Around Olympia it seems to prefer the branches of birch trees, however it can be found on other trees as well. It grows all over the Cascadia region and probably elsewhere as well.
i have seen one warning about possible negative effects of usneaic acid, but i looked into it a good deal and determined that it is most likely safe, but probably shouldn't be used long term or in large doses. as with all things, moderation. there are also a lot of ideas of how it is or is not processed to be effective.
That's the first I've heard about possible negative effects, that's good to know. What were the effects you heard about? Just so I know what to watch out for--I'm drinking a lot of usnea tea lately, probably fine but might as well find out what trouble would look like.
Usnea is not soluble in water, so you need to extract the usnic acid using booze. I use 100 proof vodka. You pick the usnea, sort out the non-usnea debris that accidentally gets picked too, and really stuff it in a quart jar, then add the booze to cover. It takes about six weeks until it is ready to have the menstruum pressed out and the tincture bottled. I tell people who are coming down with a cold, flu or infection to take 4 droppers (1 tsp.) of the tincture every two hours until they are better. Because it is an immune system stimulant, it should only be taken if necessary. Some of our friends have dubbed it "dragon pee.' It is not the best tasting of herbal remedies.
Lisa Allen wrote:Usnea releases more of its medicine due to the heat of the hot water, not the water. If you place it in boiling water for awhile before wringing it out and putting it in Everclear (which is what I use, the alcohol is around 95%), that should make one kick-rear-end tincture in 6 weeks! I have used it for lungs when infection is involved (Bronchitis, etc.) and kidney stuff (actually UTI) and since it is also antifungal, it works very well with yeast infections, better than other things I have tried in the past. And you really don't need many drops in a dose (and as mentioned, you may not want to)!
If you have everclear and fresh usnea (not dried) there's no reason to heat it up first. Fresh plant extracts in pure ethanol are completely different from tinctures of dried herbs. With dried herbs, you're disolving dried substances in the menstrum. With fresh herbs, you're using an osmotic pressure differential from the pure alcohol to rupture the living cell walls of the herb, thus everything in the cytoplasm will come out with it. No heat necessary. If you're tincturing dry usnea, heating it up is also not necessary as it's quite soluble in alcohol. Refer to Michael Moore's Materia Medica for alcohol percentages for dry plant tincture as well as preferred extraction methods.