Yerba Santa Leaf
Veterinarian Reviewed on June 6, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized
Yerba Santa Leaf
The scientific names of Yerba Santa are Eriodictyon californicum, E. glutinosum, and Wigandia californicum. However the more common names of this plant are the holy weed, gum plant, tarweed, consumptive’s weed, bear’s weed, mountain balm, and eriodictyon.
Description of Yerba Santa
The Yerba Santa plant is actually a very aromatic evergreen shrub that is native to the mountains and hillsides of Oregon, California as well as in the northern parts of Mexico. This plant usually grows up to about eight feet in height, or roughly 2.5 meters. The Yerba Santa leaves are quite slim with tips that are spear shaped. Its stem begins to branch out quite close to the ground and is covered with a sticky resin on the upper side of the plant. The leaves are quite thick and have a leathery feel to them. They are also of a yellowish color with the top part coated in a resin. The narrow leaves are usually about two to five inches in length and about 3/4 inches wide. The Yerba Santa plant has flowers that look like miniature trumpets and are either white or lavender/blue in color and bloom in July and August every year.
Medicinal Uses of Yerba Santa
The leaves of the Yerba Santa plant are most often used for medicinal purposes. Spanish priests gave the Yerba Santa the nickname of ‘holy weed’ after they had determined the plant’s medicinal value from the Native American Indians. The leaves can be used either fresh or dried. They can be boiled and drank as a tea to treat Allergies, Colds, asthma and even tuberculosis.
Traditionally the leaves of the Yerba Santa were either smoked or chewed on in an attempt to alleviate the symptoms of coughs, colds, headaches, stomachaches and asthma.
Yerba Santa leaf can be used to treat the following ailments:
• Hay Fever
• Respiratory ailments
• As a stimulating expectorant
• Reduces fever when used as a liniment
• When used as a poultice, fresh Yerba Santa leaves can treat bruises and rheumatism
In addition, Yerba Santa is also used as a pharmaceutical flavoring, to help cover up the flavor of more bitter tasting herbs and drugs. Yerba Santa leaf extract is also used in various foods and drinks. There are also many different herbal preparations that contain Yerba Santa leaf as an ingredient.
Side Effects of Yerba Santa
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult with their doctor first before using Yerba Santa as there have been no conclusive tests done to determine any contraindications.
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan