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Herb Spotlight - Osha

Osha (Ligusticum porteri)

Family: Apiaceae

Part Used: Root

Flavor/Aroma: Pungent, Bitter

Energetics: Warming, Moving, Drying


Herbal Actions: 

Stimulent, Expectorant2, Antispasmodic, Antiviral, Circulatory stimulant, Diaphoretic, Anodyne, Febrifuge, Antirheumatic, Stomachic, Anticatarrhal2, Anti allergy1

Overview:

Osha, also known as Bear root, is a powerful stimulant that has been revered for its hotter therapeutic characteristics, earning it a place as a go to fever remedy and as a way to relieve productive coughs. 

Botany:

Osha, also known as Bear root, is a powerful stimulant that has been revered for its hotter therapeutic characteristics, earning it a place as a go to fever remedy and as a way to relieve productive coughs. 

Cultivation and Harvesting:

Osha grows abundantly throughout the Rocky Mountain and Cascade Mountain ranges, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Washington and Wyoming. It typically grows at elevations above 5000-6000 feet above sea level. Osha root is harvested with care in the autumn season or later in the spring, when the energy is more centered in the root of the plant.2

Southern Oregon Cultivation:

Osha is typically found in the wild at higher elevations, on hillsides and along rocky mountain trails. It thrives in cooler climates and in more agitated, moist soils, making it an easily identifiable plant while journeying through the many mountain ranges of Southern Oregon. Although it may seem popular in the wild, please take care when approaching a stand of Osha due to the threat of overharvesting and endangerment to the various species.  

History and Folklore:

American Native Uses: Osha is referred to as a bear medicine by many tribes due to the anecdotal evidence of bears consuming these roots after emerging from a long winter hibernation as a way to stimulate their appetites; its root was also dark, brown, and hairy similar to that of a bear. Osha was used by the Apaches as a stimulant, prevent colds, and to remedy coughs, the Hopi and the Navajo as a good luck charm and associated it with protection, and amongst all tribes it was commonly given as a valued offering to elders.1 

Adorning oneself with a slice of Osha root was said to bring protection and luck to the wearer. 

Traditional Chinese Medicinal Uses: Osha is used in a variety of ways to treat stagnation and damp patterns. It was used to remedy bronchial infections, troublesome coughs, and typically used in combination with a moxa therapy- or burning of dried herbs similar to incense.2

Modern Applications:

Osha is indicated to support respiratory infections, productive coughs, bacterial and viral illnesses, general stagnation, and to reduce altitude sickness as well. It is used to remedy headaches, shortness of breath, and difficulty sleeping. Osha is also used to support rheumatic pains, to soothe swelling, gout, bronchitis, typhoid, malarial infections, and help break troublesome fevers.1,3

Uses and Preparations:

Dried Herb Tea Preparation: 

½ Tablespoon decocted in one cup of warm water.

Using a reusable tea bag or tea ball, immerse the loose dried herbs into boiling water and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes, preferably covered, in order to release the maximum amount of herbal goodness. Some herbal tea can carry a strong flavor. We recommend organic honey as a sweetener which preserves the beneficial herbal compounds. 

Tincture: 

2-6 mL up to 3 times per day.

Some herbal tinctures can have a strong flavor on their own. Adding your tincture to a glass of 6-8oz of water is one easy way to help, should you wish to dilute the flavor.  

Dosage:

It is important to remember that some bodies may react differently than others when using herbal products. Our recommended dosages are designed to be an average dosage only. If you have specific concerns about the dosage amount or interaction with other medication, please consult with your doctor or health care practitioner prior to using our products.  

Precautions:

We recommend consulting with your practitioner if you are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant, or if you are using any other medications.

References:

  1. Materia Medica Monthly: Osha. (2018). Your Path to Mastery in the Art of Herbal Medicine: THe School of Evolutionary Herbalism. Volume Nine: Osha (Lingusticum spp.). 
  2. Osha. (n.d). www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/kings/angelica-arch.html 
  3. Nguyen, K., Omoruyi, FO., Sparks, J. (November 14, 2016). Investigation of the cytotoxicity, antioxidative and immune-modulatory effects of Ligusticum porteri (Osha) root extract on human peripheral blood lymphocytes. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27854198  

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.