Herb of The Month ~ October

October 9, 2017 |


Botanical Name: Usnea barbata
Common Name: Old man’s beard, Tree lichen, Tree moss
Family: Parmeliaceae
Ayurvedic / TCM Name: Usnea / Songluo
Parts Used: whole lichen, dried thallus
Native region: North America & Europe
Geographic Distribution: On every continent in cool, damp forests & open hilly areas. Grows well where there is minimal pollution and clean air.


usnic acid, diffractaic acid, vitamin C, carotene, essential amino acids, fatty acids, mucilage, polysaccharides, anthraquinones,


surface immune activation, demulcent, expectorant, analgesic, febrifuge, vasodilator, vulnerary, deodorant, candidicide, fungicide


kidneys, bladder, upper respiratory, reproductive organs, mucous membranes, tissues, and skin


tincture, salve, tea, steam, poultice, preservative, powder


Bitter, Sweet


Cooling, Drying

Dosage & Safety:


2-3 tbsp dried in 1 cup boiling H2O for 20-45  min. Cool before drinking.
3 cups a day.


3-4ml (1:5 ratio), 3x a day or every 2 hours for infections (short term)

~ Caution ~

Avoid during pregnancy & breastfeeding. Not to be taken long term.

Botanical Description:

A light grayish-green, slow-growing perennial lichen. Exists as a symbiosis between fungus and algae. Creates a shrub-like growth on branches and trunks of host trees. Has a white elastic cord that runs through the center of the thallus. If you pull gently on either end of this you will see the elastic, a key indicator of its specific identity. The Doctrine of Signatures suggests it’s appearance to the respiratory tract and cellular communications.

Harvesting Guidelines:

Best harvested after storms when pieces have fallen to the ground. Also suitable to collect in unpolluted areas. Has a long shelf life due to its antifungal properties.

Usnea’s most notably known component is a chemical called Usnic Acid, an ingredient used to preserve cosmetics and body care products.

Has been used for thousands of years in Chinese Medicine carrying strong energetics of clearing heat, moving dampness, and releasing toxicity from the body.  Has an affinity for the kidneys, bladder, reproductive organs, mucous membranes, upper respiratory, tissues, and skin.


effective against gram positive organisms like Strep, Staph, and Tuberculosis by destroying the organism’s metabolism. Can balance the urinary microbiome and digestive communications.


Carries strong antifungal compounds killing a number of infections including candida & ringworm


Can rid the body of viral infections held in cells and mucous membranes, including Herpes Simplex, Pneumonia, and Epstein Barr


Used as topical treatment to stop bleeding and activate healing of wounds


Bitter energy stimulates kidneys, moves stagnation, cools & releases water retention. Relaxes body tissue easing pains and cramps associated with digestive issues.


Absorbs and releases heavy metals and toxins like other fungi do. Its fatty acids & polysaccharides have anti-tumor effects.

For further guidance on choosing herbs to suit your specific health needs
& concerns or to book an appointment or complimentary 15-minute consultation contact our herbalist Rachel Fae Coleman at rachel@grotonwellness.com or call 978.449.9919.


Leave a Reply