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Yerba Santa

Botanical: Eriodictyon glutinosum (BENTH.)
Family: N.O. Hydrophyllaceae

---Synonyms---Mountain Balm. Consumptive's Weed. Gum Bush. Bear's Weed. Holy or Sacred Herb. Eriodictyon Californicum (Hook and Arn.).
---Part Used---Dried leaves.
---Habitat---California, Northern Mexico.


---Description---A low, shrubby evergreen plant, 2 to 4 feet high, found growing abundantly in clumps on dry hills in California and Northern Mexico. The stem is smooth, usually branched near the ground, and covered with a peculiar glutinous resin, which covers all the upper side of the plant. Leaves, thick and leathery, smooth, of a yellowish colour, their upper side coated with a brownish varnish-like resin, the under surface being yellowish-white reticulated and tomentose, with a prominent midrib, alternate, attached by short petioles, at acute angle with the base; shape, elliptical, narrow, 2 to 5 inches long 3/4 inch wide, acute and tapering to a short leaf-stalk at the base. The margin of the leaf, dentate, unequal, bluntly undulate. The flowers, bluish, in terminal clusters of six to ten, in a one-sided raceme, the corolla funnel-like, calyx sparsely hirsute.

---Constituents---The chief constituents are five phenolic bodies, eriodictyol, homoeriodictyol, chrysocriol, zanthoeridol and eridonel. Free formic and other acids, glycerides of fatty acids; a yellow volatile oil; a phytosterol, a quantity of resin, some glucose. Taste, balsamic and sweetish, afterwards acrid, but not bitter, recalls Dulcamara and creates a flow of saliva. Odour, aromatic. The leaves are brittle when dry, but flexible in a warm, moist atmosphere. Eriodictyon Californicum is official in the United States Dispensary. Alcohol is the best agent for the fluid extract of the dried plant.

---Medicinal Action and Uses---Recommended for bronchial and laryngeal troubles and in chronic pulmonary affections, in the treatment of asthma and hay-fever in combination with Grindelia robusta. Likewise advised for haemorrhoids and chronic catarrh of the bladder. Much used in California as a bitter tonic and a stimulating balsamic expectorant and is a most useful vehicle to disguise the unpleasant taste of quinine. Male fern and Hydrastis. In asthma, the leaves are often smoked. Aromatic syrup is the best vehicle for quinine.

---Dosage---15 to 60 grains.

---Other Species---E. tomentosum, often found growing next to E. Californicum, especially in South California, but is easily distinguished from E. Californicum, being a larger shrub, and having a dense coat of short, villous hairs, colouring with age, whity-rusty; corolla, salver-shaped; leaves oval or oblong, and obtuse.

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Bear in mind "A Modern Herbal" was written with the conventional wisdom of the early 1900's. This should be taken into account as some of the information may now be considered inaccurate, or not in accordance with modern medicine.

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