Osha for respiratory and digestive health
Have you heard of Osha (Ligusticum porteri)? I have read a lot about it during the past years, but this is the first year for me to actually work with some fresh roots. It has a rather strong distinctive aroma and a spicy flavor that I really like, so working with it was fun. I made some cough syrup, osha tincture and candied osha from the first batch.
So what is Osha good for?
Osha is often called Bear Medicine, because Native Americans – taking their cue from bears – traditionally used to chew this Bear root to increase energy.
It is one of the best treatments for viral infections, either tinctured or chewed; it brings about thorough sweating and elimination of toxins, especially if used at the first sign of infection. For sore throats and bronchial infections the root in any form will sooth and anesthetize almost immediately, with expectoration. It opens up the sinuses, resolves phlegm and relieves coughing and wheezing. Osha contains silica which helps to explain its restorative action on lung tissue.
The tea is an excellent stomach bitter for indigestion and recuperation, especially if there has been vomiting. It warms the stomach and relieves abdominal pain. It is also known to promote menstruation and urination and helps to expel the placenta after birth. It is also a specific remedy for High Altitude Sickness (HAS).
The tincture or tea is antibacterial and can be used for abrasions and superficial infections. For maximum benefits you can chew on the roots or encapsulate them after drying/grinding.
Osha Cough Syrup recipes
Osha makes an excellent cough syrup. One method is to grind/slice up the root and steep in twice of its volume of honey or maple syrup and simmer over low heat for an hour, then press out when partially cooled. If you make a really thick syrup, you can keep the roots and cover them with your syrup. Or, strain them from your syrup, put in a jar and cover with fresh honey. An other method is to buy White Pine Compound Cough Syrup and Osha tincture to it, in a 3:1 ratio.
Osha Tincture recipe
Use 1 part (by weight) root to 2 part (by volume) 70% ethanol
Other Applications of Osha
Antivenomous- an ambiguous broad-action term to help to describe osha’s interesting ability to mollify, nullify and somehow alter a variety of poisonous substances. The poisons I am referring to are those specifically injected by snakes, spiders (cytotoxic, not neurotoxic) and the Hymenoptera (the insect order including wasps, bees and ants). It may be a combination of flavors and its destagnating qualities to help break up vexing molecules. Whatever the reason, here’s what I suggest. If someone gets bit or stung by one of these critters, give them osha. I usually use tincture, that is what I generally have on hand, but I would use whatever form I had. Administer it quickly as its actions are better sooner than later. Dosage, taking constitution into consideration, about ½ to 1 ml every 15-30 minutes. And probably a loading dose of 3 times that. In other words, start off by giving them a butt-load and as long as they are feeling the effect of the bite or sting, keep giving medium amounts, decreasing both amount and frequency with time. But keep dosing it on the high end in the beginning to let osha do its thing. You can also make a poultice or compress to apply locally. Now, if they are going into shock, anaphylaxis, having a hard time breathing, or it just looks bad, seek help now. Go on, forget the fact that you want to see herbs work, you gotta get them professional assistance (think 911). It becomes apparent that one of the most important first aid skills is being able to decipher a potentially dangerous situation from one within your skills of practice. – SevenSong
It may be used during histamine flare-ups or non-life threatening allergic reactions. Both Sevensong and Margi Flint refer to Osha as a great anti-allergy medicine. Results are almost immediate after administration. Sevensong notes that it works well with other antihistamine-type herbs such as Ambrosia and Euphrasia.
Osha has a long traditionally-held reputation as a protective device. Words such as talisman, charm and fetish are also used to describe the property of objects to ward off specific or general scary, hurtful, or menacing spirits. These are often hung around the neck either unadorned or in a
pouch. It has also been worn to keep away snakes.
Cold infusion or short decoction: 3-8g
Tincture: 0.5-3ml at the above mentioned strenght
Word of Caution
Contraindicated during pregnancy as it is an uterine stimulant.
- Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West by Michael Moore
- Los Remedios (Traditional Herbal Remedies of the Southwest) by Michael Moore
- Energetics of Western Herbs by Peter Holmes
- The Practicing Herbalist by Margi Flint
- Sevensong: Osha – with a focus of First Aid Uses
- Class notes (Julie James)
- Articles by Jim McDonald