Date: Tue, 14 May 1996 15:32:06 -0700
From: Howie Brounstein <howieb.TELEPORT.COM>
Subject: Osha

>Thank you for the information about Osha! I find that whatever I can do to increase the flow of fluids in my body improves my condition for allergies and colds, though. Do you happen to know the Latin name of the herb? Sometimes we have east-west disjuncts, and a close relative of a plant out there will turn up here in Florida, believe it or not! What did the Native Americans use Osha for?

I love Osha and use it more than Echinacea for colds and throat problems..although I don't believe it increases white blood cell counts like Ech....It's a personal choice. Although my commercial preparations contain only true Osha (that's the herb people know), my students and I primarily use and harvest the local plant that's closely related in chemistry and uses...Oshala. It's nowhere near as strong......but it does the job just fine.

Here's some pertinent stuff from my database about Oshala

Ligusticum grayi......common names Oshala, Gray's Lovage, Osha (mistakenly...this is not true Osha)...Ligustikon = name of some ancient Greek Umbelliferae.

Note: As some of the constituents in this genus are only partially water soluble, it is best chewed, encapsulated, or tinctured. Native Americans peel their roots, and so you can tell where the root came from.

Oshala, Ligusticum grayi, is the finest remedy in our area for sore throats from colds, coughing, dusty country fairs, and too much singing or howling at the moon. i believe it rivals Echinacea Root for this purpose. Take a few droppers of tincture followed by some water, or chew a small piece of the root as often as necessary. the root is a very warming herb that increases circulation and promotes sweating. This makes it a diaphoretic, useful in the beginning stages of colds and flus. Upper respiratory congestion can also be helped with this plant. Add these uses together with the anti-bacterial and possibly anti-viral properties, and this herb becomes an excellent treatment for general infections. Take the basic dosage (3 droppers of tincture 3 times a day) and adjust as necessary for the "creeping crud" or flu.

The aromatic and bitter qualities of this root make it useful for mild indigestion, flatulence, or the stomach irritability occasionally associated with colds and flus. Oshala,Ligusticum grayi, and true Osha, Ligusticum porteri, are emmemogues, and will bring on menstruation. I recently met a young woman who had been introduced to true Osha, Ligusticum porteri, as a beneficial and sacred herb. She had been chewing large amounts of dried root every day. I cautioned that it could bring on periods. She said, "maybe that's why I've been bleeding for the last fourteen days!" Remember, the difference between poison and medicine is dosage.

Native American cultures in the Northwest and the Rockies each use their own Ligusticums in similar ways. They peel their roots and chew them medicinally. these roots are also burned as incense for purification (smudging), ground and smoked with other herbs for a menthol-like flavor, and carried around in medicine bags. Ligusticums are considered powerful and sacred herbs.

The leaves of Oshala, Ligusticum grayi, are edible and taste like a mild Parsley. The seeds make a pleasant spice or a pleasure tea. Like the root, these aromatic seeds can be useful medicinally in the form of tea or tincture for stomach irritability.

Oshala, Ligusticum grayi, grows in the Cascades and the Sierras (Washington, Oregon, California), east to central Idaho and Northeast Nevada. A larger plant, Ligusticum apiifolium, grows in the western interior valleys of the Pacific Northwest. The Indians of Northern Washington use Ligusticum canbyi. True Osha, Ligusticum porteri, grows in New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming. It is much larger and more potent than the other related Ligusticums. All these species should be useful medicinally, although differing in strength. True Lovage, Levisticum officinale was originally named Ligusticum levisticum. The Chinese plant Ligusticum wallachii is used for lowering blood pressure, inducing uterine contractions, and slowing postpartal bleeding.

You can find even more about this plant through theLigusticum link on my homepage.

Howie Brounstein