Usnea, also known as old man’s beard, is a type of lichen. It grows on trees, bushes, rocks, and soil of moderate to humid climates worldwide. Usnea is a combination of algae and fungus that grow together. It has a mutually beneficial relationship. The fungus provides structure, mass, and protection from the elements, while the alga produces nutrients to sustain them both. It is distinguished by little hair-like wisps, with green algae covering the white string like fungus.
The plant body of usnea is what’s used to make medicine. Usnic acid and polyphenols, the main active compounds in usnea, are thought to provide most of its benefits. Compounds called depsides, depidones, and benzofurans may also have health benefits.
Usnea is an immune system tonic that can be used in acute situations as well as for long term immune enhancement and general prevention. It is common to take Usnea orally or apply it directly to your skin. It’s available as a tincture, tea, supplement, and medicinal cream.
- weight loss
- respiratory and sinus infections
- soothe sore throats
- accelerate wound healing
- athlete’s foot
- reduce pain and fever
- reduce inflammation
- fight infection-causing bacteria
- treats urinary ailments
- loosen mucus
- cancer protection
Fill a jar of your choice with Usnea. Pack the jar full. Then fill the jar with 100 proof vodka. Make sure the alcohol totally covers the plant material. Label your jar with the date and contents and cover it with a lid. Let it sit in a cabinet for six weeks. After six weeks strain off the liquid, compost the Usnea, and pour your extract back into the jar. It will have turned brownish orange.
By: Jenna Anderson