Herbal Supplements
'Warming' Herb - Osha
Osha is one of the herb of so-called "bear medicine". In many cultures the bear is considered to be the prime healing animal, which uses herbs for its own good. In case with Osha, bears will roll on it and cover themselves with its scent; it will have the same effect as catnip for cats. Also first thing to do after hibernation a bear will eat osha, if it can find it, to cleanse its digestive system.
 
Biological Description
 
Osha, or Ligusticum porter belongs to the family Apiacea (Umbelliferae). It is a perennial herb used for its medicinal properties. Osha is also known by the other names, such as Colorado Cough Root, Indian Root, Mountain Ginseng, Wild Lovage, Mountain Carrot, Empress Of The Dark Forest, Bear Medicine, Nipo, and Porters Lovage.
 
Osha possesses the characteristic of umbel flower shape and leaves that look a little like parsley. It is pretty high, grows in aspen groves among their roots that makes digging very difficult. It has long thin hollow stalk with large fern-like divided green leaves (and golden in autumn). The seeds and flowers are at the top of the plant and spread out in the form of an umbrella. Osha’s flowers are white and the seeds have a sweet celery-like smell, as well as the entire plant.
 
The plant can be confused with poisonous hemlock, but the Osha’s root is quite hairy and possesses a strong smell similar to celery. It is brown on the outside and yellow on the inside, with a soapy feeling when you touch it.
 
Growing
 
Osha grows throughout the entire Rocky Mountain range from Mexico to Canada.
The plant does not like to be domesticated. For that reason, the most available osha is taken from the wild. It inhabits dry, upland meadows and ravines. It can be dried in the sun without harm and will last for years in the dried form. Because of the potent antibacterial and antiviral substances in the root it will not rot. The plant prefers moist, fertile ground.
 
Osha is already facing extinction in the wild.
 
Parts Used
 
For medical purposes the root of the plant is used. Although it is the root that is used medicinally, the leaves and seeds make excellent culinary additions.
 
Market
 
Osha root can be found in the dried form, in the form of tinctures and root extracts. A simple cough syrup can be made at home. Mix the ground root with twice the amount of honey, steep for an hour, then press out when cool and use the liquid. You can also find Osha root in the form of tea (remedy in cold and sore throat) and powdered root (excellent on skin wounds to prevent infection, and is used to make cough syrup) in the market. A tea of the boiled root loosens phlegm and combats viral colds and flu. An infusion of the roots is used externally to treat body aches.
 
Root tea, or a stronger thick boiled decoction, can be used like echinacea for the treatment of respiratory infections such as flu, colds, sore throat, and typical upper respiratory congestion. It is more effective than Echinacea and goldenseal when one is already acute and congested.
 
Most over-the-counter Osha formulas for colds and flu combine Osha with Echinacea and goldenseal in an alcohol based tincture. Make sure to read labels carefully if you are sensitive to either herb. Osha is also sold in capsule form in combination with Lomatium root, which is another reputed immune enhancer.
 
Action
 
The plant is famous for its antiviral, diaphoretic, carminative, diuretic, and decongestant properties. It also stimulates the immune system. Osha is an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, febrifuge, and antirheumatic. It is very effective in case of viral infections of the sinuses, throat, and upper and lower respiratory systems. Osha induces sweating and helps eliminate toxins through the pores of the skin, and helps bring up respiratory secretions and relaxes smooth muscle. The last one is very good for coughs and asthmatic breathing difficulties.
 
Key components of the herb are volatile oils, essential oil, terpenes, lactone glycoside, alkaloid, sterols, saponins, ferulic acid and phytosterols. Z-ligustilide, one of the active constituents of osha, acts gently against bacterial and yeast infections, while relaxing the muscles lining the respiratory passages. Lactone (ligustilide) is one of the major ingredients responsible for therapeutic effects of Osha. This is, actually, the component, that gives the herb anti-asthmatic properties, together with anti-viral and anti-microbial ones.
 
