Yerba santa is a sticky-leafed evergreen that is native to the American Southwest. It was given its name ("holy weed") by Spanish priests impressed with its medicinal properties. The aromatic leaves were boiled to make a tea to treat coughs, colds, asthma, pleurisy, tuberculosis, and pneumonia, and a poultice of the leaves was applied to painful joints.

Unlike many medicinal herbs, yerba santa actually has a pleasant taste. It has been used as a general food flavoring and in cough syrups to disguise the bad taste of other ingredients.

Yerba santa is often used for the treatment of the common cold, as well as chronic respiratory problems such as bronchitis and asthma. Unfortunately, there is no meaningful scientific evidence to indicate that it is effective. About the most that can be said scientifically is that one of its constituents, eriodictyol, might have mild expectorant properties.1

Topical yerba santa has been recommended as a treatment for poison ivy.2