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usnea tincture recipe

This usnea tincture recipe is super easy to make, but is so good for you and works to promote healthy immune, urinary health.

What is Usnea?

I’m sure that you’ve probably seen this  lichen many times as it grows in lacey bunches attached to trees all over the world. I see it often on my walks in Northeastern Connecticut, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized its medicinal worth. 

After doing some research on how best to prepare usnea in order to get the most out of this wonderful specimen, I decided to share what I’ve learned.

Usnea is a greyish-green lichen with medicinal properties that grows on trees, rocks, and shrubs.  It’s often referred to as Old Man’s Beard due to its resemblance to an old man’s beard. 

A lichen is an organism that has characteristics of a Fungus and Algae. In Traditional Chinese Medicine Usnea Lichen is known for its “cooling and drying” energetic properties and its ability to “clear heat, move damp, and resolve toxicity”. 

Usnea is antimicrobial, antibacterial, vulnerary and antifungal. 

What is Usnea Good For?

Usnea is good for supporting a healthy immune response in the respiratory tract and mucus membranes, healthy functions of the urinary system, and maintains a healthy microbial balance within the Urinary System. 

What I love so much about Usnea is that it truly is one of the most powerful locally-sourced immune medicines to turn to when you’re starting to feel a cold or flu coming on..  When taken at the onset of a cold or flu, when your immune system is working like crazy to respond, Usnea’s antibacterial properties disrupt the metabolic function of bacteria and prevent the bacteria from reproducing and making you sicker!

Where Do You Find Usnea?

Tree lichen can be found in many places and forests around the world.  Usnea typically grows on pine, spruce, juniper, and fir trees along with oak, hickory, walnut, apple, and pear. If you have any of these trees around you, and the air quality is good, then chances are also good that you’ll find Usnea.

Identifying Usnea

The best and easiest way to identify Usnea is to hold a strand in your fingers and gently pull on both ends. The outer green sheath will pull apart, revealing a white inner core that will stretch before snapping. Usnea is elastic; other lichens aren’t.

usnea tincture recipe

Is Usnea Harmful to Trees?

When I first noticed usnea growing prolifically from trees in the forest near my home, I thought the lichen must be hurting the trees, but what I found out was much different. In fact, seeing usnea growing is an indication of air purity since usnea will not grow where there is pollution or poor air quality. 

With that being said, it’s important to note that lichen is in no way harming your trees. However, lichen is rarely found on healthy, vigorous trees, so the presence of lichen may point to an unhealthy or dying tree (caused by other reasons, such as pests or disease).


How Do You Gather Usnea?

When foraging and harvesting Usnea for tincture, tea, or other preparations, it’s best to harvest from dead fallen branches and limbs and not from living trees because of the extreme slow-growing nature of this lichen. 

Processing Usnea into Medicine

For home use, usnea is best used as a tincture. Making a tincture is very easy using the folk method, where exact amounts are not necessary.

When the tincture is finished, and the longer you leave it in the jar, the better, strain the liquid and decant into dark-colored dropper bottles. Keep the tincture in a dark, cool place. This has a shelf life of about a year.

How to Use Your Tincture

Usnea tincture is not recommended as preventative medicine, but rather as a medicine to be used when illness has already begun. Take a dropper full every four hours at the onset of a cough or cold. It is thought that Usnea stops bacteria from multiplying and thus shortening the duration and severity of the illness.

If you don’t like the taste, go ahead and add it to some hot tea or juice, or add it to a spoonful of honey. 

Usnea has no known side effects but may be harmful in large doses. Don’t use excessively or over long periods of time.

Below are the steps necessary for preparing a dual-extract usnea tincture recipe.

usnea tincture recipe
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Dual- extract Usnea Tincture Recipe

Usnea tincture recipe - this lichen is an infection fighter.  Unlike most modern antibiotics which disrupt the structure of a cell, this lichen prevents the metabolism of many bacterias such as StreptococcusStaphylococcus, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis.  It is particularly effective for hot, irritable, wet coughs.
Author: Barbi Gardiner


  • Sharp Knife or scissors
  • Quart size jar
  • Vodka 90 %
  • Fine Mesh Strainer or Cheesecloth
  • Crockpot


  • Usnea
  • Vodka
  • Filtered Water


  • Step 1:  Chop up your Usnea into smaller pieces with a knife or clippers. (chopping allows the most beneficial medicinal constituents of the lichen to be extracted)
  • Step 2:  Loosely fill a clean quart jar with the Usnea.
  • Step 3:  Pour a high quality 90% alcohol over the Usnea until it’s completely covered. I use Vodka.
  • Step 4:  Seal jar and store in a warm dark place.  Shake twice a day.
  • Step 5:  After 2-4 weeks, strain Usnea from the tincture using a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth.  Make sure you give it a good squeeze to get out all the tincture!
  • Step 6:  Reserve the Usnea (you’ll be using it shortly to make the decoction).  Measure the volume of tincture that you just strained, then set it aside in a sealed jar (you’ll be using it in a couple of days).
  • Step 7:   Measure out filtered water that is double in volume to the amount of tincture you just measured.
  • Step 8:  Place the Usnea into a crockpot and cover it with the filtered water.
  • Step 9:  Turn crock pot to its lowest setting and let the Usnea and water cook for 48hrs.
  • Step 10: After 48 hrs, strain the Usnea from the water.  At this point the water should have cooked down to half the amount, so it should be equal in amount to the alcohol tincture.
  • Step 11:  Combine the alcohol extract (tincture) with the hot water extract (decoction).  You now have a dual-extract Usnea tincture!

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