Healing Plants

The mural is of Maclovia Sanchez de Zamora who left a legacy of traditional healing to Albuquerque’s Barelas community through her herbal practice at Rupee Drug on 4th SW. The building is part of the Barelas Main Street project and de Zamora’s books and notes are still housed there. Photo: Ken Gingerich / mid Rio Grande Times

Plants have been used as medicine by people in New Mexico for millennia. In the mid Rio Grande watershed, knowledge from Plains, Pueblo and Hispanic people have been shared as well for the last 400 years with healers using at least 70 plants found to have medicinal uses. One plant may have multiple, seemingly unrelated uses. This is because plants are complex, made of many compounds, while the pills we buy have been engineered to have only one compound/use. Fifty percent of the pharmaceutical products prescribed in Western medicine had their origin in plants. Some you might know include aspirin (pain) from willow bark, digitalis (heart failure) from foxglove, and Vincristine (leukemia) from periwinkle.

Here are some examples of medicinal plants found and used in our watershed:

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