Useful properties and uses of lichen
Useful properties of lichen
The beneficial properties of lichen were known in Ancient Egypt and Medieval Europe. At that time, scientists had not yet studied the biological composition of this medicinal plant and used it solely for religious reasons. Nevertheless, already at that time in many cases, the positive effect of such treatment was noted. What is the secret of the healing power of lichen? The answer lies in its biological composition.
In the middle of the twentieth century, medicine began to seriously study the medicinal properties of lichen. As a result of research, the presence in it of the so-called lichen acids was found, among which it is especially worth highlighting usnic, barbatic, fumarprocetrara and squamate acids. They contain some types of lichens that can exhibit a strong antibacterial effect. In addition, scientists from France, the USA, Russia and a number of other countries have identified the antibiotic effect of these living organisms.
As a result of research, whole groups of antibiotics have been discovered that have different effects on bacteria and inflammation. For example, some species suppressed the growth of staphylococci, while others had an antibacterial effect on other types of parasites. Among other things, lichens contain fats, proteins, carbohydrates and other elements useful to the human body. The content of these substances is not the same in different types.
In many countries, these healing groups of organisms are part of medicines used to combat boils, streptococci, staphylococci, lupus erythematosus and other skin diseases. Medicines based on lichens are effective in treating varicose and trophic ulcers, relieving inflammatory processes in soft tissues, in some gynecological diseases and burns. They are also used during plastic surgery. Preparations from certain types of lichen have a strong antimicrobial effect.
In folk medicine, lichen was used more than four thousand years ago. In some Scandinavian countries, its decoctions are still used to treat tuberculosis, catarrh, and colds. There is a good therapeutic and tonic effect of such drugs.
Cough decoction: a tablespoon of lichen (parmelia) should be poured with a liter of water, put in a water bath, after boiling, cook for two hours. This remedy should be taken 3 times a day, half an hour before meals. It is necessary to store the broth in the refrigerator. It is recommended to drink it warm.
Lichens on trees
The appearance of lichens has an extremely adverse effect on the development of the tree. Growing along the trunk and branches, they clog the pores and interfere with the full air exchange of the tree. In addition, they provide an excellent habitat for insect pests. The appearance of this vegetation on trees is often associated with the aging of the tree, poor maintenance, severe frosts, as a result of which cracking of the bark occurs. All these unfavorable factors significantly reduce the tree's ability to withstand pathogens.
At the first appearance of lichens, they must be cleaned off immediately. For this, a wooden scraper is usually used, with which all harmful vegetation on the trunk and branches is treated. All cleaned areas are additionally treated with a special solution of ferrous sulfate, otherwise the infection may recur. To protect the trees from the colony of these parasitic organisms, the trunks are whitewashed in late autumn and winter. However, it should be noted that the appearance of lichens indicates a good ecology of this place.
Parmelia is widely used in folk medicine for the treatment of severe cough, acute colitis, pulmonary tuberculosis, diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.
Parmelia - suppresses severe coughing attacks, helps to thin mucus. Relieves inflammation at any stage of bronchitis. From the first day of admission, improvements in health are observed.
Decoctions are applied externally in the form of compresses and lotions for washing purulent wounds and trophic ulcers. Parmelia has an excellent healing effect. Some recipes of traditional medicine with the participation of this lichen are actively used now.
Recipe for compresses: 5 tablespoons of lichen should be poured with half a liter of water, brought to a boil and cooked over high heat for 25-30 minutes, then infused at room temperature until completely cooled, then strain and squeeze out the raw materials. The agent is applied externally.
The bearded lichen is distinguished by its pronounced antimicrobial properties, which makes it a good remedy for combating skin diseases and trophic ulcers. Like many other types of lichen, the bearded vulture is a natural antibiotic. Preparations based on it have anti-inflammatory, enveloping, expectorant, wound-healing and antiviral effects. From a medical point of view, the most useful component of the bearded man is usnic acid.
It is this acid that helps to more effectively cope with various diseases of the lungs and bronchi. In folk medicine, the bearded man is often used to strengthen the human immune system. It grows mainly in taiga forests. As a medicine, it is collected even in winter.
This group is very easy to recognize, since such lichens have a peculiar shape of a drooping beard. Their thalli can be of various sizes - from a few centimeters to half a meter. Due to the high content of fats, proteins and carbohydrates, they can serve as food for livestock, but due to the insufficient amount of vitamins in them, such nutrition cannot be considered complete.
These include the following types: finger cladonia, longest sleepy, pale ocher alektoria. Some fruticose lichens form the basis of anti-inflammatory and antibacterial drugs. They are widely used in traditional medicine to treat the flu, colds and a number of stomach ailments.
Lichens are scale
Scale lichens include: crowded lecidea, varied lecanora and other types. Their thallus usually looks like a crust, the thickness of which can be varied. The scale thallus, as a rule, is small, their diameter can be equal to several millimeters or centimeters, although in some cases it reaches twenty to thirty centimeters.
Such lichens can be used as bioindicators. They are the last to leave the territory with poor ecology, but if they have already left, it means that things are absolutely bad. For their strong antiviral and antimicrobial actions, lichens have been recognized by pharmacologists in many countries. In folk medicine, they are widely used to treat purulent wounds and coughs.
The thallus in lichens of this species is in the form of a leaf-shaped plate, located horizontally on the substrate. In old lichens, it takes on an irregular shape, although it usually has a round outline. The main feature of the leaf thallus is its dorsoventral structure, due to which the upper surface differs in color and structure from the lower surface.
Due to the high content of various useful acids, these unique organisms are actively used in folk and official medicine. Preparations based on them are effective in combating various skin diseases, trophic ulcers, and respiratory diseases. Usnic acid is considered the main medicinal component.
Epiphytic lichens are excellent bioindicators of environmental pollution, since they obtain all the components necessary for their vital activity from the air. They greatly help scientists in environmental monitoring. The most famous varieties are olive parmelia and bloated hypogymnia. Their peculiarity lies in the absolute intolerance of any pollution, so they cannot be found closer than 50 km from industrial zones or factories.
It is a collection of orange-yellow rosettes, consisting of wide and rounded blades. It grows on treated wood, fences or wooden structures. This species is highly susceptible to dirt. Used in industry to dye fabrics red.
Lichen deer moss
It contains usnic acid, which gives it strong antibiotic properties, due to which preparations from it are actively used in folk and traditional medicine. The lichen got its name because of the addiction of these animals to it. In the winter months, it can make up 90% of their diet. The content of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, sugars and other useful components makes this type of lichen very nutritious. Its only drawback is the lack of a sufficient amount of vitamins.
Contraindications to the use of lichen
Contraindications to the use of lichen are not yet fully understood by science. Allergic reactions to some of its components are possible. Individual intolerance cannot also be ruled out. Lichen-based preparations are not recommended for pregnant and lactating mothers - adverse side effects are possible. Before starting the course of treatment, you should consult your doctor.
The author of the article: Sokolova Nina Vladimirovna | Phytotherapist
Education: Diploma in "General Medicine" and "Therapy" received at the Pirogov University (2005 and 2006). Advanced training at the Department of Phytotherapy at the Peoples' Friendship University of Moscow (2008).
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