Scientific name: Minthostachys mollis
Description: Muña grows in the Andes above 2,700 meters above sea level (9,000 feet). It is a bush measuring up to 1.2 meters tall (4 feet) with small leaves and white flowers.
Uses: In high altitudes, muña is excellent for an upset stomach, dizziness and difficulty breathing.
Altitude sickness: When tourist show symptoms of altitude sickness, guides from the Lake Titicaca region usually give them muña branches. These branches are then rubbed between their hands and inhaled, relieving dizziness, freeing the bronchi, and decongesting the respiratory tracts.
Stomach problems: Muña leaves and flowers are drunk in a tea to relieve swelling and stomach pain, aiding in digestion, and preventing gas. It also helps eliminate intestinal parasites. Recent studies in 2007 showed that muña helps eliminate the helicobacter pylori organism, bacteria responsible for stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, food poisoning, gastritis, and gastroenteritis, as well as most ulcers.
“Mate de muña” (muña tea) is served in Andean restaurants, especially in the Lake Titicaca region.
• Asthma – Muña is used in asthma attacks.
• Bone strengthening – Thanks to its high calcium and phosphorus content, muña helps strengthen bones and teeth, as well as preventing decalcification. It facilitates quick recuperation after bone fractures and lowers the possibility of osteoporosis.
• Insecticide – The Incas were already using muña in their “colcas” (food deposits) to protect provisions from plagues and to control germination. Nowadays, Andean farmers continue to use muña to protect their plants from insects, their cattle against parasites, and as a repellent for themselves.
• Moths – The penetrating scent of muña is highly effective against moths.
• Fireworks – Some Andean communities prepare powder from the stalk of the plant and mix it with resin, alcohol, and sulfur to make fireworks during celebrations in Ayacucho (in the central Peruvian Andes).
• Cooking – In the Andes, muña is used for flavoring different dishes. Its aroma is like mint.
INS – Instituto Nacional de la Salud (Peruvian National Health Institute)