Ligusticum porteri

Herbs gallery - Osha

Common names

  • Chuchupate
  • Colorado Cough Root
  • Osha

Osha is a perennially growing herb that produces shiny, jagged compound leaves and greenish yellow blossoms. Similar to Echinacea, which is an anti-bacterial herb from the American Great Plains, osha is also an anti-bacterial herb found in the American Rocky Mountains. This plant possesses a scent that has resemblance to camphor. The camphor-like scent of the herb is attributed to its essential oil that is accountable for most of the plant's curative properties.

Osha is a very familiar and extensively used herb having scented roots. The roots of this herb possess numerous therapeutic properties and, hence, are used to treat a number of health conditions. Adding the dry powdered roots of the plant to hot water results in a medication that promotes perspiration, reduces or cures fevers and also helps to slacken off as well as force out phlegm in cases of lung infections, for instance, flu and pneumonia. Syrup prepared with the roots and honey is used to treat coughs and tender throats. An ointment or salve prepared by blending the root powder with turpentine, chamomile, tallow and contrayerba (Kallstroemia) is utilized as a disinfectant or antiseptic for external cuts and bruises. In addition, the osha roots are mixed with olive oil to prepare a rub for alleviating rheumatic pains. Cut the fresh roots into small pieces and chew them to treat flatulence as it possesses stomachic and carminative properties. In addition, chewing the osha roots has also helped people in giving up their addiction to nicotine. An herbal tea prepared with the leaves and stems of osha is given to children suffering from colic (spasmodic pain in the abdominal region or bowels).

However, here is a warning. Remember never to confuse osha with poison hemlock (botanical name Conium maculatum).

The herb osha belongs to the parsley family and is found growing in arid meadows in the West. Conventionally, this herb has been used as a decontaminating tonic and it is also a part of a number of ceremonies of the indigenous people of North America. In contemporary period, the herb is used therapeutically as a decongestant as well as a tonic for the respiratory tract and the upper digestive system.

Similar to a number of different wild members of the parsley family, it is quite difficult to cultivate osha and, hence, majority (if not the entire) of the commercial variety of the herb available is collected from the wild. Since the osha plants do not have the aptitude to reproduce liberally and because the root of the plant is taken for therapeutic purposes, stands of the herb from which harvesting is done, continue to lessen in size provided the harvesting is undertaken in a very cautious and accurate manner.

Parts used

Root, stem, leaves.


As aforementioned, osha possesses anti-bacterial as well as anti-inflammatory properties and is a perfect herbal medication for treating viral infections of the throat, sinuses and the upper as well as lower respiratory tracts. This herb helps to bring up as well as expel phlegm or respiratory secretions and unwinds the smooth muscles making it easier for asthmatic and cough patients to breathe. In addition, osha helps to promote sweating as well as get rid of toxic substance from the body by means of the skin pores.

Osha offers numerous health benefits and some of the condition-specific advantages of taking this herb are noted below.

In the Native American medicine, osha is a traditional herbal medication, while a home remedy of the American West. It is effective in treating arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome (a general malady of the wrist and hand marked by ache, stinging and debility of muscles caused by pressure on the median nerve in the wrist area), as it helps to provide relief from inflammation.

Z-ligustilide is among the main active constituents of the osha herb that acts quietly against bacterial as well as yeast infections. This substance is present in very small quantities in osha and it helps to stop the replication of bacteria and yeast cells inside the body. At the same time, this chemical also loosens up the lining of muscles in the respiratory tract. This herb is highly beneficial for treating chronic respiratory conditions as well as viruses that seem to delay leaving.

Osha is available in the form of a tincture and can also be transformed into a hand bath. In effect, most of the non-prescription (over-the-counter) osha medications for flu and colds actually blend this herb with Echinacea as well as goldenseal in an alcohol-based tincture. In case you are sensitive to any of the herbs mentioned here, ensure that you read the label of the medication cautiously before you use this medication.

