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usnea Usnea

Usnea is one of the lesser known home remedies, and many people don’t realize that it actually isn’t even a plant. It is often used for the antifungal and antibacterial properties, and provides some excellent natural cures for those dealing with colds. Here is a closer look at this natural home remedy and how you can use it.

Usnea Scientific Name

The scientific name of this herb is actually usnea barbata. However, there are other common names that it is known as, including usnea longissima, Old Man’s Beard, tree moss, oak moss, and even beard moss.

Usnea Description

Usnea is not actually a plant, but is really a lichen. A lichen is a combination of both fungi and algae that function together as one organism. This lichen can be found growing on trees that are older, in forests that are damp and cool. It can most often be found in forests located in the pacific Northwest. This lichen is very abundant and because of the parasitic nature could actually devastate large forests if left unchecked.

Usually it is the lichen strands or the dried thallus of this lichen that is used for home remedies.

Typical Usnea Preparations

One of the most common preparations of Usnea is in cold lozenges and cough lozenges. It also can be used as an extract or can be taken as a tea. It can sometimes be found in powder, tincture, and capsules. Externally it can be used as a poultice or a compress.

Common Uses of Usnea

This herb is common used as an antibiotic herb and it includes special acids, like barbatic, lobaric, usnic, and diffractaic acids, that can be used to inhibit tuberculosis. Internally this herb is used for antifungal and antibacterial uses. However, it can be used externally as well. It is often used in lozenges, gargles, and even mouthwashes to treat inflammation of the mucus membranes. In the past it has been used as a compress for battle wounds because of the antibiotic properties which can fight off infection as well as gangrene.

Other common uses include treating the following:

  • fungal infections
  • colds
  • abscesses
  • cystitis
  • influenza
  • skin ulcers
  • vaginal infection
  • respiratory infection
  • sore throat
  • gastrointestinal problems
  • oral infections
  • headaches
  • sunstroke

Usnea Precautions

Although there are no real side effects noted for this herb, it is recommended that it not be used for more than three weeks at a time. Women who are pregnant should not use it either, since it can cause uterine contractions to occur.