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Calea ternifolia (syn. Calea zacatechichi) is a species of flowering plant in the aster family, Asteraceae. It is native to Mexico and Central America. Its English language common names include bitter-grass, Mexican calea, and dream herb.
It is used in traditional medicine and ritual in its native range.
In Mexico the plant is used as an herbal remedy for dysentery and fever. The Zoque Popoluca people call the plant tam huñi (“bitter gum”) and use it to treat diarrhea and asthma, and the Mixe people know it as poop taam ujts (“white bitter herb”) and use it for stomachache and fever.
The Chontal people of Oaxaca reportedly use the plant, known locally as thle-pela-kano, during divination. Isolated reports describe rituals that involve smoking a plant believed to be this species, drinking it as a tea, and placing it under a pillow to induce divinatory or lucid dreams due to its properties as an oneirogen. Zacatechichi, the former species name, is a Hispanicized form of the Nahuatl word “zacatl chichic” meaning “bitter grass”. Users take the plant to help them remember their dreams; known side effects include nausea and vomiting related to the taste and mild-to-severe allergic reaction.
Chemical compounds isolated from this species include flavones such as acacetin and sesquiterpene lactones such as germacranolides. The sesquiterpenes known as caleicines and caleochromenes may be active in its effects on sleep.
Calea zacatechichi has been classified as an herbal oneirogen, which is a plant that produces or enhances dream-like states of consciousness.
Meadowsweet has a long and distinguished history of medicinal use and is mentioned in some of the most famous literary works of the middle ages. It was one of the three herbs held to be most sacred by the Celtic druids and was used to flavour mead – hence the name.
Health benefits include: pain relief due to a rich content of salicylic acid, digestive aid, anti-inflammatory, immune system support, astringent, natural insect repellent and disinfectant.
In 1897, the German drug company Bayer synthesised salicin based on meadowsweet; the new drug was named Aspirin derived from the old botanical name for meadowsweet.
Meadowsweet is used in love spells and is strewn about the home to bring peace and joy. Meadowsweet is an herb of happiness. An ingredient of love spells, its flowers are steeped in wine and herb beers. Place it in the bridal bouquet and in the chalice at handfastings.
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Important Note: Information on the traditional uses and properties of herbs are provided on this site is for educational use only, and is not intended as medical advice. If you have any serious health concerns, you should always check with your health care practitioner before self-administering herbs.