Substances & Homeopatic Remedies

Usnea barbata

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Contains usnic acid, which gives the lichen its yellow color. Usnic acid is an effective antibiotic against certain bacteria ( primarily gram positive ). Species of Usnea are used in Chinese medicine, contemporary homeopathic medicine, and traditional medicine in the Pacific Islands, New Zealand, and every continent except Australia. Thousands of kilograms are collected and imported each year by pharmaceutical companies, especially in central Europe, for extracting usnic acid, the yellow pigment of the common Usneas. The extracts are used in ointments for superficial skin infections and are incorporated into cosmetics such as deodorants for the control of bacteria. On the other hand, because usnic acid can cause serious allergic reactions in many people, its use in medicine has not been entirely without risk. For instance, woodcutters in Canada have long been susceptible to a skin rash from usnic acid. Dust  from the lichen's soredia on clothing has even caused serious allergic rashes in wives of woodcutters not directly exposed.

Contributions to the complex study of some lichens-Usnea genus. Pharmacological studies on Usnea barbata and Usnea hirta species.

Dobrescu D, Tanasescu M, Mezdrea A, Ivan C, Ordosch E, Neagoe F, Rizeanu A, Trifu L, Enescu V.

Institute for the State Control of Drug and Pharmaceutical Researches, Bucuresti.

The pharmacological researches have been performed for Usnea barbata and Usnea hirta species using hydroalcoholic extracts. The acute toxicity has been determined and the following LD50 have been obtained: i. p. Usnea barbata 22.53g vegetal material/kg b. w.; Usnea hirta 21.02g vegetal material/kg b. w.; i. v. Usnea barbata 7.43 vegetal material/kg b. w.; Usnea hirta 4.52g vegetal material/kg b. w.; per os up to 32g vegetal material/kg b. w. no mortality has been recorded. It has been demonstrated that the antiinflammatory activity was comparable, sometimes superior to the phenylbutazone and hydrocortisone hemisuccinate; the analgesic activity was close to the noraminophenazone; the antipyretic activity was equal, sometimes superior to the aminophenazone. In Romania, Usnea barbata was mentioned in 1929 among the plants known by Romanian people with popular names: "Bear's beard", "Trees' dandruff", "Woman's long hair" (1). "Farmacia naturii" (2) and "Flora medicinala a Romaniei" (3) have mentioned that Usnea barbata (L) Mott contains usnic acid-substance with broad antibiotic spectrum. Lichens have made the subject of the multiple studies because of their old medical use (4). Besides the antibiotic properties noticed at lichens products (4) there have been discovered the following pharmacological actions: antiinflammatory (5), antitumoural, immunostimulatory (6, 7, 8, 9). The results of the researches made on lichens family within Romania's spontaneous flora (10) have determined us to study the two species: Usnea barbata (L) Mott and Usnea hirta (L) Wigg.