What is Usnea?
Usnea, also known as Old Man’s Beard has for generations been a popular herb that is used by people from various corners of the world for its great medicinal and health benefits. It falls under the genus of fruticose lichens that are typically pale grayish-green and mostly grow on twigs and barks. Just like most lichens, Old Man’s Beard is an alga and a fungus symbiosis. It grows like a shrub on the host tree and usually has an elastic chord. It has vegetative reproduction that it achieves via fragmentation, asexual reproduction achieved through soredia or sexual reproduction achieved through spermatogonium and ascogonium. Naturally, Usnea has a slow growth rate but the rate can be sped up in laboratories through culture.
Medical Uses of Usnea
For years now, Usnea has proven to have quite a number of medical uses. Some of the medical uses of Usnea include:
Antibacterial Uses: Usnea is popular for its antibacterial properties. Studies have revealed that the lichen kills bacteria especially the bacteria that lodge themselves in the digestive tract. Further studies into the herb reveal that it is in fact highly beneficial to humans as it does not kill all kinds of bacteria and may leave the bacteria that are beneficial to the digestive tract unharmed. Usnea can be used to effectively remedy several conditions caused by gram positive bacteria. Some of the bacteria that it acts against effectively include Staph (Staphylococcus simulans and S. Aureus. It also acts against Streptococcus. By only killing the gram positive bacteria, it is a great way of eliminating bacteria without harming the beneficial bacteria.
Antiviral Uses: Given the fact that viruses are microscopic and live within the cells, they are pretty hard to get rid of once they attack. This is another medical benefit of Usnea. Regularly taking the herb helps in clearing the body of a wide range of viruses. It clears viruses from the bronchial area and the lungs.
Antifungal Uses: Another area in which the Old Man’s Beard may come in handy is in clearing antifungal infections. Usnea has been studied to effectively remedy several types of fungal infections, Candida species included. For its antifungal uses, the herb can be used both internally and topically, depending on how it is available and how it is preferred.
Healing Wounds: If you are looking for a quick way of healing wounds, Usnea is definitely a great option. The herb has proven to be potent in the healing of wounds. Its unique antimicrobial properties makes it a powerful agent for treating or preventing infections.
Side Effects: While Usnea hasn’t shown any serious side effects, it is advisable to not use the herb during pregnancy or while on other medication that may cause serious reactions.
How to use Usnea
The methods for preparing and using Old Man’s Beard vary depending on how it is available and what it is being used for. When being used as an antifungal herb, you can apply the herb as a topical remedy. Generously smear a gel of the herb onto the affected area. For wounds, use powdered Usnea. You can also make a tincture of the herb by brewing ground Usnea.