Just Like Doxycycline: The Antibiotic That Grows in Your Backyard

Sarah Davis
By Sarah Davis October 6, 2017 07:14

Just Like Doxycycline: The Antibiotic That Grows in Your Backyard

There has been plenty of concern in recent years with the overuse of antibiotics, and the risks that overusing them can bring, even to a normally healthy person. While prescription antibiotics certainly have their place and benefit, overusing them, or using them inappropriately, can contribute in creating a resistance to the medication that was developed to heal. Another concern is all the uncomfortable and serious side effects that can come with taking antibiotics, such as nausea, rashes, sensitivity to the sun, and potentially fatal c. diff colitis.

It’s no surprise then, that more and more people are turning to natural remedies and antibiotics, such as usnea. You might be wondering if natural and homegrown antibiotics could cause side effects or be harmful to certain people? Sure, just like prescription antibiotics, there can be side effects. However, unlike more commonly known prescription antibiotics, usnea can be completely natural without unhealthy chemicals…and you might even be able to find it right in your own backyard. You may also want to check if these extremely powerful natural antibiotics that are little known to mankind grow around your house.

What is Usnea?

Usnea is a fairly common and intriguing lichen found in many forests and woods across the world. A lichen is defined by Merriam-Webster as: “any numerous complex plantlike organisms made up of an alga or a cyanobacterium and a fungus growing in symbiotic association on a solid surface (such as on a rock or the bark of trees).” The usnea lichen, which has a body with a netted hair-like texture, is developed through a mutual relationship between fungus and algae.usnea lichen

While there are several types of species of the usnea lichen, the one with the highest degree of medicinal value is often referred to as “Old Man’s Beard”, due to its appearance. Often found on trees, it can easily be identified by lightly pulling the main branch of the lichen apart. If it’s usnea, the green outside layer will break, exposing a stretchy white band substance found inside, which should remain intact. However, due to this species being ultra-sensitive to polluted air, it’s rarely found within city limits.

Possible Medicinal Value and Uses of Usnea

Usnea has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times by Egyptian, Greek, and Chinese healers. This is not a new plant, nor a recent or temporary fad. It has been around for a very long time for use in healing people with certain ailments. The outer portion of the lichen, referred to as the cortex, holds the antibiotic composites, and the inner part (the thallus) contains a substance that stimulates the immune system.

Common ailments and conditions that are thought to benefit from the application of usnea, include the following:

  • Fever
  • Inflammation
  • Weight loss
  • Yeast infections

Some people with HPV (human papilloma virus) have also found some benefit in using a form of usnea. It’s suggested that a person apply a product containing usnic acid (found in usnea) and zinc sulfate to the vaginal area prior to and after the surgical removal of HPV lesions. By doing so, it could help speed up the healing process and diminish the chances of recurrence of the infection.

Although it’s been used globally since ancient days, for various purposes, usnea has eluded various herbal traditions that solely focused on vascular plants. However, the usnic acid is found to interrupt the cellular system of Gram-positive bacteria, such as Staphylococcus and Streptococcus, while leaving the necessary natural microbiota intact.

It is a particularly formidable medicinal tool for inflammation and dampness often associated with respiratory and urinary tract infections. Applied topically, usnea can also be effective in fighting against MRSA, and fungal infections such as candida.

Used as a wound dressing, usnea could be a wonderful remedy for infected wounds, such as cellulitis. The drying and cooling attributes of usnea help to reduce heat and redness stemming from the infection. Due to the natural anti-microbial properties found in the lichen, it is often applied directly to an open wound to fight off infection. It can either be mixed with water to form a mixture to be applied, or used as a powder after it’s been dried.

A spray could also be used to apply on areas where fungus might be lingering, such as the feet, either between the toes on in the nails.

Finding and Developing Usnea as an Antibiotic

Usnea can be applied either externally, or internally. It can be developed into various forms, such as the following:

  • cough lozenges
  • a tincture or extractusnea jar tincture
  • mouthwash to gargle with, by mixing water with a usnea tincture
  • a salve for wound dressing, to apply externally

Some of the above forms can be found in a health store. But, you can also make your own. And, a walk through the woods might be all you need to find the main ingredient. When looking for usnea lichen to make your own remedies, you can often find it in the woods, either on trees, or the ground after falling from the trees. Look for hair-like growths, similar to an overgrown beard. If you find it, place it on cotton or paper until you can get it home. From there, you will have diverse options in developing a viable antibiotic and treatment to use for the ailments and conditions mentioned earlier.

