Usnea ( Old Mans Beard )
- Unsnea spp.
wild harvested split gill ± 7000mg
Usnea, or better known as old man’s beard is the most medicinal of all lichen, and for this reason it has been a staple in many pharmacopoeia's throughout history.
Lichen are a symbiotic relationship between an algae and a fungus. The algae is able to photosynthesize and therefore produce food for the organism, where as the fungal structure supports the algae and stops it drying out. This dual partnership allows this organism to thrive where other organisms struggle.
A distinguished traveler making his way through the valley of the Nile in 1864 discovered a vase from the 18th dynasty ( 1700- 1600 B.C.), with contents undisturbed for 3000 years. In the vase were berries and a lichen, this is the first known use of lichens as food and medicine by ancient civilizations. The Chinese have also used different Usnea spp for thousands of years. Early Chinese herbalists recommended Usnea longissima as an expectorant and as a powder to heal external ulcers, and Hippocrates of ancient Greece recommended Usnea bat·bata, for uterine complaints.
With modern research we can see that usnea spp. have antibacterial, antibiotic, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, anti-septic, and an immune enhancing benefits.
Usneas chemistry is complex and varied - more than 200 compounds have been identified including polysaccharides, mucilage, anthraquinones, endocrocin, carotene and the highly studied lichen acids
Lichen acids are effective against gram positive bacteria, such as Streptococcus (strep throat etc.) Staphylococcus (impetigo, etc.), Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and other fast-growing species. Usnic acid inhibits a process called oxidative phosphorylation which is crucial for the bacteria’s metabolism. Usnea is also anti fungal, so is effective against Candida, athlete’s foot, dandruff, and ringworm
The polysaccharides have also been studied and are shown to be immune stimulating, increasing the phagocytic potential of the reticuloendothelial system (RES). Thus the immune system may be better prepared to clear the body of cancer cells, bacteria, toxic wastes and virus-infected cells.
Usnea Spp. are very slow growing. They are mostly found on old growth trees within unpolluted habitats. They are very pollution sensitive, so we only harvest from pristine areas, after heavy rains break off old tree branches. The lichen can then be gathered from the woodland floor. We create a hydro-ethanolic extract to concentrate the chemicals found within this powerful herb