Joan Rothchild Hardin
Yerba Santa for Sinuses
If you’ve suffered with chronically stuffed up sinuses or post nasal drip, you know how much they can detract from the joy of being alive. Here’s information about a medicinal herb that may bring you relief: Yerba Santa.
Yerba Santa (Eriodictyon californicum) has been used medicinally for centuries by the Chumash Indians and other Native Americans in California to treat a variety of conditions: pulmonary problems, saliva production, and to stop bleeding from minor cuts and scrapes. “In the United States and Britain, Yerba Santa was formally used for conditions including influenza, bacterial pneumonia, asthma, bronchitis, and tuberculosis starting in the late 1800s until the 1960s (when drug regulations became more stringent around proof of efficacy).” (Vitagene, 2017) The herb is a shrubby evergreen plant, 2 to 4 feet high, found growing abundantly in clumps on dry hills in California, New Mexico, Oregon, and Northern Mexico. The Chumash Indians regard Yerba Santa as one of the traditionally Sacred Herbs. (Rose, 2014)
When taken internally, this herb supports healthy mucosal linings and respiratory function. It is used in Chinese meridian medicine for the lungs and spleen. As an antioxidant, it boosts the whole system and counteracts fatigue. “It cleanses the blood, tones the nervous system, and stimulates the mind. It works well in combination with Grindelia.” (Grieve, 2017)
Other uses of Yerba Santa include as a digestive aid, improving appetite and overall digestion, and as a mouthwash. Externally, the leaves can be crushed and turned into a poultice and placed on the chest to soothe tight and congested breathing. Then the water can be drunk as an infusion. Native Americans used this infusion to reduce fever. Other external uses include soothing mosquito bites, rashes, bruises, wounds, and sprains. It is generally regarded as safe (GRAS). (Rose, 2014)
“To make an infusion, take 1 ounce of herb and place it in a quart Mason jar and fill to the brim with boiling water. Let that steep for at least four hours (overnight is better) and strain off the liquid. You can make a tea by steeping a teaspoon in a cup of boiling water for ten minutes. (Rose, 2014)
NOTE: My naturopath and expert herbalist Dr Gabrielle Francis (AKA The Herban Alchemist), says she’s found teas made with Yerba Santa to be too weak to be effective and recommends using a tincture instead. (Francis, 2017)
INFORMATION ON YERBA SANTA FROM A WESTERN MEDICAL SOURCE: WEB MD
YERBA SANTA OVERVIEW INFORMATION
“Yerba santa is an herb. The leaf is used to make medicine.
“Yerba santa is used for respiratory conditions including coughs, colds, tuberculosis, asthma, and chronic bronchitis. It is also used for fever and dry mouth. Some people use it to relieve muscle spasms, to loosen phlegm, and as a tonic.
“Yerba santa is sometimes applied directly to the skin in a warm dressing (poultice) to treat bruises, sprains, wounds, insect bites, and to relieve joint pain (rheumatism).
“In foods and beverages, an extract of yerba santa is used as a flavoring.
“In the manufacturing of medications, yerba santa is used to mask the bitter taste of certain drugs.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
“Yerba santa contains chemicals that are thought to loosen mucus in the chest and may increase urination.”
Lithium interacts with YERBA SANTA
“Yerba santa might have an effect like a water pill or ‘diuretic.’F Taking yerba santa might decrease how well the body gets rid of lithium. This could increase how much lithium is in the body and result in serious side effects. Talk with your healthcare provider before using this product if you are taking lithium. Your lithium dose might need to be changed.”
POTENTIAL SAFETY & SIDE EFFECTS
“Yerba santa is LIKELY SAFE when eaten in amounts commonly found in food or when taken by mouth for medicinal reasons. However, the potential side effects are not known.
“There is not enough information to know whether yerba santa is safe when put on the skin.
SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS & WARMINGS:
“Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking yerba santa if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.”
OTHER NAMES FOR YERBA SANTA
“Bear’s Weed, Consumptive’s Weed, Eriodictyon, Eriodictyon californicum, Eriodictyon glutinosum, Gum Bush, Gum Plant, Herbe des Montagnes, Herbe à Ourse, Herbe Sacrée, Herbe Sainte, Hierba Santa, Holy Herb, Holy Weed, Mountain Balm, Sacred Herb, Tarweed, Wigandia californicum.”
