Sun Opener

Heimia salicifolia

Herbs gallery - Sun Opener

Common names

  • Shrubby Yellow Crest
  • Sini
  • Sinicuichi
  • Sun Opener
  • Willow-leaf Heimia
  • Yerba de Animas

Sun opener is a flowering plant belonging to the Loosestrife family called Lythraceae. This plant species has its origin in the Americas and is found growing naturally over a vast area extending from the south-western regions of the United States (for instance New Mexico and Texas) via Mexico and Central America to some regions of Argentina in South America. The natives of Mexico and Central America have been using this herb for shamanic purposes.

The sun opener is an ornamental, perennially growing plant that reaches up to three meters in height. While this herb is found growing naturally in several regions of Mexico and South America, purportedly it can even survive under some freezing conditions. Nevertheless, it grows best in pots which can be taken indoors during the cold climatic conditions. It is worth mentioning here that the sun opener is among the many holy plants that feature on Xochipilli, a statue of the Aztec Prince/ God of Flowers, from the 16th century.

According to a number of sources, the sun opener may possibly have very potent anti-inflammatory attributes. The oval shaped leaves of this herb are long and glossy and they extend from a stem, which becomes woody when it matures. The sun opener plant bears clusters of yellow flowers between its leaf arrangements. When the flowers drop on the ground, the bud encloses a solitary seed pod. These seed pods have a spherical shape and brown color - almost resembling a coriander seed. The seed pods of sun opener contain numerous minute brown seeds. In fact, the seeds of this herb are exceptionally strong.

Several new growers are usually of the view that the seeds have either been crushed or they are doubtful that such small seeds possess the aptitude to produce a plant! In fact, the seeds of sun opener are so minute that even if one wanted or tried to crush them, they wouldn't be successful. The appearance of these seeds is almost like a pale brown dust. The size of these seeds is helpful for them to spread to distant places. As they are very small and light weight helps them to be carried by the wind easily and transport them to newer places where this plant has never grown or colonized.

To some extent, the sun opener plant has a familiar appearance without many distinctive features. Sun opener has several slender branches and bears small yellow blooms that measure about 2 cm across.

The native tribes of the region which now comprises Mexico have been using sun opener for hundreds of years. One of the names of this plant implies that this herb is very closely associated with the sun. As drinking the Sinicuichi tea prepared from this plant produced a euphoric sensation, while yellowing or brightening the vision, the plant has been named "sun opener".

It is assumed that perhaps the sun opener plant was used for the first time in rituals related to Xochipilli, who is the Aztec god of flowers and spring. Ever since, several indigenous tribes have used this herb for its spiritual and therapeutic properties. It is believed that drinking the tea prepared from the plant transmits the wisdom of the sun to the drinkers.

Parts used



Several native tribes of Central America have been traditionally using sun opener for several thousand years for the plant's wonderful healing properties. This herb is known by many names and one reason for this is that it was used as well as named by various different tribes in its natural habitat.

Contemporary medicine systems have discovered that the traditional therapeutic uses of sun opener extend beyond the plant's properties. In fact, the local tribes of Central America used this herb for treating high fevers and parasites, besides healing open wounds.

Earlier, it was believed that sun opener was useful in bringing in fertility. As a result, women who were infertile bathed with water containing formulations prepared using the leaves of sun opener and other herbs. In fact, people used sun opener both to encourage conception and also following child birth. It was also used in the case of miscarriages. Women drank a tea prepared from the leaves of the herb.

In addition to the supposed health benefits offered by sun opener, this herb was also employed by people for spiritual purposes. A traditional preparation for this purpose involved leaving a brew prepared from sun opener in the sun in order to ferment it. It was believed that the wisdom of the sun implanted in the elixir during the period it was kept outdoors.

Traditionally, people have been using sun opener for several therapeutic purposes. However, only a few of these uses of the herb have been found to be effective by contemporary medicine systems.

Since long, the indigenous tribes inhabiting various places of Mexico have been using sun opener for treating parasitic worms as well as high fevers. They even covered open wounds with this herb to stop more blood loss from the affected area. In addition, this herb was also used to cure infertility.

Sun opener encloses various alkaloid compounds and it has been found that they offer different health benefits. For instance, the alkaloid called lythrine possesses diuretic properties, while it has been found that another alkaloid called heimidine possesses anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, this herb also acts as a sedative.

Sun opener plant also contains compounds like cryogene and nesodine, which also possess anti-inflammatory properties. At the same time, cryogene also works as an anti-spasmodic and tranquilizer. In fact, it was found that the effects of these two compounds are more potent compared to aspirin.

However, use of sun opener sometimes produces a few adverse after effects. One of the common cognitive effects of this plant is known to be acoustic hallucination. Although this appears to be the only auditory effect of using this herb, this is not the case always. Some users experience these effects just as reverberations and a kind of augmented feeling of music and other sounds.

Usually such auditory effects of using sun opener are also accompanied by mild changes in vision. Normally, this appears as a yellowish tint in the vision, particularly the user's peripheral vision.

Generally speaking, sun opener is a positive, comforting herb that even offers a euphoric experience. When taken internally, this herb may result in slight dizziness and a sense of intoxication, something similar to smoking marijuana. However, these effects are much milder compared to marijuana.

In addition, sun opener also works as a vasodilator. Since use of the plant helps to make the blood vessels wider, thereby reducing blood pressure. This action also helps to somewhat cool the body of the user.


Chemical analysis of sun opener has confirmed that this herb encloses many alkaloids, which include lythrine, lyfoline, lythridine, heimidine and vertine. It is worth mentioning here that vertine is also referred to as cryogenine and it is believed to be the most important psychoactive compound in sun opener.

Side effects and cautions

While the use of sun opener has only a small number of side effects similar to hangovers, some people who have used this herb have complained of headaches. In such cases, the users may feel tired; have sore muscles and a golden tone in their vision, which may continue till the next day.

It is claimed that using sun opener for a brief period enhances memory, using it on the long run may result in problems related to memory sooner or later. Nevertheless, the fact is that the negative effects of using this herb are experienced by very few users.


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