Brittlebrush – A Desert Dwellers Best Friend


The Cowboy’s Toothbrush

Brittlebrush or Encelia farinosa is a plant that is tailored to folks who live in the vast desert landscapes. Its sage like leaves and cheery yellow flowers are always a welcome sight in the wide fields of cactus. While this plant is pretty to look at, you’re probably asking yourself what its good for. Lets find out!


For those of you who reside in the places of Arizona where this plant is abundant, one of the main health complaints people have there each year is allergies. And wouldn’t you know it; this little plant can help you relieve some of those pesky and irritating symptoms! Brittle brush is excellent for hay fever as well as irritated eyes, a runny nose and sneezing. The easiest way to use this plant for allergy relief is to macerate the leaves and flowers in alcohol and strain before use. You can then use it as you would any other tincture.

Oral Health:

Got a toothache? Brittlebrush has got you covered! The stems of this plan contain a yellowish liquid that can be used to relieve tooth pain. It does create a slight numbing effect, so head’s up before you use it.  In a pinch you can used the liquid as toothpaste! In the old west, cowboys often pulled up a full stem and used it to brush their teeth. How crazy is that?!

Spiritual Cleansing:

If you’re out of incense, you can also dry the sap from the stems into a resin to use for this purpose. Many of the Spanish priests who settled in California used Brittlebrush in this manner. The locals called the plant “incienso” (incense) and it produces a scent similar to frankincense when burned. While the priests made resin, many of the Native American cultures bundled the plant and burned it for their religious ceremonies or cleansing purposes.


Some other uses for this plant included the Native Americans using the heated sap as a glue to hold together arrows and weapons as well as sealing or waterproofing pottery. For other forms of pain relief or healing you can grind the dried liquid into a powder and use topically to help heal wounds or for general pain relief. All in all, Brittlebrush is a diverse and helpful herbal ally to have.

One of the coolest things I’ve learned about herbal medicine is that Mother Nature puts plants for ailments or afflictions in the specific climate that creates them. She intuitively knows how to heal people. Get to know the local plants in your area. You never know what kind of treasures or new friends you might find.

Additional Information:

Helps with: Bloating, Indigestion, Toothache, Chest Congestion, Pain, Arthritis, Hay fever/Allergies

Properties: Anti-inflammatory, Expectorant, Analgesic, Sedative,

Parts Used:  Leaves & Stems

*As always please check with your doctor before starting any new herbal regimen. These statements and products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. If you have a health concern or condition, consult a physician. Always consult a medical doctor before modifying your diet, using any new product, drug, supplement, or doing any new exercises.



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