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Francis Parnell, MD, an ear, nose, and throat surgeon for more than 30 years, has announced a line of healthcare products formulated with herbal extracts from the yerba santa plant targeted at symptom relief and palliative care for patients who are "mucocompromised," with symptoms such as dry mouth and throat, nasal dryness and congestion, and vaginal dryness.


Many medications, radiation, and chemotherapy, and autoimmune diseases such as AIDS and Lupus or Sjogren Syndrome can cause severe dryness in skin and mucous membranes. Yerba santa, which means holy herb, has a saliva-like composition, according to Parnell, and more moisturizing properties and greater lubricity than aloe vera. It also helps to thin nasal and sinus secretions.


An evergreen shrub that grows wild in the foothills of California and Northern Mexico, yerba santa was a favorite remedy of Native Americans, who used the plant to treat coughs, colds, sore throats, asthma, and other ailments. Soon after the herb was first brought to the attention of the medical community in 1875, a pharmaceutical preparation of the plant was marketed by Parke-Davis & Co. Physicians prescribed yerba santa for respiratory conditions, and pharmaceutical preparations of the plant were added to the US Pharmacopoeia and the National Formulary by the early 20th century.


Additional research into yerba santa has shown that the plant contains potent antioxidants in the form of flavonoids. Evidence suggests that antioxidants like flavonoids help reduce damage to cells. Antioxidants help protect the skin and membranes of the body from free radicals in the environment that are damaging.


On the basis of all of this information, and the reported effectiveness of a yerba santa preparation for severe dry mouth, Dr Parnell formulated MouthKote, using natural mucopolysaccharides and glycoproteins extracted from the herb. Another serious problem of dry mouth is that patients often develop severe dental caries. Dr. Parnell addressed this problem with the addition of xylitol, which is effective against bacteria that cause dental caries.


To date, Dr Parnell has developed more than 20 products containing patented yerba santa formulations. In addition to MouthKote, these products include Pretz spray and irrigation for nasal dryness, crusting and sinus problems, Feminease for vaginal dryness, Earsol-HC for swimmer's ear, and an extensive line of products under the YS Labs brand name that heal, moisturize, and rejuvenate the skin.


Parnell Pharmaceuticals has conducted clinical trials for several of the products, and MouthKote has undergone clinical testing at six sites. During the process, MouthKote provided substantial improvement and relief from dry mouth to over 80% of the patients. All had moderate to severe cases of xerostomia (dry mouth). Since then, MouthKote has been used nationally with great success in every type of dry mouth, such as that caused by drugs, aging, radiation therapy, and Sjogren syndrome.


Dr Parnell recently signed distribution agreements to make the products available worldwide, with an emphasis on distribution to the European countries, Canada, and throughout the United States.


For more information, or to order Parnell and YS products online, visit