Holy Herb of the West: Yerba Santa

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The sweet tasting Yerba Santa is said to enhance beauty and be useful in spells of glamoury and illusion. In addition to its ability to magickally alter the appearance of clever sorcerers, Yerba Santa is said to protect the wearer from illness and disease when worn around the neck.  Place it on your altar as a sacred offering.  Call them Bear's Weed, Holy Herb, Mountain Balm or Tar Weed there are many more ways than wearing our purple-flowered friend about our neck to improve our health.

Yerba Santa is an excellent herbal ally for the cold parts of the year when stuffed-up noses and congested chests are passed around like holiday gifts.  'Tis the season for giving (along with all other three seasons, but that's a bit beyond the point)!  Yerba Santa is an excellent remedy for a wet cold - one that is mucousy, sniffling, and has a cough.  As an astringent and decongestant, Yerba Santa dries up excess mucous by normalizing excess mucous secretion.  Normalizing mucous secretion means that you won't have to go back and forth between too much and too little secretion leading to being too dried out and equally uncomfortable.  In addition to its powers of mucous normalization, Yerba Santa is antimicrobial and antiseptic.

In addition to colds and because Yerba Santa strengthens capillaries and stimulates the cilia of the lungs, is appropriate for treating other respiratory conditions such as asmtha, hayfever, and sinus congestion.  It is also useful for digestive complaints because it normalizes mucous secretions in the gut.  The leaves can also be chewed to quench thirst.

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Topically Yerba Santa can be used in poultices for broken bones, bruises, fever, insect bites, poison oak and ivy, rash, acne, sprains and sores.  Pretty darn useful.

I keep a small bottle of Yerba Santa tincture on me most days to help prevent asthma attacks brought on by environmental pollutants.  During a series of extensive fires outside L.A. a few summers ago the city became covered in a thick sky of ash.  I took Yerba Santa daily to help strengthen my lungs against the added environmental pollutant stress being put on my body.  It worked wonderfully and has been a well-loved herbal ally in my traveling apothecary ever since.  You can also use the leaves in a steam for clearing up congestion and opening the lung passageways.

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