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Osha Root

Veterinarian Reviewed on June 6, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized

Osha Root

The Osha root, also called bear root, is a perennial herb of the parsley family. It has been used for its medical and spiritual properties.


The Osha root is a herb native to the highlands and valleys of north America. Most Native American tribes treated this root with high regard as it was very crucial to their everyday needs. The tribal groups of the Zuni, Chiricahua, Tarahumara and Aztec were among the many groups who used this root. This root grows near several areas in the Rocky Mountains.

Ancient Uses

The seeds and leaves of the Osha plant served as food to indigenous Americans. They also functioned as symbols for different beliefs. Others burned them as clean sacrifices for protection against dangerous spirits and omens. They were also freshly washed in waterways near vegetation as rituals for producing rain. These rituals were observed whenever there were droughts. Also, many natives tied them on their ankles as shield against rattlesnakes. They were also worn around the neck for medicinal uses.

Aside from being used as foods and in figurative ideas, the Osha plant has had a long record of medicinal uses. As a matter of fact, a lot of Native American runners chewed on the roots of this plant to increase their endurance. This is probably because of its positive contributions to a healthy respiratory system. Native American Indian parents even used to wrap Osha roots with leaves and strings and then put them near newly born babies to cleanse the air they breathed.

The Osha root was also recognized for its anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. It was an ultimate solution to almost any type of health concern. Also popular as a warming herb, it did amazing wonders to respiratory conditions. It was used as a treatment for Coughs, Colds, tonsillitis, flu, and other types of viral infections.

Modern Uses

The outstanding antiviral properties of the Osha root are still recognized today. In fact, it is still used as early medication for the common cold and flu. Most people actually take this root at the first signals of coughing and sneezing. It is very effective as treatment for respiratory conditions such as sinus congestion, sore throat and inflammations in the bronchus. Because of this, the Osha root, together with honey, has become an essential ingredient in herbal cough syrups. These cough syrups can also be taken by those traveling to higher altitudes or for those who will be doing long-distance hiking as it promotes easy breathing.

Other people powder the root and drink it as tea or apply it as a topical treatment for skin infections. It has also been reported to be effective against indigestion, muscle cramps and ulcers. Because of its medical uses, capsule versions of the root combined with other Native American herbs have been produced and sold locally for easier intake.


There are no existing safety issues with regards to the intake of Osha root. However, as a precaution, it is best to avoid it if one is pregnant or lactating. For those who have existing medical conditions and are currently undergoing treatment, consulting a physician first would be a wise choice.
The Osha root has proven to be an effective medicinal herb from ancient times to the present. It is an economical alternative as treatments at the first sight of common ailments to prevent them from getting worse.

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Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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