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON YERBA SANTA
The herb’s main constituents are five phenolic bodies: eriodictyol, homoeriodictyol, chrysocriol, zanthoeridol and eridonel. Other constituents include free formic and other acids, glycerides of fatty acids, a yellow volatile oil, a phytosterol, resin, and glucose. It tastes balsamic and sweetish, turning to an acrid but not bitter taste. Consuming it causes the saliva to flow. (Grieve, 2017)
“Some people may have an allergy to Eriodyctyon. It may interfere with the processing of certain drugs in the body so that the level of drugs can increase in the blood stream, causing serious harmful reactions. This can also affect other herbs and supplements. It is best to take separate from pharmaceuticals.” (Rose, 2014)
“When burned in sacred ceremony, Yerba Santa nourishes and protects that which is wild in one’s self. It can be burned when in need of encouragement and courage. (Rose, 2014)
As an herb in the water leaf (Hydrophyllaceae) family, it regulates the water element in the body. “As such, it is excellent for emotional and soul blockages and helps to release grief, despair and melancholy, which can be held in the heart and lungs.” (Rose, 2014)
The image above shows a Shaman’s Market collection of sage and smudge sticks used by many Native American healers. The bundle in the 7:30 position is Yerba Santa. YERBA SANTA LIQUID EXTRACT
This post owes its existence to Zell Watson. I thank her for telling me about the miraculous herb, Yerba Santa.
Zell uses an extract preparation of Yerba Santa made by Herb Pharm. It’s available on Amazon. Herb Pharm Yerba Santa Extract for Respiratory System Support
About the product
Expertly extracted for support of the respiratory system.
Prepared from the sustainably wildcrafted dried leaf of Eriodictyon californicum shrubs.
Rapidly absorbed liquid extract.
Gluten-free and non-GMO.
Herb potency assured through High Performance Thin Layer Chromatography (HPTLC) analysis.
“Support healthy respiratory system function with Yerba Santa liquid extract from Herb Pharm. We prepare our Yerba Santa Extract from the dried leaf of Eriodictyon californicum shrubs which are Sustainably Wildcrafted in their wild native habitat in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. To assure optimal extraction of Yerba Santa’s bioactive compounds, the leaf is hand-harvested in summer when it is at its highest resin content, is carefully shade-dried to retain its full color and aroma, and is then thoroughly extracted.” (Amazon, 2017)
I’ve been using a moisturizing nasal spray called Pretz Spray Moisturizing Saline Nasal Spray with Yerba Santa and have just ordered a bottle of Herb Pharm’s purer, stronger version of Yerba Santa. I look forward to trying it.
CHRONIC SINUS CONGESTION & POST NASAL DRIP
See these past posts for more information on chronic sinus congestion and post nasal drip – and ways to fix them:
PROBIOTICS FOR SINUSITIS AND SINUS INFECTION
WHAT I DID FOR SINUS MISERY
DO YOU WANT TO JUST SUPPRESS YOUR ALLERGY SYMPTOMS OR ACTUALLY FIX WHAT’S CAUSING THEM?
Amazon.com. (2017). Pretz Spray Moisturizing Nasal Spray with Yerba Santa. See: https://www.amazon.com/Pretz-Spray-Moisturizing-Saline-Nasal/dp/B000XBRH5M/ref=sr_1_1_s_it?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1513967680&sr=1-1&keywords=pretz+spray
Amazon.com. (2017). Yerba Santa (Herb Pharm). See: https://www.amazon.com/Herb-Pharm-Extract-Respiratory-Support/dp/B0010FBA0I?th=1#customerReviews
Francis, G. (2017). The Herban Alchemist. Personal communication. Grieve, M. (2017). Yerba Santa. See: https://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/y/yersan07.html
Hardin, J.R. (2013-2014). Sinuses. See: https://www.allergiesandyourgut.com/post/gut-symbiosis-versus-dysbiosis
Hardin, J.R. (2014). Probiotics for Sinusitis and Sinus Infection. See: https://www.allergiesandyourgut.com/post/probiotics-for-sinusitis-and-sinus-infection
Hardin, J.R. (2016). What I Did for Sinus Misery. See: https://www.allergiesandyourgut.com/post/what-i-did-for-sinus-misery
Hardin, J.R. (2017). Do You Want to Just Suppress Your Allergy Symptoms or Actually Fix What’s Causing Them? See: https://www.allergiesandyourgut.com/post/do-you-want-to-just-suppress-your-allergy-symptoms-or-actually-fix-what-s-causing-them
Hardin, J.R. (2017). Histamine Intolerance. See: https://www.allergiesandyourgut.com/post/histamine-intolerance
Rose, P. (2014). Yerba Santa Leaf (Erodictyion californicum) See: http://wishgardenherbs.com/blog/64/yerba-santa-leaf/
Vitagene. (2017). Yerba Santa. See: https://vitagene.com/supplements/plants/yerba-santa
Watson, Z. (2017). Personal communication.
WebMD. (2005-2017). Yerba Santa. See: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-393-yerba%20santa.aspx?activeingredientid=393&activeingredientname=yerba%20sant © Copyright 2017. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Comments submitted prior to 8/25/2021
Very informative, Joan! I’m not familiar with this herb. Since we left New York City I no longer have allergies, asthma or post-nasal drip. Even in the humid climate of SW FL I’m free of antihistamines, asthma inhalers and oral meds, and don’t even need my netipot to stay clear and free to breathe easily. If I have a return of symptoms, such as when I visit Chicago in March, I’ll keep Yerba Buena in mind.