USNEA

OTHER NAME(S):

Acide Usnique, Barba de Capuchino, Barbe de Jupiter, Barbe de Saint Antoine, Beard Moss, Mousse d'Arbre, Musgo de los Arboles, Old Man's Beard, Sodium Usniate, Tree Moss, Tree's Dandruff, Usnea barbata, Usnea filipendula, Usnea florida, Usnea ghattensis, Usnea hirta, Usnea Lichen, Usnea longissimi, Usnea plicata, Usnea scabrata, Usnée, Usnée Barbue, Usnée Fleurie, Usniate de Sodium, Usnic Acid, Woman's Long Hair.<br/><br/>

Overview

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. The plant body of usnea is used to make medicine.

Usnea is used for weight loss, pain, fever, and wound healing, and to make phlegm easier to cough up.

Usnea is also used directly on the skin for sore throat and for athlete's foot. A product containing zinc sulfate and usnic acid, a compound found in usnea, is used to improve healing after treatment for a sexually transmitted infection that can lead to genital warts or cancer (human papillomavirus or HPV).

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.

Uses

Uses & Effectiveness?

Insufficient Evidence for

  • A sexually transmitted infection that can lead to genital warts or cancer (human papillomavirus or HPV). Early research has looked at the effects of applying a specific product (Zeta N) containing zinc sulfate and usnic acid (a chemical found in usnea) to the vagina before and after surgical removal of HPV sores. Applying this product seems to improve healing and reduce the rate of HPV infection for up to 6 months after surgery.
  • Fever.
  • Mild swelling (inflammation) of the mouth and throat.
  • Pain.
  • Weight loss.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of usnea for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

When taken by mouth: Usnea is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth. A compound in usnea called sodium usniate or usnic acid might cause liver damage. Sodium usniate is an ingredient of the brand named product LipoKinetix, which is marketed for weight loss. There were numerous cases of liver damage in people 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. Additionally, there has been at least one case of liver failure from taking pure usnic acid by mouth. Avoid taking usnea, LipoKinetix, or any other supplements containing usnea by mouth.

When applied to the skin: Usnea is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin. Some people might have an allergic reaction to usnea.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if usnea is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Liver disease: Usnea contains some chemicals that might harm the liver. If you have liver disease, don't take usnea by mouth.

Interactions

Interactions?

We currently have no information for USNEA Interactions.

Dosing

Dosing

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.

View References

REFERENCES:

