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USNEA (Usnea lapponica)


Also known as 'old man's beard'.


Usnea lapponica

Botanically, usnea is a slow-growing lichen which is a symbiotic integration of a fungus with an algae. It was first used medicinally by the ancient Greeks, Chinese and Egyptians over 3000 years ago. The usnic acid, that can be extracted from this lichen, is a potent antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral agent. It can inhibit 16 known gram-positive bacteria (both the resistant and non-resistant strains) such as Mycobacteria, Streptococcus and Staphylococcus species.


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Usnea is used for acute and chronic lung infections, such as pneumonia, and for treating colds and influenza, and as an adjunct to tuberculosis (TB) treatment. Usnea kills bacteria by disrupting their metabolic function through cutting off the energy supply to their cells. Unlike bacterial cells, human cells are less permeable to usnic acid and are not adversely affected. It can be used as a wash for the treatment of impetigo which is a bacterial infection of the skin.

Usnea is also active against several viruses that present sores and lesions including the Epstein-Barr, herpes simplex and polyomavirus (a tumour causing virus) as well as the Junin and Tacaribe viruses.

Usnea has also shown to be effective as an antifungal against Candida albicans.

Associated subjects

"Nature cures not the physician..." Hippocrates 460 BC


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