6 Latinx Herbalists Share Their Favourite Remedios Caseros For Seasonal Sickness
These days, more Latinx folks have been decolonizing their lifestyles and reclaiming ancestral healing practices like Indigenous spirituality or herbal medicine. Winter is officially here, and what a great time to rekindle ancestral connections by using plants that our predecessors may have used in their homelands.
Our communities are recognizing and embracing the knowledge of our ancestors, which for years was ignored and stigmatised. We are reclaiming these lost rituals that we’ve been conditioned for centuries to believe are bad. Not only are these holistic practices good for nourishing and healing our bodies, but many Latinxs folks are finding themselves empowered by these practices, as they connect them to their native lands and their ancestors.
We spoke to several Latinx herbalists who shared their favourite remedios caseros (homemade remedies) to use as we transition to colder weather.
Juliet Diaz's Sopa de Pollo
Many Latinx families have their own special homemade remedies to battle seasonal sickness that have been passed through generations. Taíno Cubana bruja and author Juliet Diaz, enjoys preparing a sopa de pollo (chicken soup) passed from her great-grandmother to boost immunity. Diaz comes from a family line of curanderas and knows how the healing benefits of this sopa have withstood the test of time.
The flavourful broth of this sopa de pollo will soothe the throat and hydrate the body. The chicken, fideo (noodles), yuca, and potatoes will keep the body full and satisfied with protein and carbohydrates, while onions, garlic, and carrots bring vitamins C and K and antioxidants into the immune system. When imbuing remedios like these with spiritual intention, it can create a healing that goes beyond the body, as we remember ancestors who used these same ingredients for their own survival and care.
“My go-to is kitchen recipes like my great grandmother’s chicken healing soup that many Cuban people make when we feel sick. My ancestors live through me, and through me they feel joy, they feel loved, and they will claim back everything that has been taken from them through this very vessel of mine,” Diaz said in an email with POPSUGAR. “We are not walking alongside our ancestors, we are our ancestors. They are helping us remember and through remembrance we are able to find ourselves, heal deeply, decolonise, and bring honour to our Spirit.”
Lara Pacheco's Elderberry and Rosehip Tea
It’s common cold and flu season, but drinking an elderberry and rosehip herbal tea is a great way to boost your immune system, according to Taíno Boricua herbalist Lara Pacheco. Plants guided Pacheco to the path of uniting with the land and their ancestors and as a result, they founded Seed and Thistle Apothecary, an educational resource to supports folks in reclaiming their ancestral traditions around plant medicine.
Indigenous communities have been using the flowers, leaves, berries, and wood of elderberry for thousands of years to battle fever and rheumatism. Both elderberries and rosehips are full of antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties useful in soothing the body aches that come with a cold. Pacheco recommends keeping the traditional knowledge alive by asking your grandparents for their favourite remedies.
“Do what your abuela, or ‘Tata’ as we called her, said.” Pacheco said. “Your DNA is made up of your ancestors and their experiences. We’re all trying to navigate how to feel grounded and connected, and remembering what our ancestors endured is a part of reclaiming that strength. To be connected to entities outside of yourself can also feel really hard and sad sometimes, but the key is not being stuck, so relying on non-human entities and human ones can help us to move these emotions. We really can’t do any of it alone.”
Robyn Moreno's Healing Mexican Hot Chocolate
For many people, winter means experiencing seasonal depression from the lack of warmth, sunlight, and vitamin D. But curandera Robyn Moreno battles the winter blues with a sweet treat that spreads cheer in her home.
“I love Mexican hot chocolate in winter for my physical and mental health,” Moreno said. “Many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder and homemade hot chocolate is full of antioxidants and mood-boosting compounds.” Moreno is familiar with feeling what she refers to as “a crisis of spirit.” Years ago, this initial sentiment led her to a class on curanderismo, in which she understood and connected to the wisdom of the practices of her Mexican great-grandmother. She deepened her study of plant medicine with the help of Black, Indigenous, and Latinx teachers, eventually hosting workshops and writing her own book Get Rooted (June 2022), as a resource for people who are on their own journey to spirit.
