Eriodictyon Glutinosum Californicum
Mountain Balm, Holy Herb, Consumptives Weed, Tarweed
Part of the same family as Borage called Hydrophyllaceae, formerly they used to think this plant was more of an independent specie called Hydrophyllaceae. Now they classify them as a sub family under Borage (2.7). Growing 3’ to 9’ tall Yerba Santa has 2 toned lanceolate to oblong shaped leaves. Between the leaf veins under the leaf is very densely hairy with small white hairs, on the top is a smoother green and oily surface. At the end of the branches Yerba Santa's flowers clusters form white - purple appearance (2.1). Its this purple color that gives away a lot of what we know about Yerba Santa and its energies, think 3rd eye chakra association (1.4). The flowers form a funnel or trumpet shape that is slightly hairy. The shape reminds one of an ascension or a cone of energy. Able to cope with hot environments thanks to its strong relationship with the water element. It can seem a bit more opposite than what we would think about a relationship with water. This plant has tough resinous leaves that conserve water, making them slightly sticky (1.4). The stickiness can attract a lot of what is in our environment so be aware of where you are when handling the leaves. Butterflies absolutely love Yerba Santa! Considered GRAS approved, or Generally Regarded As Safe (1.8).
Habitat and Propagation:
Yerba Santa grows best in zones 5 - 10 and is very drought tolerant (1.2). Thrives best in arid regions at max 4,000’ on hillsides and ridges. Found in California and Oregon regions also found in Northern parts of Mexico (1.1). Needing these areas to be in full sunlight and sandy soil with very good drainage. When growing it at home put it against a wall that gets a lot of sun for best growth. Prune your plant in early spring or summer, do not cut any wood that has grown to be 2 years old. To germinate seeds soak them in willow tea overnight. Next day place small pinches of the seed in groups on a sandy soil surface. Press them firmly to the soil and keep warm in artificial light or sunlight and water every other day. It can take up to 17 or more days for germination. When propagating seeds grow in a greenhouse environment for the first year, within that year once the growth of the seeds is enough dig them up carefully to plant in individual pots. After the first year and winter plant in its permanent position in early spring or summer (1.1). A permanent position is important this plant does not like to be moved too much as it gets older.
Always practice sustainable and safe harvesting techniques. The parts used are the new leaves of a well established plant. One would harvest these leaves in early Spring or Summer (1.3), that is when its moisture content would be at its best meaning more medicine. Harvest only first year growth. When harvesting it can be more sustainable to pick just the leaves not the whole branch. This way can take longer but if you do it right you can conserve the buds for another years growth. Be careful where you harvest from Yerba Santa is a very sticky resinous plant, anything in its environment will stick to it. Do not harvest next to roadsides or any other area where there can be heavy environmental pollutants that may stick to the leaves. When near roadsides and you see this plant do not eat its leaves. Look out for Black Fungi that grow on older leaves and sometimes younger but not often, do not use these leaves. Another good reason to pick just the leaf and not the whole branch.
Flavanoids (Eriodictyol), Homoeriodictyol, Chrysocriol, Zanthoeridol and Eridonel. Formic and other plant acids, Volatile Oil, Phytosterol, Resin and Glucose (2.1).
Image Eriodictyol: One of the 4 Flavanones found in Yerba Santa, a bitter-masking compound when extracted (1.7).
Expectorant, Carminative, Sialagogue, Alterative
Upper Respiratory problems like Colds, Chronic Laryngitis, Bronchitis, lung problems and asthma are all within Yerba Santas scope of treatment (2.2). It helps in this way by its water affinity not only loosening phlegm, but helping to create a wetter environment for a dry bronchitis to help produce more to get rid of infection. As an expectorant this herb can increase pulmonary secretions this will help get rid of excess mucus, much like Ephedra but without its cardiovascular stimulating functions. Yerba Santa has a decongesting quality to it, and on top of all of this has antibacterial properties. Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, Sarcina app., Streptococcus, Micrococcus spp. and Gram Positive Microbes are Yerba Santas specialty. This herbs Bacteriostatic properties in the resin of the leaves are very useful. Use this herb as a digestive aid by increasing salivation, helping also to control appetite. A great remedy for stomach aches and diarrhea (1.8). Flavons in Yerba Santa are an antioxidant, boost the whole system and counter fatigue. Even by the flowers colors you can see that this herb’s effects the mind in a positive and stimulating way, also toning the the nervous system and cleaning the blood (1.8).
Using during wet asthmatic congestion when breathing has positive resultsl. Also Rhinitis and Sinusitis caused by allergies and/or infection responds well to Yerba Santa (2.1).
Externally it is used for bruises, sprains and insect bites as a compress to treat inflammation. Combined with Grindelia as a fomation, compress, poultice or liniment is a great relief for insect bites, Poison Oak and Ivy (2.3), this combination taken internally helps treat Pulmonary infections (1.8). Also used as a poultice on the chest to help dilate Bronchial tubes and relax any spasming muscles.
Tincture Adult: 10 - 30 drops every 3 - 4 hours, 4 times a day. Only do this for a maximum of 10 days.
Tincture Child: Only ½ the dosage still taken 4 times a day.
Herbal Infusion: 2 - 4 oz 2 - 3 times a day (2.1)
Take 1 ounce of Yerba Santa and put in a quart Mason Jar. Fill this jar to the brim with boiling water and let steep for 4 hours or even overnight, then strain off and consume as much as you want. You can adjust water amount but always have it be 1 ounce of herb (1.8).
Poultice: Crush herbs and place on loosely weaved Organic fabric Let sit in hot water for 10 minutes covered. Place on area of need until it cools and repeat until satisfied (1.8). Image of Poultice process.