Usnic acid isn’t soluble in water. So, it’s best to extract it in alcohol, oil, or heat. Depending on which form you are seeking to create, or use, the extraction method can differ. For example, when making a tincture or extract, place the usnea into a jar, then cover it with vodka. Let this mix sit for several months, then strain it into a dropper bottle.

Consulting an herbalist would be beneficial if you have any doubt or questions on how to make the proper form, how to apply it, or where to find it.

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Sarah Davis
By Sarah Davis October 6, 2017 07:14
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  1. Patriots Pixie October 6, 15:33

    Thanks for this article. This antibiotic is very useful for animals and is essential for the farm. Also, a couple drops of this extract in tea for humans can ward off all illnesses in the winter, taken at the first sign of a scratchy throat.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Wayne Buck October 6, 17:02

    Helpful Info

    Reply to this comment
  3. Dave October 6, 17:31

    send me my free silver coin as promised or is this just another one of our internet scams ?

    Reply to this comment
  4. usafvietnam October 17, 23:57

    Is Usnea the same as Spanish Moss that hang from many of the Oak Trees here in Florida?

    Reply to this comment
    • Becky October 21, 08:56

      No, looking up spanish moss it’s binomial name is Tillandsia usneoides. Usnea main genus is usnea with several species such as calfornica, eratina, longissima which would make the binomial name Usnea longissima for example. They come from different families and genera. The Spanish moss local to you may have useful qualities, with a little research into local foraging books, a local herb shop, or if you can find a local herbalist, they may be able to tell you if it’s useful for anything.

      Reply to this comment
      • usafvietnam October 22, 02:18

        Thank you for your reply. Your info was useful and I did look up Tillandsia usneoides and found useful information. Thanks

        Reply to this comment
      • Debo August 2, 13:33

        When gathering Spanish moss, be careful! They usually harbour chiggers! The only thing I’ve ever heard it used for is stuffing for bedding, ( after removing chiggers). It doesn’t mean it has no other use, just I’ve not heard of one.

        Reply to this comment
    • hawkce541 January 23, 17:55

      no. Spanish moss is completely different

      Reply to this comment
  5. Clergylady October 19, 16:05

    Here in the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona all lichens on rocks were used a a poltice on wounds. It is said to be quite effective. Bind directly on on the wound with a cloth and change the dressing in 24 hours. This was done on both old and fresh wounds to promote healing if infected and to avoid infection in the first place. If a wound was infected it was scraped to remove any puss and rotted flesh, then a wash of steeped lichen water wash used and if severe a poltice was used.
    Sometimes a wash of steeped oak leaves and bark was also used to cleans a wound. Oaks are not so common in deserts and lichens were more commonly found.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Cheis October 22, 01:44

    I know what milkweed looks like however I have never seen it with yellow flowers. Is this a different plant? I know milkweed has pods which I have read are edible. so is this the same plant?

    Reply to this comment
  7. Brian November 29, 07:55

    How much of this plant do I need to make a pint jar of tincture

    Reply to this comment
  8. Harvey Wallbanger August 14, 18:21

    Just like Doxy . . .? Usnea may have topical efficacy as an anti fungal, and selective efficacy on bacteria, but to say it is just like Doxycycline, which has efficacy on bubonic plague and smallpox may be irresponsible. Are you also suggesting ingesting Usnea, as opposed to being a topical treatment? Watch out! Safety and efficacy.

    Reply to this comment
    • CJ September 15, 12:08

      All of my reading on using Usnea has been for internal use, and is considered safe. But it is not common everywhere, nor is it easy to extract the medicinal prperties. Anyone interested can easily look up articles written by herbalist on using this valuable lichen. Herbalist Christopher Hobbs and Robert Rogers have written books on using lichens and fungi medicinally. Rogers book also includes identifying them.

      Reply to this comment
    • Bixx January 20, 22:17

      Doxycycline is very effective on Plague though has no benefit on Small Pox.

      Reply to this comment
  9. Barb March 28, 12:31

    Is this plant what floridians call airplanes that grow in the trees?

    Reply to this comment
  10. Barb March 28, 12:34

    My last question should have been the airplants that grow in trees in Florida not airplanes

    Reply to this comment
  11. Esther April 4, 16:20

    I would never compare an herb to a pharmaceutical. Just my thoughts. I feel like that’s misleading.

    Reply to this comment
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