Suhaly Bautista-Carolina's Dominican Fire Cider
Afro-Dominicana herbalist Suhaly Bautista-Carolina enjoys making Fire Cider, a sweet-and-spicy medicinal tonic, in advance of seasonal changes when our immune systems are likely to be compromised, so the cider’s herbs and vegetables have a full moon cycle (27.5 days on average) to stew in apple cider vinegar.
Suhaly grew up with her AfroKisqueyan mother, who often left bubbling pots of food and plant medicines on the stove in their Brooklyn home. Today she is proud to contribute her medicine and knowledge to new generations as owner of Moon Mother Apothecary. In her fire cider, ingredients like pungent peppers, garlic, ginger, horseradish and onion fill the body with antioxidants, clear airways, and improve digestion.
“I recommend 1-2 tbsps daily when you’re feeling healthy and using this tonic to build immunity. When I’m feeling sick, I double the dosage. It can be taken straight or mixed into juices,” Bautista-Carolina says. “I usually make a few big batches, one for my family and loved ones, and another for the online shop at Moon Mother Apothecary. It’s also the perfect plant medicine for the creative kitchen witch, since there’s not just one way to make it. I start with an old recipe, figure out what we are needing more of, and make the appropriate additions from there. Fire cider is very intuitive, and everyone will have a different version in the end.”
Yaquí Rodriguez's Aloe Vera & Onion Cold Remedio
When it comes to battling seasonal sickness, mothers seem to know the perfect remedies to nourish the body. Dominican-American curandera and consejera Yaquí Rodriguez grew up with her Dominican mother, who gave her and her siblings a special aloe vera and red onion blend to fight colds.
As the founder of Wave of Healing, Rodriguez works to help others heal through plant medicine and ancestral reconnection. While the taste of this cough syrup is more pungent, the red onions are packed with vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that helps boost the immune system. They also help fight off bacteria. Honey’s soothing properties help relieve a sore throat while aloe vera works as a natural anti-inflammatory that helps balance the body, fight inflammation, colds, and bacteria. The concoction of all these ingredients works as an amazing immunity-boosting cold syrup perfect for the winter days ahead.
“Lime is known to cleanse negative energy. Onions energetically absorb sickness or malignant energy, and honey brings sweetness and fluidity,” Rodriguez said in an email with POPSUGAR. “The reclamation of curanderismo and plant medicine is a remembering that already lives deep in our bones. It’s a form of healing justice. We have the opportunity to undo so much generational harm. We are able to honour the work of our ancestors, to be in the right relationship with each other, the earth and all its inhabitants with the awareness that we are all one.”
Dani Solorio's Mullein Smoking Blend Remedy
Congestion affects many folks this time of year, and although it may seem paradoxical, smoking particular herbal blends can clear mucus clogging the throat and sinuses. According to herbalist Dani Solorio, mullein is an effective herb that has been traditionally used for relieving respiratory issues and is a common ingredient in cough syrups and cough drops. Solorio has spent the past several years of their life working to bring Indigenous knowledge and accessible medicine to their community as the founder of Compton Health Bar in California. Born in Zacápu, (located in Michoacán), Mexico, they aim to restore the connections between people and plants, as well as with ancestors.
“So many of us come from cultures that are very connected to the earth,” Solorio said in an interview with POPSUGAR. “When we start using something as simple as making a tea for ourselves, it starts bringing back memories, whether the memory is my grandma or a family gathering or just chisme. It helps us reclaim that connection once you start feeling the connection with the plant itself. Plants are connected to us; we are one being. Reestablishing that connection to our ancestors through plants helps our psyche reconnect with our true essence, and I think it brings us into balance and into our best health when we discover and strengthen that connection.”