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Old Man’s Beard, Usnea

Old Man’s beard, Usnea (Usnea spp.)


Old man’s beard, also known as Usnea is a term used to refer to a variety of lichen species that belong to the Parmeliaceae family. Generally, it grows by hanging on tree branches and resembles greenish or grey hair. It has a look that similar to Spanish moss and grows in most parts of the world. It can be identified with ease by looking at its core after taking separating it. The core should always be white and stretchy when the strands are tugged gently. It thrives well in damp, cool places.


Medicinal Uses

Usnea has numerous medicinal uses and in actual sense, has been in use for the last one thousand years. It is rich in Usnic acid which is known as a potent antifungal and antibiotic agent. Because of its structure which is hair like, it was commonly used in the past for the purpose of treating wounds on the surface and especially when modern antibiotics and sterile gauze were unavailable. The plant is edible and considered ideal because it is rich in vitamin C.


In modern medicine, it is used to treat different types of conditions such as the following.


  • It is used for the treatment of tract urinary infections.
  • Treatment of upper tract respiratory problems.
  • Lung infections.
  • Since it is rich in Usnic acid, it is also used for the purpose of treating fish infections in ponds and aquariums.
  • Its medicinal properties also make it the ideal choice for treatment of coughs, infections, sore throat and common colds.
  • When Usnea is gathered from the tree branch and compressed, it can be used as a dressing for wounds. It is precisely because of this reason that its use in the wildness is largely associated with the treatment of injuries. What is more, it is still been used in modern medicine for the same purpose.


Old man’s beard medicinal properties can be extracted effectively with the use of alcohol rather than water and it is for this reason that it is more effective taken in the form of tincture rather than tea.


Dosage and Administration

Old Man’s beard, Usnea (Usnea spp.) can either be administered in capsule or tincture form and this is what affects the dosage. When it is in capsule form, you are supposed to take at least 100 milligrams of Usnea 3 times a day while in tincture form it should be taken three times a day in three to four milliliters.


Parts Used

The whole plant can be put to good use whether it is for medicinal purposes or food.



Old man’s beard is associated with numerous benefits and since it grows in the US, Europe and other parts of the globe, it is widely used because of this. Some of the major benefits associated with the use of Usnea include the following.

  • It is used for the treatment of inflammation of the bladder mucus membrane. Stomach, intestines, throat, urethra, lungs reproductive tract and intestines.
  • It has anti fungal, anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties.
  • It comes in handy as an immune booster.
  • People with respiratory upper tract infections such as pneumonia, flu, colds and bronchitis can benefit from the herb.
  • It comes in handy for cancer treatment.
  • It is also used for the treatment of skin lesions and open wounds.
  • Usnea has properties that boost an individual’s metabolism rate and for this reason, it can also be used for the purpose of weight loss.
  • Herbalists suggest that it is an ideal choice for stimulating digestion


Side Effects    

There are no side effects which have been linked to the use of Old man’s beard, Usnea (Usnea spp.) as long as it is administered in the right dosage. However, in cases of over dosage, there are side effects which might occur though there is no documentation to prove this. There are some cautionary measures which need to be taken into place before use of Usnea and some of these are as highlighted below.


  • Since Usnea is lichen, it is susceptible to attract pollutants like radiation and heavy metals. For this reason, you should be careful about where you collect the herb.
  • Animals that have eaten lichens that have been contaminated should not be eaten since the poison can be passed to humans.
  • If you are using Usnea for the first time, exercise caution and as such, consult with your physician first in order to be on the safe side.


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