Common name: Old Man's Beard, Usnea
Family: Parmeliaceae / Usneaceae
Part used: Whole lichen
Habitat and Description: Usnea species are classified as fruticose lichens, which are a symbiosis of fungus and algae. Usnea grows on the bark and wood of coniferous (e.g. spruces, firs, and pines) and deciduous hardwood (e.g. oak, hickory, walnut, apple, and other fruit trees) host trees throughout the northern hemisphere in Asia, Europe, and North America. It is very sensitive to air pollutants and good growth is seen as an indication of clean air.
Constituents: Benzofurans notably usnic acid and derivatives, diffractaic acid, polysaccharides, mucilage, anthraquinones (endocrocin), fatty acids (oleic, linolenic, arachadonic), all essential amino acids, vitamins, carotene.
Actions: Strong antibacterial and antimicrobial, antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimitotic, antineoplastic, antiparasitic, antiproliferative, antiprotozoal, expectorant, inhibits biofilm formation, analgesic, antiseptic, immune stimulant, Drug synergist (potentiates clarithromycin against H. Pylori)
Traditional and current uses:
- Respiratory tract infections (bacterial and viral); coughs, chest infections, deep catarrh, laryngitis, pharyngitis, tonsilitis, sinusitis
- Hard to treat infections of the gut, throat, respiratory tract and skin including Streptococcus and Staphylococcus, MRSA, E-coli, pneumonococcus and others (bacterial, viral, protozoal, fungal, parasitic)
- Resistant gram-positive bacterial infections
- HPV (please see a doctor first), vaginal infections