Health Benefits
 
1.    "Warming" herb for the respiratory system:
It is good for head colds with dry, irritating coughs, acute influenza with coughing and dyspnea (difficulty breathing), the initial stages of acute (and subacute) pharyngitis and acute bronchial pneumonia with dyspnea. It has rather strong antiviral proterties, that is why should be taken at the first minimal signs of flu or cold. Then the result would be better.
 
Osha is extremely good for sore throats and bronchial inflammations (chewing the root raw soothes sore throat and gum irritation). It will immediately soothe and cause sweating (thanks to its diuretic properties), thereby helping to eliminate toxins.
 
It is effective even in such type of infections as herpes. It can be used as a preventative for those prone to sore throats and lung congestion or who get secondary infections from allergies
 
2.    Useful herb for other body systems:
·  the upper gastrointestinal,
·  cardiovascular, central nervous system,
·  lymphatic,
·   reproductive,
·   integumentary,
·   parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems
 
Osha is excellent for stomach indigestion and for cramping or pain associated with the beginnings of ulceration. The roots, seed and essential oil of this plant stimulates the circulation, kidneys and uterus. Osha is used to treat tuberculosis, headaches, toothache, emphysema, pneumonia, painful menstruation and retained placenta. It has also been used in case of motion and air sickness, as it increases oxygen utilization and uptake into the body.
 
It you take Osha for extended periods of time, take a week-long break every couple of months. The herb should not be used during pregnancy, as large amounts may cause uterine contractions. Also during breastfeeding.
Testimonials
Geoadi
2015-10-26 17:46:08
I mix Osha root tea and licorice tea to be able to drink it,this mix would be a big help for kids that dont like bitter taste
Lil
2015-02-16 05:25:30
I use to use osha years ago but forgot it. I started back and it does work wonderful. I have started to see signs and wonders in my body. This is an awesome herb for any respiratory ailment.
Anonymous
2014-11-28 21:29:13
MommyinNeed,
How did you get it down your 3 year old? It tastes awful!
Kathy
2013-01-23 09:07:36
I have been using osha root and I have not been sick. I am a hospital RN. I am curious, though, how do you make it so can be used on wounds? I have read it heals wounds. Also, how is that one guy inhaling it? I buy the root in bulk. Are you inhaling a liquid form or what?
Chaille
2012-03-13 08:24:02
An Objibwe indian advise to inhale it through my nose for sinus infections. It worked. Should it be inhaled for COPD though?
cjandjr
2012-02-13 21:13:46
i was diagnosed with polycythemia. do you think osha could help?
lillylangtree
2011-02-19 23:10:53
Thank you for talking about the Bear Herb, Osha. I have been in the hospital 2 times last week for asthma and bronchitis and taking every every herb known to man. This tastes like celery seed. I made a tea with the tincture 40 drops and honey. It seems to help open up things, Great Article!! Thank you, On my list of must have herbals!
MommyInNeed
2010-12-21 23:44:52
My 3 year old is always sick with coughs and respiratory problems since she was diagnosed with Pertusis (whooping cough) . The doctors have giver her so much including 4 inhalers. Nothing has ever worked until a native american friend gave me bear root. It is the only thing that has ever let her sleep through the night. I think its been a month since she has woken up coughing and gasping for air.
Puddin
2010-06-18 16:43:35
this is just what I needed to hear. Someone has recommened I try Osha root and I have very reduce oxygen in my lungs. Thanks for reporting.
Chaparral
2009-01-16 22:00:20
I have been using Osha for about four years. I was dianozed with COPD and perscribed four different types of puffers a day. I stopped using any of them and last spring my doctor said to me\\\" You see I was right.The puffers were the correct thing for you to be using. This is the first time in years I have heard air in the bottom of your lungs.\\\" I said \\\"George I have not been using the puffers. I use only bear root
bettyqntn@yahoo.com
2008-06-30 10:02:46
Thank you for much needed information.
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