Osha Root is found primarily in the southwestern United States and the lower Rocky Mountains. It’s most commonly found at elevations between 9,000 and 10,000 feet above sea level. Almost all of what is available in the market comes from gathering roots in the wild as this plant seems unwilling to be cultivated outside of its natural habitat.
The plants grow in clusters and resemble ferns with small clusters of white flowers. Long ago, Native Americans observed that bears would dig up the plant and chew on the roots. At first, they assumed it was for health reasons, but upon further observation saw the bears become amorous, as if given a love drug. We now know that Osha root’s side effects are slightly aphrodisiac due to the hormone oxytocin being found in the root and released during its consumption. Because of this, it’s known commonly as bear root.
Some of the benefits associated with Osha root are to stimulate the entire circulatory system; increased blood flow, especially to the brain, increased sweating, which helps to rid the body of toxins, and uterine stimulation. It’s an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral, so it’s used copiously for treating multiple ailments usually occurring in the winter months. Osha has anti-inflammatory properties and a tea made from the root is used for sore throats, body aches, toothaches, bronchitis, and nausea/stomach issues. It’s also been prescribed for menstrual cramps in women.
Externally, Osha is used to treat minor cuts and injuries to prevent infection.
Osha Root Tea
To make a tea from Osha Root, add a few tablespoons (if you have a scale, use about 1/3 oz of dried root) of broken dried root to a pot of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for at least thirty minutes at a minimum. If you have the means and can watch the pot, allow it to simmer on very low heat for several hours or more. The tea will get stronger the longer you can keep it cooking. You’ll have a lovely brownish tea when it’s finished, that smells wonderful and tastes great. You can refrigerate it, but no longer than a few days.
Do not use Osha if you are pregnant. as it may cause a miscarriage or bleeding.
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