Surprising Health Benefits of Usnea

Updated on January 9th, 2020

Usnea, commonly known as the tree dandruff, women’s long hair, Sodium Usniate, is a symbiotic relationship between fungus and algae. Usnea appears to be fuzzy, long strings that hang from the trees and are commonly found in forests of North America and Europe. Usnea uses are mostly for medical benefits. The green mass is often seen hanging from pine trees and dead trunks and is commonly referred to as ‘old man’s beard.’

They grow in moist habitats and are abundant in the northern hemisphere in temperate regions, especially in the coastal rainforest and sub-artic areas.  Let’s get to learn more about ‘Usnea herb.’


  • Usnea is a naturelichen. These are the combination of algae and fungus that grow together to benefit each other. This mutual benefit of algae and fungus assists in making medicine.
  • It contains Zinc Sulphate and usnic acid.
  • They are used as healing properties and in treating diseases such as warts, HPV caused by STDs.

Medical Usage

Mentioned below are some of the medical uses of this plant for your body

  • The anti-bacterial benefits make it very popular. Lichen kills bacteria found in the digestive system. It helps to maintain a healthy gut and prevents diseases caused by gram-positive bacteria. It is known to act against Streptococcus(1), as well.
  • One significant benefit of usnea is its antiviral properties. If taken regularly, the body builds up immunity against several viruses.
  • It is beneficial in treating anti-fungal infections. Research says that it can treat Candida species in fungal infections. It can be used topically as well to treat fungal infection.
  • This herb is an anti-microbial, and it’s a great way choice to treat wounds. It speeds the healing process of an injury. 
  • In China, it is used to treat bronchitis and also used as a part of herbal remedy for cancer.
  • This herb is exceptionally beneficial for people suffering from herpes, HIV, and other health conditions caused by weakened immunity. Usnea herb for herpes is very effective.
  • It has been used since ancient times to treat yeast infection in women, bacterial infections in the vagina, and Chlamydia.
  • Usnea is known to treat respiratory diseases like pneumonia, bronchitis, cough, and congestion.
  • It treats digestive disorders due to its peculiar taste and is anti-bacterial.
  • This herb treats headaches, malaria, leucorrhea(2), bleeding, and even reduce the toxicity of snake bites.

The Right Methods to Use Usnea

These are the methods to use it for its health benefits.

1. Topical Use of Usnea as Anti-Bacterial Cream

Things you will need 

shea buttercream/ petroleum jelly, usnea


Take one part of this herb and add it to five times its quantity of petroleum jelly or shea buttercream. This makes it a beneficial anti-bacterial cream to treat wounds.

2. Tincture to Treat Cough and Respiratory Diseases

Herbs for Cough

You need 

(Proportion for dried usnea and water is always 1:5) One ounce of dried usnea, 5 ounces of water, 2.5 ounces pure organic cane /grain alcohol.


  • Take a stainless-steel pot and add the dried and chopped usnea to it. 
  • Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. 
  • The water quantity must reduce to an amount that is equal to the alcohol used. Remove from heat and let it cool.
  • Pour this entire liquid in an air-tight container. Pour alcohol and mix well. Then, cover it and shake daily up to 2 weeks. Finally, strain it and then adds to a dark-colored bottle. 
  • Now, consume this mixture 1 tsp for six times every day.

3. Use It for Vaginal Infections 

You need

Usnea tincture and water.


Use it to douche for vaginal infections by mixing it with an equal proportion of water.


  • Taking above the required dosage can lead to severe liver toxicity, meaning it can cause liver inflammation and damage to the liver.
  • Some people can be allergic to this herb if you notice symptoms of rashes, irritation, or inflammation, stop using it immediately.
  • Usnea Lichen absorbs the heavy metal in the environment. If exposed, it can absorb more toxins. This is why you must always buy from a reliable seller for medicinal usage.

This herb is highly medicinal and sensitive to the body. Regular usage without medical supervision is never advised. In Chinese tradition, this herb is used for medicinal purposes routinely only when the person shows symptoms that required the medicinal use of this herb. Ingesting of it is said to help in weight loss.


1. Can I Take It If I Have a Liver Problem?

No. People with liver disease must not consume this herb as it contains chemicals that can damage the liver.

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