Give your lungs a little love with an herbal Yerba Santa steam treatment

by Juju Bearwoman

This article is dedicated to David J. Cooper, who aroused my interest in Yerba Santa.

The following Yerba Santa steam treatment can give instant relief from a variety of conditions that aggravate the lungs, including the feeling of oppression in the lungs due to the smoke of wild fires and congestion in the lungs due to phlegm. I believe the best time of day to do it is in the morning.



You can find all the herbs mentioned in this recipe from HAALo. Feel free to come by the shoppe if you have any questions or are concerned about any contraindications that might interfere with your personal health.

Items to have ready:

Trivet (optional)
Large soup pot with lid
3 cups water
Yerba Santa leaves: 10 or more whole fresh leaves (and the stem if you have it) or about ¼ cup of dried, cut and sifted Yerba Santa leaves. Fresh is best.


Boil roughly 3 cups of water in a vessel that you can easily put your head over. A large soup pot usually works better than a small one.

Add the leaves and turn the heat off after about 2 minutes simmering the herb. You can either put a trivet on your kitchen table and put the steaming pot on it and sit there, or you can leave it on your stove and stand while steaming. Be gentle in your approach to the steaming pot as the steam can burn you. Try putting the hand towel over the back of your head and lean forward over the pot. You will get the most contact with the steam if the entire towel is covering the rim of the pot, but that might be too much for the first 5 minutes. Leave a gap between the towel and the pot if it’s too hot to handle.

With your head over the pot, close your eyes and inhale the steam through both your nose and mouth (try alternating the two) slowly for a count of 6 or so, taking it deeply into your lungs and exhale through your mouth. You may want to take a little break after the first 2 minutes, during which you will want to put the lid on the pot. You can breathe in the steam for as long as it’s available.


Bonus: I often strain out the leaves and add an additional 3 cups of water with ½ cup of elder berries, bring it to a simmer for about 10 minutes and strain out the berries to make a soothing tea to drink the rest of the day.

JujuJuju works in the HAALo Herb Shoppe on Mondays.


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