In a recent trip to Oaxaca, Mexico I was excited to see a near relative, Fouqueiria formosa, of a favorite domestic plant ‘Ocotillo’ or Fouqueria splendens, growing in the wild and in the exceptionally scenic El Jardin Ethnobotanico seen in these photos. Fouqueria splendens grows throughout the deserts of Southern California, Arizona, and various states in Northern Mexico while F. formosa grows throughout the southern high desert of Mexico along side scenic organ pipe and Saguaro cacti. I’ve now combed several books on medicinal plants of Mexico and had an opportunity to ask several practitioners and academic experts and received little clear explanation of methods of harvest or application of F. formosa in traditional medical practice. I did however taste some inner bark and found it to possess the same spectrum of bitterness and acridity as F. splendens suggesting to me that the applications I would consider would be the same.
F. splendens finds ample opportunity for expression as a useful herb in supporting a variety of therapeutic and physiologic processes in the lower jiao, as it is known in CM, which pertains to the L.I., S.I., and uro-genital systems of the body. Ocotillo functions to clear heat and transform dampness and also to quicken the blood and resolve stagnation of blood. It can thus be combined with appropriate herbs for treating such diverse conditions as vaginal discharge, hemorrhoids, itching and redness of the lower thighs, and uterine cysts.
When I returned from my trip with a visitor in my intestines of a protozoal or amoebic nature, I sought the help and advice of an excellent local herbalist Joshua Muscat who besides giving me a bottle of the anti-parasitic Quassia, suggested I include Ocotillo in my very simple prescription which has brought me rapid relief. Joshua explained that the role of Ocotillo was to activate the lymph in both the inguinals and small intestine to enable its immune activity and its scavenging of waste products of infection. In CM terms this roughly translates to clearing of heat and transforming dampness in the lower jiao!