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What other names is Usnea known by?

Acide Usnique, Barba de Capuchino, Barbe de Jupiter, Barbe de Saint Antoine, Beard Moss, Mousse d'Arbre, Musgo de los Arboles, Old Man's Beard, Sodium Usniate, Tree Moss, Tree's Dandruff, Usnea barbata, Usnea florida, Usnea hirta, Usnea Lichen, Usnea plicata, Usnée, Usnée Barbue, Usnée Fleurie, Usniate de Sodium, Usnic Acid, Woman's Long Hair.

What is Usnea?

Usnea is a type of lichen that grows on trees. Though lichens appear to be single plants, they are really a combination of fungus and algae that grow together for their mutual benefit. Lichens grow in colorful, flat patches. Usnea may be whitish, reddish, or black. The plant body of usnea is used to make medicine.

Usnea is used for weight loss, pain relief, fever control, and wound healing; and to make phlegm easier to cough up.

Usnea is also used directly on the skin for sore mouth and throat.

Don't confuse usnea with oak moss (Evernia prunastri). Both usnea and oak moss are sometimes referred to as tree moss.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) infection. Early research suggests that applying a specific product (Zeta N, Bergamon Italia) containing zinc sulfate and usnic acid (a chemical found in usnea) to the vagina before and after surgical removal of HPV sores improves healing and reduces the recurrence of HPV infection for up to 6 months after surgery.
  • Weight loss.
  • Pain.
  • Fever.
  • Mild swelling (inflammation) of the mouth and throat.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of usnea for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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