We will be closed on Sunday, March 31, in observance of Easter.

(276) 628-3170

Customer Support

238 W. Main Street

Abingdon, VA 24210

M-SA: 8am-8pm

SU: 9am-6pm

Usnea—Nature’s Antibiotic and a Wonder of the Wood

One of the many advantages of our new and expanded location within the Abingdon Commons is the chance to host regular workshops and classes for our community. 

Recently we hosted an herbal remedy workshop led by Cassidy Case, a master herbalist and certified holistic healthcare practitioner based here in Abingdon, VA, who’s also been a wonderful recent addition to the Blue Hills staff. 

This particular workshop focused on usnea, which is actually a variety of forest lichen and an algae sharing a symbiotic relationship and not necessarily an herb by the standard definition. Usnea, especially here in Appalachia, has been used for decades as an accomplished natural antibiotic when crafted into teas, tinctures, and supplements. 

 “Usnea’s one of the most potent antiviral, antimicrobial, and antibacterial herbs,” Case said. “It’s great for warding off colds, strep throat, and has even been shown to lessen the symptoms of some autoimmune conditions. All of that makes it even better to use in the winter, too!”

For those looking to further heighten the benefits of an already powerful natural health aid, usnea can be paired synergistically with some pharmaceutical supplements to target specific areas of the body. For example, Case recommends pairing usnea with the drug chlorithromycin for a targeted boost against lung infections. 

Usnea’s popularity and medicinal benefit extends almost as far as its natural range, which includes most of the United States as well as areas of Western Europe and Japan. As such, folklore about usnea abounds. Here in the U.S., some might know of usnea as “old man’s beard” because of its characteristic bushy gray-green look as it drags down from tree branches and clings to mossy logs deep in the woods. But even the span of the country’s history doesn’t compare to the history of usnea and those that have found it beneficial throughout the centuries.

“A good portion of the Dakota Indigenous Peoples treated usnea as the sacred herb of the North and would use it in treating various lung conditions,” Case pointed out. “In fact, certain tribes of the Dakota nations referred to usnea as the ‘lungs of the forest’ because it works so well to aid in decongestion and clear breathing.”

For those looking for their own usnea or usnea tinctures, chat with us in the store! If we don’t have it in stock with the other herbal tinctures in our Supplements Department at the moment, we can happily and easily order it in about a week and a half.

In the future, look for workshops like these to occur with greater frequency as we strive to provide for our community here in our new space—all centered on knowledgeable, in-depth information on how we can make these old blue hills a blue zone, and an even better place to be than they already are.