Salves, Balms, misc
Herbal First Aid
Healthy Body Support
ALL ABOUT MEDICINAL HERBS, Part II
The herbal and health information provided in this Web Site is intended as historical information only. It is based on the personal experiences of medicinal herbs users. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent diseases. Nothing in this Web Site should be considered as medical advice for dealing with a given medical problem. You should consult your health care professional for individual guidance for specific health problems, especially if you have a serious medical condition. It can be dangerous to mix medicinal herb products with prescription drugs. It can be dangerous to stop taking a prescription drug without consulting with your health care professional. If you are under professional health care, consult your provider before either stopping prescribed medications or adding medicinal herbs.
(Photos on this web page by Hal or Cat Farneman unless otherwise noted.)
On this page we are going to discuss a few herbs that are good remedies for illnesses such as colds and flu, and relief of the symptoms that come with these illnesses.
Yerba Santa (Eriodictyon angustifolium), Other names: Mountain Balm, Holy Herb, Bear Plant, Saint's Herb, Indian Chewing Gum.
Yerba Santa is a great upper respiratory herb. It has a resinous coating and is aromatic. Use as a tea or tincture for coughs, lung and sinus congestion and infused in oil for muscle and chest rubs. In order to infuse Yerba Santa into oil you must first sprinkle it with alcohol to dissolve the resins. Drink the tea hot to induce sweating to break a fever. Inhale the steam from the hot tea to clear sinus and chest congestion. It thins mucous and is useful as an expectorant, decongestant and bronchial dilator for chest colds, bronchitis, asthma, sinus infections and hay fever. The resin complex and phenols in Yerba Santa make it useful for mild bladder and urethra infections. Since these properties are only partially water soluble, an alcohol tincture is preferable, twenty to thirty drops in water several times per day. Yerba Santa has no specific toxicities in moderate doses and up to an ounce of the leaves can be used to make a tea or infusion to drink in one day. It is safe for children, using one half of the normal adult dose. The leaves can also be used in a vaporizor to relief congestion.
Inhaling smoke from Yerba Santa leaves is useful to calm mild bronchial spasms. Burning a Yerba Santa smudge can be used to warm up trigger points, espeically on the hands and feet. This will give relief from headache and muscle spasms. The fresh leaves make a pleasant and tasty chewing gum, bitter and balsamic at first, with a sweet aftertaste which freshens the mouth and breath.
Yerba Santa's medicinal properties are strongest right after blooming, either in late spring or after a drought-breaking rain has brought out new foliage. Use the leaves either fresh or dried. Gather by breaking off branches full of leaves. Spread out the branches or hang them individually to dry. If you leave the branches clumped together in a bag or box, the resin on the tops of the leaves will glue the leaves together so you will end up with a black, sticky, unusable mass. Once dried, the resin is no longer a problem. When using fresh leaves for tea or tincture, cut them into small pieces with scissors or a knife, then use alcohol to clean the resin build up from the utencil. If dried leaves are being used, simply crumble them into small pieces. For smoking, it is best to use the mature leaves that are starting to dry and turn yellow around the edges and are almost ready to fall off, found near the base of large stems and the main trunk of the bush. (Refer to Moore, Michael, Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West, Museum of New Mexico Press, Santa Fe, New Mexico, revised 2003.)
DIAMOND WILLOW FUNGUS (Haploporous odoratus) Also known as the Migraine Mushroom.
Traditional Uses by First Nation Peoples of Canada:
The Diamond Willow fungus is Haploporous odoratus (or odorus). It is collected in the woods, far north of Vancouver, B.C. It is burned in evening to keep "spirits" away from the home. A traditional use is breathing the smoke from the fungus to relieve headaches. It is burned like incense. Its aroma is like a woodsy, pleasantly sweet anise or patchouli. The smoke from the Diamond Willow fungus also keeps mosquitoes away, a natural alternative to chemicals. Note: there are other species of fungus that grow on the Diamond Willow trees father south. These other species do not give the migraine relief that Hapoloporous odoratus does. (photo on left from the internet--no name given. Photo on right by Cat Farneman)
My experience with the Diamond Willow Fungus:
I was introduced to the Diamond Willow Fungus by a man from Canada who noticed I was exhibiting symptoms of an intense migraine headache during one of the days I was attending a primitive skills camp. At first I was reluctant to try it because it involved breathing in smoke from the fungus and I knew nothing about its use or possible side effects. When I finally decided to try it, the man lit the piece of dried fungus with a lighter, let it burn for about a minute, then blew out the flame and instructed me to take four or five good breaths of the smoke. I did this and found that neither the odor nor the effect of it was unpleasant. After about five minutes I felt some of the migraine pain beginning to subside. After about ten minutes most of the pain was releasing. At the end of fifteen minutes, all my symptoms were gone, including the “aura” around the edges of my vision, my left eyelid opened, the nausea went completely away, and I could tolerate light and sound without extreme discomfort. It was as if I had never had the migraine and I felt no side effects either from the migraine headache (which normally left me feeling ill for several days) or from breathing the smoke of the fungus.
I had been experiencing very bad migraine headaches since I was a teenager, usually suffering many every year. As I used the Diamond Willow Fungus for subsequent migraines, the frequency of the migraines decreased, giving me a longer time between headaches each time. I have now gone three years without a significant migraine headache. This is a miracle in my life and I am very grateful to that man who introduced me to the Diamond Willow Fungus.
As I have shared the use of this Diamond Willow Fungus with other people, many who have tried it experienced the same headache relief that I did. For some it did not relieve all of the symptoms, but did relieve the worse pain. Some people tell me it works well for stress headaches that are not migraine related. Many women and teenage girls have told me that breathing the smoke from this Diamond Willow Fungus relieved menstrual cramps. —Cat Farneman, St. George, Utah