Standing under the quaking leaves of Aspen trees, in a quiet little grove, I say a small prayer of thanks for the Osha I am about to harvest, for the medicine that will heal my friends and family, for a food that the bear and I share a fondness.
Its Osha root. That most powerful herb that finds itself in a category of herbs so wild that it refuses to be cultivated in the garden with any great degree of success. Osha asks that you let it be free to grow on its own, in the Aspen groves, laying under the snow in winter, and growing in the cool high mountain shade of summer. It asks that you get cold and dirty when you harvest it, well after the day temps have dropped and most plants have exchanged their greenery for the bare limbs of winter.
Osha as Medicine
Osha as a medicine is a powerful preventative for respiratory imbalances, like coughs, colds, flus, sore throats and other viral respiratory conditions. It has anti-viral, anti bacterial, anti fungal, and anti inflammatory properties making it a superb herb to have in your medicine chest. Taking it at the first sign of symptoms or as a preventative when you have been exposed to illness or your respiratory has been exposed to extreme cold windy weather.
A little bit goes a looooong way. If using you really only need one pea sized piece a day to obtain its medicine.
Osha Root Preparation
I have seen Osha added to tea and tinctures recipes. But I have found one of the best ways to use it is infused into honey. It is pretty magical that bears love honey and rocky mountain bears wake up from hibernation and eat osha. And osha and honey together have combine to make a synergistically potent medicine. Animals always know.
Again if using Osha Honey, you really only need a small (1/4tsp) dose to get its medicine into your system.
Osha Root Honey
I don’t strain this honey. I prefer to use the honey with the bits of osha root in it. Sucking on them like a throat lozenge.
Take a 1/4tsp at first sign of symptoms or as a preventative.
If you choose to harvest your own Osha root there are a couple things I would like to stress. One is you only need a small amount. The apothecary where I live will only sell you a one inch piece. An entire root structure from one plant would be enough for your family, friends, and neighbors for a couple winters. This is not an herb you take in large quantities.
And please follow wild harvesting guidelines. Do not harvest from public lands and please do not over harvest this precious plant.
Lastly please know before you harvest that Osha is very similar in looks to Poison Hemlock. The roots smell nothing alike but the tops of the flowering plants do resemble each other so please take a trained herbalist who can correctly identify Osha.Stay Healthy!