Osha Root: A Medicinal Herb for the Lungs

What is Osha Root?

Osha (Ligusticum porteri), also referred to as Bear Root, Chuchupate, Colorado Cough Root, Indian Parsley, Wild Celery Root, and Mountain Lovage, is a perennial herb and a member of the carrot or parsley family (Apiaceae/Umbelliferae). 

 

Osha is a mountain plant, and can be found in deep, moist soils rich in organic matter at elevations between 9,000 –10,000 ft. in New Mexico and other Rocky Mountain regions of the Southwest. Osha plants form large clumps, and in areas of New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah, can reach heights of 6 to 7 feet. They produce circular colonies with dozens of root crowns growing from a central root mass.

 

Osha is extremely threatened in many areas due to over harvesting. Since osha defies cultivation outside of its unique habitat, commercial osha root is almost entirely harvested from wild stands of the plant. Our Zuma Nutrition osha is ethically wild crafted to protect the plant population of this very important and sacred root. We use this medicinal plant in our Lung Detox tonic, as it offers unique benefits for the lungs and respiratory system.

 

What is Osha Root Used for?

Historically, the root has been used as medicine by Native American and Hispanic cultures. Today, osha is used for sore throat, bronchitis, cough, common cold, influenza, swine flu, and pneumonia. It is also used to treat other viral infections including herpes and AIDS/HIV. Some people use it for indigestion, and some people apply osha directly to the skin to keep wounds from getting infected.

 

What are the Health Benefits of Osha Root?

Native Americans of North America often observed that bears would look for osha and consume the plant roots directly after emerging from winter hibernation or when wounded or sick. Osha is a Native American word for bear and is referred to as "Bear Medicine," since the plants are eaten by bears for what appear to be medicinal purposes.

 

One of the health benefits of osha root is that it also contains a number of volatile oils including camphor. It supports a healthy immune system and associated mucous membranes, and has a particular affinity for the respiratory system. A powerful antiviral and antibacterial agent, osha root tincture should be one of the staples in the herbal medicine cabinet for respiratory infections.

 

Osha Root is Used for Respiratory Ailments

 

Osha root can help alleviate various breathing concerns in a number of capacities. Osha root helps clear mucus from the sinuses and lungs by increasing expectoration—this relieves congestion and makes breathing easier.

 

Osha root also increases blood circulation to the lungs, which increases dilation during constriction. For this reason, it is of particular interest as a support mechanism for emphysema, pneumonia, asthma, and allergies. The bronchodilating effect is compounded by osha root's ability to help the efficacy of the lungs by increasing oxygen utilization and uptake in the body. It is believed the increased blood oxygenation is facilitated by an increase in gas exchange through the alveoli in the lungs. In simpler terms, osha root helps one to take deeper breaths.

 

Osha Root is Used for Cold and Flu Symptoms

 

Osha root is commonly used as a therapy for cold and flu symptoms. The root has demonstrated activity against harmful organisms and, when taken at the onset of cold, may help reduce the window of time in which symptoms of a cold are experienced. Although osha root doesn't have a direct antihistamine action, its effect is similar, and using osha root during a histamine flare up can lessen indications of head colds and respiratory ailments. One of the most notable benefits of osha root is its numbing effect, used to help soothe the irritated tissue of a sore throat. It has been an ingredient in cough drops and lozenges and can even be made into a cough syrup that is more effective than echinacea and goldenseal, two other common herbal cough remedies.

 

Osha Root has Anti-Inflammatory Properties and May Help Reduce Oxidative Stress

 

Oxidative stress is caused by an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants and can result in illness and disease. In a 2016 study, researchers extracted human peripheral lymphocytes (a form of a white blood cell) and incubated them with different concentrations of osha root extract. They measured the protective effect of osha against oxidative damage by inducing oxidative stress.

 

They found that at the highest doses, 400 micrograms per meter (μg/m), osha might be a potential immune-modulating agent, perhaps providing protective effects against oxidative damage.

 

The following year, the researchers tested osha root extract on human promyelocytic leukemia cells to see its effects on oxidative stress and inflammation. They incubated the leukemia cells with different concentrations of osha root and found that while the extract didn't reduce or treat the leukemia cells, it did have a protective effect against oxidative stress and inflammation.

 

These studies did not include human trials, which are needed to determine dosages and safety of ingestion, among other things. While oxidative stress can play a role in certain diseases, such as cancer and diabetes, more studies are needed to determine whether osha root would be beneficial for any of these conditions.

 

Osha Root May be Used to Prevent Infections

 

Osha root is sometimes used to prevent infections because it’s thought to have antibacterial and antiviral properties. It has been applied directly to wounds to prevent infections and help with healing. While some studies have found that extracts of osha root can inhibit bacteria, more studies are needed to prove its effectiveness in this regard. Osha root has also been used in the treatment of viral infections, including HIV/AIDS, due to its suspected antiviral properties. However, there is limited evidence to support this use.

 

What are the Active Compounds in Osha Root?

 

The list of medicinally-active compounds in osha root includes: coumarins, phthalides, flavonoids, acetylenic coumpounds, and terpenoids. Two of the major active phthalides in osha root are Z-Ligustilide and Z-6,6′,7,3′-α-diligustilide, however one study identified 31 chemical constituents in the volatile compounds of the roots. The largest percentage of the bioactive components in the essential oils were phthalides and sesquiterpenes, and the major light volatile components were monoterpenes.

 

Is Osha Root Safe?

Osha Root has a long history of use and is considered to be a safe and effective remedy for many respiratory ailments, as well as for viral infections and other uses as well. However, it is important to know that it is unsafe to consume osha when you're pregnant or breastfeeding. Ingesting osha may start menstruation in pregnant women, which could cause miscarriage.

 

Effects during breastfeeding are unknown, so it's recommended to also avoid osha completely.

 

Taken in large doses over an extended period, osha of time may lead to kidney or liver toxicity. Some manufacturers’ labels say you shouldn’t use osha if you have impaired or inflamed kidneys.  It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare practitioner before using products medicinally, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions or are taking other medications.

 

Summary

Osha (Ligusticum porteri), also referred to as Bear Root, Chuchupate, Colorado Cough Root, Indian Parsley, Wild Celery Root, and Mountain Lovage, is a perennial herb and a member of the carrot or parsley family (Apiaceae/Umbelliferae). Osha is a mountain plant, and can be found in deep, moist soils rich in organic matter at elevations between 9,000 –10,000 ft. in New Mexico and other Rocky Mountain regions of the Southwest. Osha plants form large clumps, and in areas of New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah, can reach heights of 6 to 7 feet.

 

Osha is extremely threatened in many areas due to over harvesting. Since osha defies cultivation outside of its unique habitat, commercial osha root is almost entirely harvested from wild stands of the plant. Our Zuma Nutrition osha is ethically wild crafted to protect the plant population of this very important and sacred root. We use this medicinal plant in our Lung Detox Tonic, as it offers unique benefits for the lungs and respiratory system. Our Lung Detox Tonic is a key product in our Detox Supplement Collection.

 

Osha root is a powerful medicine that has been used traditionally for centuries for respiratory ailments and to boost immunity. Many modern studies are also confirming this plant’s healing abilities. It is recommended not to use osha root if you are pregnant or breast feeding, as it may trigger menstruation which could lead to a miscarriage.

 

 

 

 

References

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-959/osha

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5424556/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2095496416602807?via%3Dihub

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27854198/

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