Information on Usnea

Latin NameUsnea spp.
Other NamesOld Man's Beard
Part UsedThallus
Herb FormsTincture, bulk herb.
AffectsUrinary system, Integumentary system, Respiratory system
CautionsLarge doses can cause gastrointestinal irritation.
Botanical InfoA lichen which hangs in gray-green strands from pines, oaks, fir, and assorted fruit trees throughout the northern hemisphere. Lichens are unique organisms formed by an association between a green algae and a fungus.
DescriptionUsnea is a common lichen known as the "herbal antibiotic." In laboratory trials it has shown powerful inhibitory activity against strep, staph, and pneumonia infections. It is often useful for any bacterial infection of the urinary or respiratory tracts. In Chinese medicine usnea is used for headache, eye irritation, cough, and leukorrea.

Usnea has a taste of ACRID, BITTER and a temperature of COOL.


Tincture1-2 droppersful in water 2-3 x daily

Ailments Treated by Usnea

AilmentTreatment SupportApplication
Bronchitiscooling expectoranttincture
Fungal infectionsantibacterial, immune stimulanttincture externally
Kidney, infectionurinary antiseptic, immune modulatortincture
Peritonitisheat-clearing, antibiotictincture
Scarlet feverantibacterialtincture
Strep throatantibacteraltincture
Urinary passage inflammationantibacterialtincture
Staphantibacterialsalve, cream, tincture
Bladder infectionantibacterial, antifungal, immune stimulanttincture, tea


McGuffin, M. et al. 1997. Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
Hobbs, C. 1986. Usnea: The Herbal Antibiotic. Loveland, CO: Interweave Press.