You’ve most likely seen usnea, also known as Old Man’s Beard, when you are out in the forest or woods. As somewhat of a nature girl, the curious usnea (lichen) was one of my favorites to collect as a kid (along with pinecones, acorns, and geodes) and display on my bedroom windowsill.
Little did I know that one day I would rely on super-medicinal usnea as an antibiotic for kidney and bladder infections.
Antibiotic overuse for numerous childhood ear infections caused my body to seriously react to antibiotics (anaphylaxis and full-body rashes) while yet in nursing school, making it imperative to find effective, natural alternatives.
Since then, I’m blessed to have been spared the antibiotics I might have taken, such as dangerous fluoride-based Cipro and Levaquin, regularly prescribed for kidney, bladder and sinus infections with crippling results.
Antibiotics disrupt the balance of bacterial flora in our microbiome, adversely affect our immune system, and lead to cyclic infections or worse.
“Usnea healed my Covid pneumonia last month! My oxygen dipped to 84% but I refused to go to the hospital and be put on a ventilator. It pinged in my brain (thanks, Holy Spirit!) that Usnea was good for the respiratory system and I did some duck duck going about Usnea and pneumonia, started taking it that day and was back to normal less than 3 days later. For every ailment, God has given us a plant that cures it!” ~ M.M., a DRAH reader
Properties of Usnea
Usnea is a lichen, comprised of both Fungus and Algae that grow together on host trees (pines, oaks, and fruits trees) all over the world. You’ll see it hanging in long strands from conifers if you hike in the Pacific Northwest — and you might even be able to find it right in your own backyard. After storms, you frequently see usnea on fallen twigs or branches and can gather from there.
It’s out there if you look for it! If not, there are resources to purchase it below.
Usnea species can easily be identified by gently pulling a strand of the lichen apart. If it’s usnea, the green outside algae layer will break, exposing an unmistakable solid white fungal core inside. The fungal core provides strength, while the outer green algae gathers energy from the sun.
It’s ultra-sensitive to pollution, so it’s rarely found within larger city limits.
An antiseptic herb with excellent healing properties used for hundreds of years, it has a special affinity for:
- lung infections
- the urinary tract (kidney and bladder)
- chlamydia (1)(2)
- strep throat
- gram-negative H. pylori bacteria (source)
- multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa (source)
If you are collecting hardcopy books for preparedness in a crisis, I recommend you add “Herbal Antibiotics, 2nd Edition: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-resistant Bacteria” by Stephen Buhner.
Please, before you automatically take ANY antibiotic for a bladder or sinus infection, especially those in the deadly fluoroqinolone family like Cipro or Levaquin, consider other alternatives:
Resources: Alternative Antibiotic For Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Back in the 70s, a fellow antibiotic-resistant nurse told me about synergistic usnea/uva ursi tincture and Herb Pharm Usnea, which worked consistently for me. Taken early and repeatedly, a couple dropperfuls of tincture or a couple Nature’s Way Uva Ursi capsules always stopped a UTI by 24-36-48 hours depending on how bad it was. There’s also an alcohol-free glycerite blend with usnea and uva ursi.
Usnea and uva ursi herb, should be avoided in pregnancy because of few studies.
For bladder infections in pregnancy, you can safely use popular D-mannose.
Considerations in Pregnancy and Use of D-Mannose:
Studies show UTIs in women of reproductive age can significantly complicate the course of pregnancy.
“Antibiotic therapy during pregnancy is an extreme measure since it is associated with a high risk of fetal malformations. The use of D-mannose is an effective and safe treatment for UTIs, especially during pregnancy.” ~Obstetrics, Gynecological and Reproductive study
D-mannose, a simple sugar, hinders bacterial adhesion to the bladder wall. D-mannose spills into the urine through our kidneys, literally “coating” any E.coli present so it can no longer “stick” to the inside walls of the bladder and urinary tract.
The E. coli are literally rinsed away upon urination!
- Break the cycle of recurrent bladder infections by drinking a lot of water, urinating frequently, wiping from front to back, wearing cotton underwear, urinating after sex, as well as with probiotics, cranberry, D-mannose, and usnea.
- For SINUS infections, nebulize no-side-effect silver or hydrogen proxide.
Making Antibiotic Usnea Tea or Tincture
Making usnea tea at home:
- Combine a small handful of fresh or dried usnea strands in 1 pint of very hot water.
- Allow the brew to simmer for about 30 minutes in a covered container.
- Once cooled enough to drink, consume about ¼ cup at a time, several times divided throughout the day.
Make your own Usnea Tincture:
A basic recipe for making herbal tinctures is to mix alcohol that is at least 40%—60%, fill a jar 1/2 full of herbs, cover it with alcohol, and let it sit for two to six weeks.
Finally, strain the herbs and store your tincture.
DOSING: A tincture of usnea can be taken three times a day for treating a kidney or bladder infection. The dosage is two droppers in eight ounces of water three times a day. (source)
This usnea spray can also be applied topically to the skin or gargled and then swallowed for strep throat. Consult an herbalist if you have any questions.
SAFETY: When you need to use it, you start with a low dose and you work your way up until you get the results you’re looking for. Do not use usnea lichen continuously in large doses as it is a highly concentrated medicine. Only take as needed for specific problems.
“My child, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.” ~Proverbs 4: 20-22
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