Usnea is a kind of lichen that grows abundant on trees. Lichens are not plants, rather they are organisms composed of fungi and algae. Usnea lichens grow and thrive symbiotically with trees. It loves to thrive on sick or old and moribund trees, causing some people to blame usnea for the death of their trees. City trees rarely have usnea because it is very sensitive to air pollution.
List alternative names:
Songluo (in Chinese)
Old man’s beard
Tree moss (Note: oak moss is also called as tree moss)
Who would benefit from it?
This herbal ingredient presents benefits for people of all ages. Its benefits span a range of health conditions and ailments.
- It heals and alleviates skin inflammation.
- It is used as a topical antiseptic because it promotes rapid healing of skin wounds.
- It controls profuse bleeding.
- It soothes oral inflammation and sore throat. In some countries, it is processed as lozenges.
- It heals bronchitis.
- It is found helpful for thyroid cancer.
- It is effective in killing tuberculosis, strepcococcus and staphylococcus (often found in boils and acne) bacteria.
- Usnea lichen is prized for its analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
- Even though it is composed of fungi and algae, usnea lichen is an effective topical treatment against athlete’s foot, Chlamydia, and body odor. It is sometimes used as a deodorant.
Detailed Information on Its Benefits
The primary pharmacological content in usnea lichen is usnic acid. Usnic acid works against several gram-positive bacteria. Usnic acid inhibits a certain process called oxidative phosphorylation which is crucial for the bacteria’s metabolism. Usnic acid is yellow and bitter, thus deterring animals from grazing on usnea lichens. Because usnea lichen is highly medicinal, it is not recommended to be taken continuously. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is used routinely and periodically, only when a person exhibits certain ailments. It is used mostly as a topical medication, although some consume usnea internally. The use of usnic acid in weight loss is still disputed. Nevertheless, usnic acid is effective for the aforementioned purposes.
Like mushrooms, usnea lichen has the tendency to absorb and retain heavy metals in the environment. If exposed to vehicular exhaust, they would absorb its toxins after which they would cease from thriving. For safety purposes, acquire usnea only from a reputable seller.
Should You Consider Taking It?
Usnea lichen is among the trusted and proven herbal medicine when it comes to treating certain viral, bacterial and fungal diseases. It is often unheard of, but its benefits are undisputed.