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My Favorite Herb This Week: Usnea

Usnea, A.K.A “Lungs of the Forest”

I tell you what, my friends: Usnea tincture is my BEST FRIEND this year. Usnea is that sort of furry-looking green lichen that you see hanging off trees this time of year, or that often blows down from high above during a wind storm. Winter is the best time to forage for usnea, since it’s really the only time you can see it! If you find some “Old Man’s Beard,” but aren’t positive of your identification, just peel the stem portion apart; if the core is white, you have usnea.

I had the WORST cold ever last week, so bad in fact that I still cough if I take too deep a breath right now. Thank goodness I make usnea tincture pretty much any time I find the stuff! About 2-3 teaspoons worth generally does the trick for me–I tend to dose higher when I’m actually sick. Within seconds, my lungs can take a full breath again. It’s amazing what medicine the forest can give us! Usnea is absolutely my go-to remedy for any kind of respiratory infection. I even combined it with a little Spilanthes tincture to help boost my immune system and get rid of that nasty head cold.

I prefer to use usnea for when I can definitely tell I have a viral infection, though I’m sure it would help a bacterial infection as well. For a more general, localized, or daily cough, Mullein is a go-to plant for us. More on Mullein in another post.

Do you want to be sure you are properly identifying Usnea lichen? Why not take one of my Foraging Classes?

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