The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

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Yerba Santa

Scientific Names

Yerba Santa

  • Eriodictyon californicum L.
  • Eriodictyon glutinosum
  • Hydrophyllaceae
  • Water leaf family

Common Names

  • Bear’s weed
  • Consumptive’s weed
  • Gum bush
  • Gum plant (Grindelia robusta L.)
  • Mountain balm
  • Tarweed

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Parts Usually Used

Leaves
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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Yerba santa is an evergreen shrub; it is somewhat branching and grows to a height of 2-4 feet. The stems are smooth and exude a gummy substance. Leaves are 3-4 inches long, distinctively woolly on the undersides, containing a network of prominent veins, and the resinous substance appears as if the woolly fibers have been varnished; upper surface is smooth with depressed veins. The flowers are terminal, appearing in shades of dark lavender to pale shades of lavender to white; forming funnel-shaped clusters at the top of the plant. The honey is amber, with a slightly spicy flavor. Bees love this plant. The capsule fruit is oval, grayish-brown and contains small brown shriveled seeds.
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Where Found

Follow the bees and find santa yerba on dry mountain slopes and ridges in the coastal ranges and up into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada from Monterey to Tulare northward.
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Medicinal Properties

Aromatic, tonic, stimulant, expectorant
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Biochemical Information

Eriodictyol, homoeriodictyol, chrysocriol, zanthoeridol and eridonel. Also free formic and other acids, glycerides of fatty acids, a yellow volatile oil, a phytosterol, resin and glucose.
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Legends, Myths and Stories

The name yerba santa (means “Holy weed”) was given by the Spanish fathers who became aware of it through Native Americans.

The Native Americans smoked or chewed the leaves for asthma. The taste is peculiar, at first, when chewed, seems rather disagreeable, resinous, and bitter. This taste soon disappears and then tastes sweet and cooling, which is especially noticed when chewing stops a minute, or by drinking a glass of water. One Native American expressed it, “It makes one taste kind of sweety inside.”
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Uses

Native Americans boiled the fresh or dried leaves for colds, coughs, sore throat, catarrh, asthma, bronchitis, hayfever, congestion due to allergies, laryngitis, fever, stomach aches, vomiting, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, kidney conditions, and rheumatism. Externally, Native Americans used the fresh or dried leaves as a poultice for broken or unbroken skin, fatigued limbs, insect bites, sprains, bruises, swellings, sores, poison ivy or poison oak rashes.
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Formulas or Dosages

Infusion: 1 tsp. of crushed leaves to 1 cup of boiling water, steep 30 minutes. Take 1 cup per day.

Fluid extract: mix 10 to 20 drops in liquid daily.
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Warning

Yerba santa should be used in small amounts as too large doses will irritate the kidneys.
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Bibliography

Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

Buy It! Old Ways Rediscovered, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, published from 1954, print 1988

Buy It! Earl Mindell’s Herb Bible, by Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., Simon & Schuster/Fireside, Rockefeller Center 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020

Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

Buy It! An Instant Guide to Medicinal Plants, by Pamela Forey and Ruth Lindsay, Crescent Books (January 27, 1992).

Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

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