Before its medicinal value has been recognized, Yerba Buena was first used as an ingredient in numerous cuisines. It became popular because of its distinctively strong spearmint flavor, thus making it ideal for salads. The leaves are the source of this flavor, and they may be added to viands and meals, either raw or cooked. It has also been effective to drive away rats and other rodents, because of its strong smell of mint that it emits. Thus, besides its medicinal value, it has long been recognized to have strong commercial demand due to the variety of uses that the plant have.
Yerba Buena has been consumed for centuries as tea and herbal medicine as a pain reliever (analgesic). Native American Indians used it even before the "white men" colonized the Americas. Today, this folk medicine's efficacy has been validated by scientific research. In the Philippines, Yerba Buena is one of the 10 herbs endorsed by the Department of Health (DOH) as an effective alternative medicine for aches and pains. It has been recognized for its antiseptic, anti-cancer, diuretic, anti-spasm, anti-emetic activities. Properties of this herbal plant are also found to function as stimulant and to have restorative effects.
As an herbal medicine, a decoction (boil leaves then strain) of Yerba Buena is effective for minor ailments such as headaches, toothaches, and joint pains. It can also relive stomachaches due to gas buildup and indigestion. The fresh and dried leaves can both be used for the decoction. And because Yerba Buena belongs to the mint family, soaking fresh leaves in a glass of water (30 to 45 minutes) makes a good and effective mouth wash for a clean, fresh smelling breath.
Yerba Buena may be used to treat:
• Head aches
• Tooth aches
• Mouth wash
• Relief of intestinal gas
• Stomach aches
• Drink as tea for general good health.
Preparation & Use:
• Wash fresh Yerba Buena leaves in running water. Chop to size for dried leaves, crush) and boil 2 teaspoons of leaves in a glass of water. Boil in medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes.
• As analgesic, take a cupful every 3 hours.
• For tooth aches, pound the fresh leaves, squeeze juice out and apply on a cotton ball then bite on to the aching tooth.
• Yerba buena leaves may be heated over fire and placed over the forehead for headaches.
Stems of Yerba Buena may be crushed and applied directly to bruises. Folkloric use include poultice preparation and the oil extracts from its stems are suggested to be a remedy for cancerous tumors. Caution should be observed in taking this herbal medicine as it can be toxic in large doses.