Tea: Steep 1 teaspoon of dried Yerba Santa in 1 cup of hot water for 10 minutes (1.8). You can drink this tea on a regular basis and is considered generally safe.
Not to be taken while pregnant or nursing, May have an effect on the absorption of Iron and other minerals by the body. Slackens off mucus in the chest also increases Urine (1.1). Since this is an energizer it can disrupt natural sleep patterns and cause insomnia, do not take before bed. Eriodictyon can be an allergen to some people. Best to not use Yerba Santa with other pharmaceuticals. It can interfere with how your body processes certain drugs so that the level of absorption increases in the bloodstream, this can cause serious reactions. In this way it can affect other herbal supplements (1.8).
History and Folklore:
Yerba Santa has been used in Magic and Ceremony for beauty, healing, psychic powers and protection. Carried on the body or in a bath to obtain beauty. Added to healing incenses and worn around the neck to ward off illness and injury. Not only has it been used in history for its physical protection but its spiritual. It has been burned in incense and worn to increase psychic powers and protect the bears aura (2.6). When held with several other Holy Herbs or placed on the altar they can be a bringer of spiritual blessings, mix Yerba Santa, Holy Basil (Tulsi), Blessed Thistle, Cascara Sagrada and Angelica in a satchel. Matthew Wood writes this about this herb, “The sanctity of psychic space is the internal, property, which Yerba Santa guards” (1.8).
Though the plant carries a Spanish name it was taught to the Spanish that arrived in America by the Native Americans. The Maidu, Konkow and Nisenan all were tribes that used this herb (1.2). Once learning the uses the Spanish named it Yerba Santa or Holy Weed. The Native Americans made the tea or created a steam (1.2) to treat many illnesses. They chewed the leaves as a cure for asthma, they also used it externally as a poultice for many types of pains (1.1).
I have used this plant for many things even before finding out it was such a companion, almost as though I was still waiting to acknowledge the plants spirit. Having spent some time with Yerba Santa I have found out how much it truly loves me and supports me, without needing anything from me. The reason it doesn’t need anything from me is one I should talk about. This Herb is here to teach us the path to where our highest most Divine self is. It holds this space and protects it till we get there. For this reason it needs nothing from us other than what we plan to do anyway and that is get to our highest most Divine self. We are always in forward movement and I believe the things that we need in our life come to us at that point. Yerba Santa is one that comes to us when we are ready to make that change from our misdirection to our Divine self. I often burn this plant in a blend of Yerba Santa, White Sage, Frankincense and Myrrh for motivation (while I researched and typed this report), encouragement, courage in a situation (like giving the talk about the herb), cleansing both physically and spiritually and especially while meditating.
I use this tea in a blend meant for the change of seasons. We can have a lot of built up stuff from a summer or winter, and the switch can mean getting sick while we get rid of old season build up. Yerba Santa makes a great spring cleaning herb. It just cleanses the body in such an energizing way that can ‘knock the cobwebs’ out of those places you have not been in a while. Especially the Respiratory System, 2 major season changes tend to really get this area all gunked up. Yerba Santa helps to break that up and move it out very effectively. I had a pretty bad deep chest cold that did not produce, but I coughed a lot. I had to go to class that night so I thought to vape Yerba Santa to relieve the cough and feel better. It did a great job of relieving the dry unproductive cough and helped me to feel better. Then in the middle of class I kept having these heavy coughs that produced a lot of gunk! It sounded so bad but it was soooo good! Needless to say it takes very good care of getting the junk out of lungs. My lesson here was that it does make a great reliever of dry coughs, but is best for at home use due to its heavy mucus productive nature. Also a tea made of this while I was vaping might have been even more effective, especially a blend with other herbs making the medicine even more potent. I felt much better the next day. Yerba Santa’s water element gets the juices flowing in many areas. This herb can increase urine production and intestinal mucus to help move the bowels better. In all ways it’s a great herb to get toxins out of the system thanks to its water affinity and creation of bodily flow. I gave a co-worker some cough drops with Yerba Santa as one of the main ingredients and it cured her Laryngitis very quickly that day. She has a very long lasting problem with Laryngitis so she knew what the problem was. Now she asks for my cough drops whenever the problem arises, and I always have them for her! For some reason I get a strong feeling Sage and Yerba Santa make great bed-fellows.
This physical flow can be very much tied to the forward spiritual movement described earlier. The way she opens up our path to be seen and saves a space for us in our Divine Temple. It draws us to do the same, to create our own flow like water through our lives to get to that Temple. The energy it carries draws my body to flow more with the energies around me. It draws my mind to flow freely and safe on that Divine path. So it’s almost as if whatever I do is for the highest purpose and the greatest good, because I know that space is held for me and I am on my way. I feel safe and confident in my life when I absorb Yerba Santa’s energies. I feel like Yerba Santa is not walking directly next to me, it does not need that much from me. Like a flood of water she has cleared the path and is at the end cheering me on and waving me to come. She cleansed space as she cleared the path both within me and outside of me, I trust her so I move forward with confidence. For some reason I get a strong feeling Sage and Yerba Santa make great companions together, especially in incense or tea! I am thankful for this herbs presence in my life, and I am thankful to be sharing all of this with you. In all these ways, this is how the beautiful Feminine energy of Yerba Santa affects my life.
2.1 - Herbal Medicine of the American Southwest By Charles W. Kane
2.2 - The Herb Book By John Lust
2.3 - The Way of Herbs By Michael Tierra, L.Ac., O.M.D
2.4 - Natural Healing With Herbs By Humbart Santillo BS, MH
2.5 - How to be Your Own Herbal Pharmacist By Linda Rector - Page
2.6 - Cunninghams Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs By Scott Cunningham
2.7 - Botany in a Day By Thomas J. Elpel