Usnea is a lichen, an organism that has characteristics of a Fungus and and Algae. There are several species of Usnea growing from various species of trees especially in the moist, cool, forests of the pacific Northwest. It resembles Spanish Moss, and hangs from tree limbs looking like a beard; hence one of the common names, Old Man's Beard. Usnea has been used in traditional Chinese Medicine for over 2,000 years and also has a long tradition of use in Western Botanical medicine. Usnea’s energetic properties as written about in Traditional Chinese Herbals are regarded as cooling and drying, and its functions are described as “clears heat, moves damp, and resolves toxicity”. In modern terms we know that Usnea contains a chemical called Usnic Acid. Usnic acid has been included as an ingredient in creams, powders, toothpastes, mouthwash, deodorants, hair shampoos and sunscreen products. In some of these preparations, usnic acid is employed as an active principle, in others as a preservative. In herbal practice Usnea Lichen is traditionally prepared as a alcohol tincture or extract. It is used to promotes excretion within the kidneys and the urinary tract, to support a healthy immune response in the respiratory tract and mucous membranes, to supports healthy functions of the urinary system, and to maintain a healthy microbial balance within the Urinary System.
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