In case the herb is consumed in large amounts, it may prove to be a potent stimulant. Usually, the root of osha is chewed and subsequently spit out when the remedial elements have been extracted by the chewing process. The root of this herb is also used internally in small doses for treating stomach ache, heartburn and fever. In addition, a poultice can be made with osha roots to treat bites by hermit spiders. Members of the White Mountain Apache tribe in the east central region of Arizona in the United States use osha as a snake and insect repellent. In addition, they also use the herb to facilitate curing sore throats, common colds, cough, sinusitis as well as other adverse effects of the winter season. Similar to different bitter herbs, osha too has a propensity to improve the symptoms of indigestion and, at the same time, augment appetite. Some people also chew small cut pieces of the osha root with a view to get rid of their nicotine dependence.

The herb osha is often referred to as 'Bear Medicine' since the Native Americans noted that bears were likely to look for the plant after they emerged from hibernation and also when they were injured or sick. The sick or injured bears would generally eat the plant or rub it over their fur as a cure for their health conditions. In effect, rubbing the osha root into the fur of the bears aided in protecting them against infections as well as various parasites.

In addition to its therapeutic uses, various Native American groups use osha during their different ceremonies. Owing to its potent impact on the respiratory as well as bronchial systems, osha is held in high esteem in traditional herbal medicine. This herb is associated with problems of the mucous membranes and promotes a vigorous immune system. Additionally, osha also unwinds the muscles of the air passages making breathing easier. It is considered to be an ideal herbal medication for all types of bronchial problems.

Habitat and cultivation

Generally, it is very difficult to cultivate osha as it does not reproduce freely. However, possibly the best way to cultivate this herb is by aiding its propagation in the already present stands in the wild. It is also possible to germinate the seeds of this plant by freezing them and subsequently planting them in a cold frame. However, in most cases, the seedlings will usually not prosper or survive under cultivated conditions, as it seems to require a number of precise amalgamations of the soil variety/ chemistry, sunlight and weather.


Clinical tests have established that osha possesses anti-viral attributes and is extremely effectual in treating cold, flu, the upper respiratory tract systems as well as different viral infections of the respiratory system.


The chemical analysis of the osha root has revealed that it encloses furanocoumarins and mucilage.

Usual dosage

An infusion prepared with the roots of osha is taken internally to cure a number of medical conditions. In addition, fresh liquid extract of the herb's roots is also used internally. The standard dose of the infusion prepared with osha root is one to two teaspoonful of cut and crushed freshly obtained root infused for approximately 25 minutes. If you are taking the root liquid extract, ensure that its strength is in the ratio of 1:1:8. Take 20 to 60 drops of this root liquid extract once to four times every day.

Side effects and cautions

As with using any other medications, you ought to adopt a few precautions when you are taking osha in any form. In the event you are self-medicating with this herb for a prolonged period, take a break for about a week after every few months. Here is a word of caution, a medical preparation with the herb osha should not be given to pregnant women for using this herb in large doses may result in the contraction of the uterine making childbirth problematic.


From Angelle - Dec-16-2015
I think people are using too big dose of osha root. A very tiny amount will do. I first encountered osha root when I had a severe injury to my mouth - I had bitten my cheek in a fall and it had become infected and began festering. After the first week of injury, I had a wretched reaction to antibiotics and was not looking forward to trying others, so I had put off going back to the doctor for weeks. After 3 weeks, it had not healed and I was getting concerned that it would penetrate to the outside. I met a Lakota Spiritual Leader, who gave me a tiny piece, an 8 inch sliver, and told me to hold it in my mouth with my saliva, letting that saliva wash over the wound and to keep at this all day, removing the piece when I ate and putting it back after. At night, he said for me to take it out and save it on a napkin, put it back in in the morning. By the first evening (4-5 hours), the swelling was greatly reduced. By the next day, my cheek was a normal size. In 3 days, it was healed. But it didn't stop there. I saved the little piece. Some weeks later, I had to have my wisdom teeth out. Again, used the small piece of osha root, returned to the oral surgeon 3 days later for him to check on my stitches. He said, "Oh, my god! What have you been doing?" I thought I was in trouble, but he said, "You have 3 weeks of healing in 3 days!"
So, for the sake of maintaining this plant, people need to be encouraged to use it, but use it sparingly. Small amounts will do big work.
From Joseph F. - Dec-06-2012
Combining osha and peppermint for sore throats, flu like symptoms, coughs have been very effective. Suggested use of honey to improve taste.
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