Osha root is one of the most potent herbs out there and osha root honey is a great way to prepare it. Osha root cannot easily be cultivated and a little goes a long way.
When it comes to healing the the respiratory system, battling winter chest colds, and warding off deep chest coughs osha root is a master healer.
Osha (Ligusticum porteri) is a plant that grows high in the south eastern Rocky Mountains, often above 8000ft beneath the canopy aspen trees.
Osha is one of the best herbs for deep lung coughs and respiratory illness. Its a special herb, and a little goes a long way.
It has an incredibly strong and bitter flavor and quite the pungent smell, and this follows through in its taste as well as in its ability to be a powerful ally in keeping the respiratory system healthy in the winter.
The root contains oils, including camphor, saponins, ferulic acid, terpenes, and phytosterols which all aid in its ability as a respiratory healer.
Osha acts as an expectorant, clearing mucous from lungs and sinuses to aid in decongestion. It also may increase the flow of blood to the lungs, helping to relieve constriction. It may also have a mechanism that helps the lungs to uptake more oxygen, in other words deeper and clearer breaths.
The common method of drinking your herbs in tea does not really go so well with osha, although I am sure there are some people that could do it and like it, but the flavor is intense. The other common method of preparing a tincture out of Osha also maybe not the best. Some herbalist and herb sources out there say that the properties of Osha are not readily obtained from the common method of tincture preparations.
So how do you take it?
My favorite method is to chop up dried Osha Root and cover it in raw unfiltered honey. This serves the purpose of mellowing out the intense flavor and makes it easier for consumption, which is great for the less hardy and for children. Synergistically the osha root and the honey combine together to make a medicine that can be taken by the spoonful, mixed into tea, or the pea sized chunks of osha root in the honey may be chewed on.
It is said that upon waking from winter hibernation that bears in the high rockies dig up osha root and eat the root as their first meal. Bears love honey, bears love Osha, osha does well in honey, its a little bit o’ magic.
Harvesting and Use
Please please please be aware that harvesting Osha needs to be done with extreme caution.
It looks very similar to Poison Hemlock and although the root of osha has an unmistakable pungent odor that poison hemlock does not have, the foliage looks the same and can be toxic to the touch. So please be very careful when identifying these plants; consult an expert.
On another note, osha root can easily be over harvested. Its growing environment is very specific and limited. Its hard to reproduce the environment of the high rockies on a farm or garden so over harvesting is an issue.
If you do wild craft your own, only take what you need. And keep in mind that a little bit of osha goes a very long way. A single root is enough to keep you, your family, friends, and neighbors healthy all winter and probably into the next winter too. If you get it from a friend or an apothecary please use it sparingly, it is powerful medicine and a little lasts a long time.
Osha Root Honey
Chop about 2 inches of osha root into pea size pieces. Next place the osha into a half pint mason jar. You want about a 1/8-1/4 cup of Osha. You will have little dusty pieces leftover, swipe those into the jar as well. Cover with honey to the top of the jar. Use raw, unfiltered honey, as it has its own medicinal qualities. Seal you jar and let it sit for a couple weeks.
There is no need to strain the osha root out of the honey. The chunks can be sucked on and chewed on for its medicine. One half to one teaspoon of the osha root honey for an adult is a good place to start for dosage. It can be taken straight or placed in tea. Take it when you first feel a cold/flu coming on and take a spoonful or two a day throughout as well.
(Don’t forget to label your jar with the contents and the date.)