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June 2024

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Courtesy Photo Top: An array of Brenda’s Botanicals products on display at Taos Farmers Market.

Brenda’s Botanicals Brings Sappy Banter

By Deborah Archuleta-Moreno

The heart of New Mexico is the Rio Grande, churning in its gorge or slipping along silently, its power concealed, through groves of cottonwoods. And there, along its banks, grow the wildflowers that were traditionally used by both Native Americans and Hispanic peoples. Life was similar for most Hispanic and Pueblo women: women of both cultures gathered medicinal herbs, combining the traditions of religious and spiritual healing with the use of what the land provided.

For hundreds of years the piñon tree and its many purposes were a big part of their gathering. When we mention the word piñon (theSpanish word for pine) to the Native Neuvo Mexicano, the word immediately conjures up all sorts of images; maybe a family sitting at home in the fall, nibbling on the small brown roasted nuts. Or perhaps we think about jumping into a pickup truck with the family and heading out to the nearest piñon forest for the day to find the piñon nuts or harvest a big wad of trementina (pine sap). The pine tree is used as a landscape element throughout the southwest, but to the Native American and Hispanic families, it has always been a source of food, fuel, and the trementina, which was used for a variety of purposes, including as a home remedy for the skin.

Courtesy Photo Piñon sap, or trementina, oozing from a piñon tree.

Brenda Archuleta, of Brenda’s Botanicals, learned the importance of preserving these traditional healing practices of New Mexico’s culture. Brenda grew up in Cerro, NM and currently resides in Taos. She has been involved in the healing arts for 14 years, as a massage therapist, and has always felt the need to be of service to people. Owning her own retail store for 15 years, she eventually transitioned into earning her massage license, which enabled her to work with people one on one in a more healing environment. Brenda created this line of piñon (trementina) salves: piñon soaps, lotions, and oils.

Piñon sap has many healing aspects—it is antibacterial properties and can be used to heal wounds and burns. It is also an antiseptic, an anti-inflammatory, and works well for healing eczema. And if you get that annoying splinter in your finger, yup! you guessed it, apply some trementina and let the magic happen, it will pull it right out! Brenda hikes through the Taos mountains and gathers the trementina herself. And soon she will be distilling to make her own essential pine oil. All of her products contain no fillers and are 100% active ingredients that harness the power of nature. You can find her products in and around Taos, Santa Fe, and surrounding areas in these stores: Taos Food Co-Op, Cid’s Food Market, Made in NM on the Plaza (and online), Smoke Signals, Taos Herb Co., Soul Food, Native Roots, Ten Thousand Waves and Railyard Artist Market in Santa Fe, Dixon Co-Op, and soon at the Taos Farmers Market.
Brenda loves to share these healing products that have been used in our culture for hundreds of years. Connect with her at https://brendasbotanicalstaos.com, or on Facebook @brendasbotanicalstaos.