An important medicinal plant in the Andes around Cusco is Muña, known scientifically as Minthostachys mollis. It grows at high altitude and is of great value to people in the areas where it is found. From ancient times people have used different plants and seeds as remedies for the diverse problems that our bodies face.
The plant’s leaves are green ad the plant reaches up to 80 cm or a meter in height, depending on the specific variety. It is recognized for the aroma that it possesses once you rub the leaves. It is a delicious mint smell that refreshes.
Our Pachamana, Mother Earth, gives us three varieties of this useful plant. One of them can be called “common muña”, which grows taller, the qoto muña that has on its stem a kind of knots, and pacha muña that grows only in the highest places and is very small.
Muña is well known for its benefits. It promotes good digestion and is a remedy for stomach pain. Besides these it has other that can be of much help. When a person has broken bones, dislocations, and tumors from blows they have received, people use plants like muña and chiri chiri. They are a good remedy for those kinds of problems.
The proper way to use the plant is in teas or tinctures, oils, and unguents. Some people from communities close to Cusco gather plants such as muña and bring them to the city’s markets to sell them to the public. They set them out in small mounds for purchase. They offer a combination of herbs for cooking, called, asnapa whish generally consists of parsley, cilantro, huacatay, and mint, sometimes muña.
It costs between fifty cents and 1/S. You can also find the plant in the archeological sites of our city, such as Saqsayhuaman, Qenqo, Puca Pucara, Tambomachay, and others.
We continue to use this native plant traditionally, ever since the times of the Incas. Knowledge of it has passed from generation to generation. It is an important medicinal plant and helps make us healthy today.