Heimia salicifolia is a flowering shrub of the Loosestrife family. It is native to the Americas, including both the southwestern United States (Texas and New Mexico), throughout Mexico and Central America, and found as far south as Argentina. Its beautiful leaves are thin and elongated which seem to sparkle an emerald green color when in the sun. The flower blossoms are a soft yellow which bloom near to the stem when the plant is mature.
Elixer of the Sun
The history of use of Heimia salicifolia goes back to Mexico where it was traditionally used for various shamanic practices, and even at present, Mexican shamans have been known to use the leaves as a medicine and a tool for divination. Another method commonly used in Mexico was with fresh leaves, which were gathered and left to wilt. At one point, the leaves were then put into a glass jar with cool water added to it, and this mixture was then placed in the sun and allowed to ferment for 24 hours. It was believed that during the fermenting process, the energy and knowledge of the sun was embedded into the potion creating what was known as “Elixir of the Sun”. This is another reason that the plant received its common name Sun Opener. As a trance catalyst, the Aztecs regarded this plant as sacred, which enabled them to vividly access past distant events.
Traditional accounts state that Heimia salicifolia produces ‘a pleasant drunkenness, all objects appear yellow, and the sounds of bells and human voices reach the ears as if coming from a long distance” (J.P Calderon, 1896). Victor Reko 1926, stated that the plant ‘increased strength, energy and joy, and awakens the spirit…and objects are very clearly seen in great detail.” More modern reports say the fermented tea induces a pleasant state of euphoria, relaxing and soothing muscles, slightly increased sweating, and mild auditory hallucinations.
Aside from it’s spiritual use, the leaves, roots, flowers, stems and seeds of this plant have also been made into fermented teas, healing salves, cleansing waters, and even medicinal steam. Native Indians of North America used this plant for various physical ailments such as curing poison ivy rashes, as an insect repellent, the decoction was used to treat sore muscles, and scabies, for infertility, and to heal postpartum diseases.
In a recent study, 16 alkaloidal chemicals have been found in H. salicifolia. Of these, the main active constituent in the plant is known as phenylalanine, which is structurally very similar to two neurotransmitters found in our bodies; dopamine and adrenaline, which may be able to account for some of its active effects.