Osha is an herb that finds it’self at the top of my favorite list regularly. I adore all aspects of it, from its flower, to seed. Its powerful smelling root and high mountain home. Then its list of remedy and medicinal properties that seems never-ending. If you know my remedies, you will see this plant show up a lot. Because of all of its uses, this powerful herb is used in the western tradition of herbalism as well as Traditional Chinese Medicine. She is stimulating to the immune system, and an anti-microbial. And in my experience acts as an incredibly powerful tonic to the lungs and respiratory system. Though the species are very different, they are cousins of the Umbelifacea family. This family of plants has many members, all are powerful and some are deadly.
Because of this fact, it is incredibly important to have a perfectly positive ID before experiencing this plant from the wild. Working with a competent herbalist, with skills in botany will maintain a healthy relationship with wild herbs. When I take people on plant walks, this is the first family I cover. Continuous questions as to what is different between two parsley members is always a focus of beginning plant identification. It is one of the first groups of plants I chose to focus on when my Herbalist path begun over 10 years ago.
The Mountains Are Calling…
I came to the Rocky Mountain region of Wyoming first when I was a teenager. I told my mom that this was where I had to be. Then, I didn’t know why, but after answering that call I realized what it was that drew me from that young age. The plant path was already a full blown part of my life, and research had taught me that the plants of high elevation were robust, powerful, and in pristine growing conditions. Plants that I had yearned for when living in my homeland of the Pacific North West, were thriving in mountain meadows. Trickling down creek beds and over rocks. And growing in cozy stands throughout the pine forests.
Osha was one of those plants that I had wanted to work with so very badly. The species in the PAC West being lovely and usable, it wasn’t the massive root of L. porteri. I find her growing above the 8,500 foot mark. All the way to the timber line. Porteri loves a pine forest, but also wants to have water close by. Small open meadows will be full of her fern like leaves, usually growing with Angelicas, Yarrows, and sometimes Fireweed. Her closest friends are the pine and spruce trees.
I have however, found her amongst aspens that are clustered in with the conifers. Letting small amounts of sunlight through their leaves. This gives Osha a perfectly lit and protected forest greenhouse.
Harvesting Osha Root
Liguisticum porteri is harvested after the flower heads have gone to seed. During the early time of autumn. You will know the time is right when her leaves are tinged golden from the beginning of cooler nights, and when the days begin to shorten. There may have even been a light frost in the higher elevations. This is the time for root harvest.
I do love this time of year. Even though it means that winter is closer than it was at the Equinox. I love the harvesting of the fall roots, berries and seeds. It can feel more frantic than picking summer blossoms, but there is a calm that comes with digging in the soil. Osha typically has a very large root structure. From what I have seen, most of the biggest roots come with a flower stalk that is divided more than once. Typically I stick to only harvesting these larger plants.
Not only does this give some extra space for the yearlings to continue to grow, but the harvest yields more. This making it less invasive to the stand. When you harvest a 1-3 pound root once. That makes up to 3 gallons of tincture. More than enough for me to last through the year with selling herbs, and providing remedies to my family. With the hole left behind, I will divide a piece of the root to be planted. This is my offering to the forest. A thank you for providing medicine that is the peoples medicine.
Osha IS Medicine For the People…
Herbalists have always been healers of the forest. The plants call to us, and help us to understand what their messages mean. We are not the ones healing, they are. The herbalist is one who delivers them medicine of the people to the bodies that need it most. As people of the Rocky Mountains, we are ones who come across a great deal of intensity with the landscape that we live in. The plants that are here are ones that match that structure, and are here for us.
Osha is a perfect example for this. I feel that not only does it offer it’s multitude of immune strengthening properties, but it is also a strong lung tonic. This may not be a common aspect of use, but I do believe that with it’s lung strengthening abilities, paired with our homes sitting at elevation and our play days taking us higher. It is here for us in so many ways.
Osha – Immune & Lung Tonic
Osha is being investigated by many labs throughout the world for it’s actions and constituents of chemicals. These studies are confirming an increase in Lung Capacity by up to 40 percent. Showing its ability to activate the immune system and increase circulation throughout the body. All of these point to an immune and lung tonic.
We need extra assistance when living up high. The air is more thin, and this thickens our blood. Thus making the body work harder. When sickness comes through our communities, it is most likely to reach your home one way or another. In towns as small as 200 it is quite impossible not to. With Osha, you not only get a circulatory stimulant but you get a multitude of resins, and chemicals who ward off and fight infection. Specifically Osha is an anti-viral. This being a perfect addition to immune support through cold and flu seasons.
If you are one who usually has a cold settle in the lungs. Osha will not only help to strengthen the capacity and efficiency of your respiratory system, but will also encourage the release of phlegm that causes a stuck, croupy cough. Expect clarity in the lungs and bronchial tubes after taking a therapeutic dose of Osha Root Tincture.
With Osha’s bitter properties, you can get great relief of stomach complaints. Digestion is key to a fully functioning system, and with this, Osha gets put into the highest ranking space for being an all around amazing plant. Giving a tonic to the lungs. Powerful antiviral and antimicrobial properties to a taxed system. AND encouraging a strong circulatory system. How can I not put it in the Tonic Category of my Materia Medica…?
Read More about Osha and Related Friends here