Botanical: Eriodictyon glutinosum (also known as Eriodictyon californicum)
Family: Hydrophyllaceae (perennial woodland herbs)
Other common names: Holy Herb, Bear's Weed, Mountain Balm, Consumptive Weed, Gum Bush, Tarweed, Sacred Herb, Wild Balsam, Gum Leaves
We can thank the Native Americans of old California for introducing us to Yerba Santa. The herb exerts a strong stimulating action that is most pronounced on the lungs and is said to be a powerful expectorant that loosens and expels mucus and phlegm from respiratory system and helps to relieve chest congestion, asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, dry cough, chest colds, "runny nose" and more. It has been used to purify the system and cleanse the blood, providing an overall invigorated feeling that is thought to retard ageing, reduce fatigue, stimulate the mind and energize tired limbs. No wonder it was called the Holy Herb!
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Yerba Santa is one of eight species of woolly, sticky evergreens that is native to western North America and Mexico. It is a tender shrub that bears lance-shaped, tooth-edged leaves with a resinous upper surface and a white, woolly underside and clusters of lobed, funnel-shaped, lilac-to-white flowers that bloom in summer. The plant thrives in sandy soil in dry, rocky, sunny conditions in a warm climate (minimum of forty-five degrees Fahrenheit) and may reach a height of eight feet. Its botanical genus, Eriodictyon, is derived from two Greek words, erion, meaning "wool," and dictyon, meaning "net," referring to the white hairs and vein-like surface on the under-leaves. The plant has a rich past in Mendocino County, California, where it was called a Holy Herb by the Spanish missionaries, who learned of its medicinal qualities from the Native Americans. The missionaries, in turn, introduced it to the early settlers, and the herb was said to be found in every home medicine chest. Native Americans smoked it for asthma and chewed it for oral hygiene. They also employed it to treat coughs, colds, sore throats, excess mucus, stomachaches, vomiting and diarrhea, and it appears that they were correct, because many of these applications are repeated in modern herbal medicine. Yerba Santa was officially listed in the United States
Pharmacopœia from 1894 through 1905, and again from 1916 through 1947, after which it was entered into the United States National Formulary as an expectorant. The aromatic leaves are collected from the wild in summer, dried and used in herbal medicines. The herb has also been included as an ingredient in patent cough medicines for its soothing and expectorant qualities and added to other bitter-tasting medicines to improve the flavor. Some of the consitituents in Yerba Santa include a rich source of flavonoids, glycerides of fatty acids, volatile oil, phytosterol, glucose, pentatriacontane, cerotonic, formic and other acids and resin.
Yerba Santa exerts a strong stimulating action that is most pronounced on the lungs. It opens up respiratory passages and is considered an effective expectorant that loosens and expels phlegm and mucus from the lungs and upper respiratory system and has even been included as an active ingredient in patent cough medicines. Yerba Santa has been used for centuries to relieve bronchitis, asthma, tuberculosis, sinusitis, dry cough, chest colds, allergies, hay fever, asthma, flu, chronic laryngitis, runny nose and many other conditions where there is excessive mucus to be expelled from the body.
As an "alterative," Yerba Santa acts to cleanse and stimulate the efficient removal of waste products from the body, and as such, it is believed to purify the system and cleanse the blood, providing an overall invigorated feeling. The herb is said to retard ageing, reduce fatigue, stimulate the mind, energize tired limbs, ease rheumatism and promote healing.
Yerba Santa is believed to reduce spasms, improve digestion, pep up and stimulate the appetite and ease stomachaches, flatulence and vomiting. In addition, this herb has also been used to relieve diarrhea and dysentery.
In 1992, studies indicated that flavonoid extracts from Yerba Santa exhibited inhibition of a potent chemical that is implicated in causing malignant disease; hopefully, there will be more research in this area that will produce positive results.
Used externally, Yerba Santa has been added to poultices for wounds, bruises, sprains, sores and insect bites.
Pregnant and nursing women should not use Yerba Santa Herbal Supplement.