Thursday, February 24, 2011

Usnea: The Powerful Lichen

You may have heard about the herb Usnea recently. It is not something we commonly hear a lot about, but, lately, it has been getting a little more attention. Usnea is a powerful and versatile herb that has both anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties, and can be used both orally and topically. Orally, this herb can be used to heal lung illnesses such as Bronchitis, wet or dry coughs, or other upper respiratory problems. Topically, it can be used to heal a myriad of infections.
Also known as Old Man's beard, Beard Lichen, or Treemoss, Usnea grows in little hair-like tufts, with the green algae covering the white string like fungus. This lichen grows all over the world, but particularly thrives in wet climates like the Pacific Northwest and can be found on the bark of many trees in forests of the Southeastern United States. It is a gray-green covering on tree bark and is one of the mildest yet strongest immune tonics in the herb world.
Usnea is a form of lichen, which is a combination of an algae and a fungus growing together in a symbiotic union. The fungus belongs to the division Ascomycota, while the alga is a member of the division Chlorophyta. It is classified as an aromatic and antibiotic herb, containing Lichenic acids, such as barbatic and lobaric acids. This combination is the reason Usnea is able to inhibit something as strong as tuberculosis bacillus.
Traditionally, Usnea has been used for an array of ailments including headaches, ocular irritation, malaria, scorfula, leukorrhea, bleeding, carbuncle and toxic snake bite. As an immune system herb, it can be used to help heal respiratory and sinus infections, pneumonia, profuse phlegm, strep throat, colds, flues, as well as, urinary tract, kidney, and bladder infections. This can be helpful for people with chronic fatigue syndrome, HIV, herpes, and other chronic conditions related with depressed immune systems. It is beneficial for women with yeast infections trichonomosas, bacterial vaginosis, and chlamydia, and is used to treat other fungal infections like athlete's foot and infected wounds.
In acute situations, as well as for long term immune enhancement, Usnea has been used to promote a more rapid healing process. This humble but powerful plant may be your best friend during the cold and flu season, or any other time your immune system needs an extra boost. It has no known oral side effects but may cause an allergic reaction to sensitive skin when applied topically, and it is safe for children and animals. The most common and best form of Usnea is in a tincture form. As mentioned earlier, because this herb can be used both topically and orally, it is applied differently in each application.
To use topically, mix one part Usnea with five parts of heavy stock cream or jelly to make an antibacterial cream. Because some people may experience an allergic reaction when applied topically, always try applying the topical mixture to a small patch of the affected area the first time and make sure your skin is not sensitive to the properties of this herb.
To use orally, the normal dosage in the tincture form is 6-12 drops in juice or water, or dropped directly under the tongue as desired and it can be taken up to 3 times daily. You should store tinctures in a dark cool place. Always keep them out of reach of children and always use standard guidelines for the correct dosages for children and animals, based on size and age.
Now, go. And experience the incredible healing powers of this unassuming lichen.
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

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