USNEA Overview Information
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.
How does it work?
Usnea contains ingredients that are thought to fight germs that might cause infections. It also might decrease inflammation, pain, and fever.
- Weight loss.
- Mild swelling (inflammation) of the mouth and throat.
- Other conditions.
USNEA Side Effects & Safety
Usnea is POSSIBLY SAFE when used on the skin, though allergic reactions can occur.
The safety of taking usnea by mouth is unknown, though there are concerns that the sodium usniate (usnic acid) that it contains might cause liver damage. The concern stems from the fact that sodium usniate is also an ingredient of the brand named product LipoKinetix, which is marketed for weight loss. From July to December 2000 there were at least seven cases of liver damage in patients taking LipoKinetix. Symptoms including nausea, weakness and fatigue, abdominal pain, and yellowing of the skin usually develop from 2 weeks to 3 months after starting LipoKinetix. Symptoms disappear when it is discontinued. It is unclear if the sodium usniate ingredient is the cause of these harmful effects. Nevertheless, it’s best to avoid using LipoKinetix, and get the advice of a healthcare provider before taking usnea by mouth.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of usnea during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
The appropriate dose of usnea depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for usnea. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.