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  • Behera, B. C., Verma, N., Sonone, A., and Makhija, U. Antioxidant and antibacterial activities of lichen Usnea ghattensis in vitro. Biotechnol Lett 2005;27(14):991-995. View abstract.
  • Bezivin, C., Tomasi, S., Rouaud, I., Delcros, J. G., and Boustie, J. Cytotoxic activity of compounds from the lichen: Cladonia convoluta. Planta Med 2004;70(9):874-877. View abstract.
  • Campanella, L., Delfini, M., Ercole, P., Iacoangeli, A., and Risuleo, G. Molecular characterization and action of usnic acid: a drug that inhibits proliferation of mouse polyomavirus in vitro and whose main target is RNA transcription. Biochimie 2002;84(4):329-334. View abstract.
  • Choudhary, M. I., Azizuddin, Jalil, S., and Atta, ur Rahman. Bioactive phenolic compounds from a medicinal lichen, Usnea longissima. Phytochemistry 2005;66(19):2346-2350. View abstract.
  • De Carvalho, E. A., Andrade, P. P., Silva, N. H., Pereira, E. C., and Figueiredo, R. C. Effect of usnic acid from the lichen Cladonia substellata on Trypanosoma cruzi in vitro: an ultrastructural study. Micron. 2005;36(2):155-161. View abstract.
  • Dobrescu D, Tanasescu M, Mezdrea A, et al. Contributions to the complex study of some lichens-Usnea genus. Pharmacological studies on Usnea barbata and Usnea hirta species. Rom J Physiol 1993;30:101-7. View abstract.
  • Durazo, F. A., Lassman, C., Han, S. H., Saab, S., Lee, N. P., Kawano, M., Saggi, B., Gordon, S., Farmer, D. G., Yersiz, H., Goldstein, R. L., Ghobrial, M., and Busuttil, R. W. Fulminant liver failure due to usnic acid for weight loss. Am.J Gastroenterol. 2004;99(5):950-952. View abstract.
  • Favreau JT, Ryu Ml, Braunstein G, et al. Severe hepatotoxicity associated with the dietary supplement LipoKinetix. Ann Intern Med 2002;136:590-5.
  • Fournet, A., Ferreira, M. E., Rojas, de Arias, Torres, de Ortiz, Inchausti, A., Yaluff, G., Quilhot, W., Fernandez, E., and Hidalgo, M. E. Activity of compounds isolated from Chilean lichens against experimental cutaneous leishmaniasis. Comp Biochem Physiol C.Pharmacol Toxicol Endocrinol. 1997;116(1):51-54. View abstract.
  • Garcia, Rowe J., Garcia, Gimenez, and Saenz Rodriguez, M. T. Some lichen products have antimicrobial activity. Z Naturforsch.[C.] 1999;54(7-8):605-609. View abstract.
  • Ghione, M., Parrello, D., and Grasso, L. Usnic acid revisited, its activity on oral flora. Chemioterapia. 1988;7(5):302-305. View abstract.
  • Guo L, Shi Q, Fang JL, et al. Review of usnic acid and Usnea barbata toxicity. J Environ Sci Health C Environ Carcinog Ecotoxicol Rev. 2008;26(4):317-38. View abstract.
  • Halici, M., Odabasoglu, F., Suleyman, H., Cakir, A., Aslan, A., and Bayir, Y. Effects of water extract of Usnea longissima on antioxidant enzyme activity and mucosal damage caused by indomethacin in rats. Phytomedicine 2005;12(9):656-662. View abstract.
  • Han, D., Matsumaru, K., Rettori, D., and Kaplowitz, N. Usnic acid-induced necrosis of cultured mouse hepatocytes: inhibition of mitochondrial function and oxidative stress. Biochem.Pharmacol. 2-1-2004;67(3):439-451. View abstract.
  • Hassal, C. H. The antibacterial activity of usnic acid and related compounds. Experientia 12-15-1950;6(12):462-464. View abstract.
  • Hsu, L. M., Huang, Y. S., Chang, F. Y., and Lee, S. D. 'Fat burner' herb, usnic Acid, induced acute hepatitis in a family. J Gastroenterol.Hepatol. 2005;20(7):1138-1139. View abstract.
  • Ingolfsdottir K. Usnic acid. Phytochemistry 2002;61:729-36. View abstract.
  • Johnson, R. B., Feldott, G., and Lardy, H. A. The mode of action of the antibiotic, usnic acid. Arch Biochem. 1950;28(3):317-323. View abstract.
  • Kristmundsdottir, T., Jonsdottir, E., Ogmundsdottir, H. M., and Ingolfsdottir, K. Solubilization of poorly soluble lichen metabolites for biological testing on cell lines. Eur J Pharm Sci 2005;24(5):539-543. View abstract.
  • Lauterwein M, Oethinger M, Belsner K, et al. In vitro activities of the lichen secondary metabolites vulpinic acid, (+)-usnic acid, and (-)-usnic acid against aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 1995;39:2541-3. View abstract.
  • Mayer, M., O'Neill, M. A., Murray, K. E., Santos-Magalhaes, N. S., Carneiro-Leao, A. M., Thompson, A. M., and Appleyard, V. C. Usnic acid: a non-genotoxic compound with anti-cancer properties. Anticancer Drugs 2005;16(8):805-809. View abstract.
