Herbs & Plants

Ligusticum porteri

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Botanical Name : Ligusticum porteri
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Ligusticum
Species: L. porteri
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Apiales

Common Names: Osha, Osha root, Porter’s lovage, Porter’s licorice-root, lovage, wild lovage, Porter’s wild lovage, loveroot, Porter’s ligusticum, bear medicine, bear root, Colorado cough root, Indian root, Indian parsley, wild parsley, mountain ginseng, mountain carrot, nipo, empress of the dark forest, chuchupate, chuchupati, chuchupaste, chuchupatle, guariaca, hierba del cochino or yerba de cochino, raíz del cochino, washía (tarahumara).

Habitat : Osha is strictly a mountain plant, and it is most commonly found in deep, moist soils rich in organic material. The plant requires partial shade. Osha is widely distributed from British Columbia south into Oregon and Washington State, and throughout the Rocky Mountains and the high mountains of New Mexico. It is most common in the upper limits of the subalpine zone, so in the southern part of its range, it grows at elevations from 7,000 feet to 10,000 feet (2100 m to 3000 m), while from Utah, Wyoming, and Montana northwards, it grows as low as 5,000 feet (1500 m).

Osha is dependent on mycorrhizal fungi, and attempts to artificially cultivate the plant outside of its habitat have not been successful. Cultivation of osha in areas where it naturally grows have been more successful

Osha has the typical appearance of members of the parsley family, with parsley-like leaves and umbels of white flowers. The bases of the leaves where they attach to the root crowns have a reddish tint which is unique, and the roots are fibrous, with a dark, chocolate-brown, wrinkled outer skin. When this skin is removed, the inner root tissue is fibrous and yellowish-white with an overpowering, pleasant “spicy celery” fragrance that resembles lovage (Levisticumofficinale).


Osha roots have a collar of dead leaf material surrounding the root crowns which is hairlike in appearance. The roots dry very quickly and are very astringent when fresh, and can cause blistering of the mouth and mucous membranes in humans if ingested fresh. The dried roots do not have this astringent affect. Roots of older plants are far stronger and bitter than those of younger plants.[citation needed]

Osha plants form large clumps over time, and can grow to be very large. In areas of New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah, osha can reach heights of 6 to 7 feet and produce circular colonies with dozens of root crowns growing from a central root mass. Osha is best harvested in the afternoon as the plants are relished by bears, which are known to visit the plants during the morning.

Uses and toxicity:
Osha root or Ligusticum wallichii (Ligusticum) root can be steeped in ethanol (whisky, vodka, etc.) for at least a month. The resulting tincture is an effective, albeit pungent, liniment for sore muscles that can be stored (in a cool place) indefinitely.

Osha root can “treat almost everything.”

Osha has been clinically verifiedTemplate:By who or what to possess anti-viral properties (what and is very effective for treating cold and flu systems of the upper respiratory tract, and other viral infections of the respiratory system.[citation needed] The plant is also a powerful stimulant if consumed to excess. Osha root is typically chewed, then spit out after the medicinal components have been extracted by the chewing action. Osha root is also used internally in small amounts to treat fever, stomach ache, and heartburn. Osha root can be made into a poultice to treat brown recluse spider bites.

Osha has been sensationalized as an herbal remedy to the extent that the plants are seriously threatened in many areas due to overharvesting. Since osha defies cultivation outside of its habitat, commercial osha root is almost entirely harvested from wild stands of the plant.

Osha is commonly used by the Apaches and other native tribes. According to White Mountain Apache elders, they would use it as a snake and insect repellent: It has a strong smell. Apaches use this herb to aid in the curing of common colds, sore throats, cough, sinusitis, and other side effects of the winter season.

Medicinal Uses:
American Indians used this herb to treat all manner of respiratory ailments: pneumonia, influenza, colds, bronchitis, tuberculosis, hay fever and asthma.  Oshas are emmenagogues.  Not recommended for pregnant women.  It is used to treat colds, flu, fevers, cough, cold phlegm diseases, indigestion, gas, delayed menses and rheumatic complaints.  This is one of the most important herbs of the Rocky Mountains, considered sacred by the Native Americans and widely esteemed by them for its broad and effective warm healing power.  Many tribes burned it as incense for purification, to ward off gross pathogenic factors and subtle negative influences.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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