluster of tiny yellow stamens and pistils hidden among white petal-like bracts. The dry, prickly reddish-brown seedpods persist for several months. The plant spreads and propagates itsself by cordlike runner roots that appear white when young, growing brown and barky as they age. Yerba Mansa has a distinctive, clean and spicy fragrance when the leaves are crushed, similar to wild ginger and eucalyptus. It’s tolerant of extreme desert heat, high elevation cold, brackish water, seasonal flooding, and alkaline, sandy, and clay soil conditions.
Roots and Leaves
Yerba Mansa is a carminative, astringent, and antiemetic, useful for treating diarrhea, dysentery, malarial fevers, indigestion and digestive weakness, coughs, and pulmonary affections. It can be made into a spicy tea drunk regularly to purify the blood and to treat rheumatoid arthritis and swellings. A tea of yerba mans also helps heal ulcers and sores in body’s mucus membranes such as the mouth, throat, sinuses, vagina, and intestines. In particular, yerba mansa seems most effective in treating slow-healing, chronic conditions effecting these areas of the body. It’s an astringent that it tonifies the mucous membranes, helps expel matter that inhibits proper tissue repair, and improves the transport of fluids, as noted in Mother McHaul’s Herbal. It’s also useful for treating vaginitis, candida, and hemorrhoids. When powdered, the roots make a good topical dressing for cuts, scrapes, diaper rash, and chapped skin. It also makes a good bath soak for aching muscles and tired feet. Cold, the soak has a cooling anesthetic effect good for blisters, insect bites, and sunburn. It also helps alleviate seasonal allergies.
A traditional herbal remedy of southwestern native american tribes to sooth irritated skin and membranes, both externally and internally. The fresh leaves were often applied to swollen limbs for relief, and a tea of the leaves was used to relieve colic in babies. It was also used for children to lower nighttime fevers. The Cahuilla indians chewed the roots to ease sore throats, and used the dried, powdered roots on wounds to disinfect them. Native Americans of the Southwest and Mexico considered it a cure-all. Michael Moore, a prominent Southwestern herbalist, suggests that if “properly managed, substituting Yerba Mansa could take some of the pressure off of the market for golden seal…Although Yerba Mansa is not related to golden seal chemically or botanically it can be used similarly to treat inflammation of the mucous membranes, swollen gums and sore throat”
Flavor Profile and Energetics
Bitter, astringent, warm
4-6 grams of herb infused in 1 cup of hot water, drunk 3 times a day, or 2-4 dropper-fulls of tincture up to five times a day. Externally fresh leaves or powdered root can be applied as a poultice. Can be used as a nasal solution for hay-fever relief by mixing yerba mansa tincture, glycerine, and distilled water, as noted by Herbcraft in the Ellingswood Therapeutic.
For allergies and hayfever, combine with nettles, echinacea root, orange peel, elder flowers, and horseradish root.