  • Mitchell, J. C. Allergy to lichens. Allergic contact dermatitis from usnic acid produced by lichenized fungi. Arch Dermatol 1965;92(2):142-146. View abstract.
  • Neff, G. W., Reddy, K. R., Durazo, F. A., Meyer, D., Marrero, R., and Kaplowitz, N. Severe hepatotoxicity associated with the use of weight loss diet supplements containing ma huang or usnic acid. J Hepatol. 2004;41(6):1062-1064. View abstract.
  • Odabasoglu, F., Aslan, A., Cakir, A., Suleyman, H., Karagoz, Y., Halici, M., and Bayir, Y. Comparison of antioxidant activity and phenolic content of three lichen species. Phytother Res 2004;18(11):938-941. View abstract.
  • Odabasoglu, F., Cakir, A., Suleyman, H., Aslan, A., Bayir, Y., Halici, M., and Kazaz, C. Gastroprotective and antioxidant effects of usnic acid on indomethacin-induced gastric ulcer in rats. J Ethnopharmacol 1-3-2006;103(1):59-65. View abstract.
  • Okuyama, E., Umeyama, K., Yamazaki, M., Kinoshita, Y., and Yamamoto, Y. Usnic acid and diffractaic acid as analgesic and antipyretic components of Usnea diffracta. Planta Med 1995;61(2):113-115. View abstract.
  • Periera, E. C., Nascimento, S. C., Lima, R. C., Silva, N. H., Oliveira, A. F., Bandeira, E., Boitard, M., Beriel, H., Vicente, C., and Legaz, M. E. Analysis of Usnea fasciata crude extracts with antineoplastic activity. Tokai J Exp.Clin.Med 1994;19(1-2):47-52. View abstract.
  • Piorkowski, G. [Usnic acid as an oral antivirotic.]. Ther.Ggw. 1957;96(8):286-287. View abstract.
  • Pramyothin, P., Janthasoot, W., Pongnimitprasert, N., Phrukudom, S., and Ruangrungsi, N. Hepatotoxic effect of (+)usnic acid from Usnea siamensis Wainio in rats, isolated rat hepatocytes and isolated rat liver mitochondria. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004;90(2-3):381-387. View abstract.
  • Rafanelli, S., Bacchilega, R., Stanganelli, I., and Rafanelli, A. Contact dermatitis from usnic acid in vaginal ovules. Contact Dermatitis 1995;33(4):271-272. View abstract.
  • Ribeiro-Costa, R. M., Alves, A. J., Santos, N. P., Nascimento, S. C., Goncalves, E. C., Silva, N. H., Honda, N. K., and Santos-Magalhaes, N. S. In vitro and in vivo properties of usnic acid encapsulated into PLGA-microspheres. J Microencapsul. 2004;21(4):371-384. View abstract.
  • Saenz, M. T., Garcia, M. D., and Rowe, J. G. Antimicrobial activity and phytochemical studies of some lichens from south of Spain. Fitoterapia 2006;77(3):156-159. View abstract.
  • Sanchez, W., Maple, J. T., Burgart, L. J., and Kamath, P. S. Severe hepatotoxicity associated with use of a dietary supplement containing usnic acid. Mayo Clin Proc 2006;81(4):541-544. View abstract.
  • Scirpa, P., Scambia, G., Masciullo, V., Battaglia, F., Foti, E., Lopez, R., Villa, P., Malecore, M., and Mancuso, S. [A zinc sulfate and usnic acid preparation used as post-surgical adjuvant therapy in genital lesions by Human Papillomavirus]. Minerva Ginecol. 1999;51(6):255-260. View abstract.
  • Shibamoto, T. and Wei, C. I. Mutagenicity of lichen constituents. Environ Mutagen. 1984;6(5):757-762. View abstract.
  • Wang, X. P., Liu, H. J., Zhen, L., Zhou, Z. T., Li, M. Y., and Zhang, W. D. [Plasmid elimination effect of usnic acid on antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus]. Zhong.Yao Cai. 2006;29(1):36-39. View abstract.
  • Wu, J., Zhang, M., Ding, D., Tan, T., and Yan, B. [Effect of Cladonia alpestris on Trichomonas vaginalis in vitro]. Zhongguo Ji.Sheng Chong.Xue.Yu Ji.Sheng Chong.Bing.Za Zhi. 1995;13(2):126-129. View abstract.
  • Yamamoto, Y., MIURA, Y., Kinoshita, Y., Higuchi, M., Yamada, Y., Murakami, A., Ohigashi, H., and Koshimizu, K. Screening of tissue cultures and thalli of lichens and some of their active constituents for inhibition of tumor promoter-induced Epstein-Barr virus activation. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) 1995;43(8):1388-1390. View abstract.
  • Yilmaz, M., Turk, A. O., Tay, T., and Kivanc, M. The antimicrobial activity of extracts of the lichen Cladonia foliacea and its (-)-usnic acid, atranorin, and fumarprotocetraric acid constituents. Z.Naturforsch.[C.] 2004;59(3-4):249-254. View abstract.

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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

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