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Plant Part Used

Entire plant

Active Constituents

Stictinic acid, constictinic acid, hydroxylantraquinone, barbatinic acid, evernic acid, usnic acid, fatty acid, barbatolic acid, usnetinic acid, barbatinic acid, stictinic acid. (1) , (2) , (3) , (4)

Introduction

Usnea misaminensis is a conspicuous, pale grey lichen, which can be found throughout Peninsular Malaysia and also at Mt. Kinabalu, Sabah. (5) The lichen grows on the bark and wood of the coniferous and deciduous hardwood host tree in orchards and damp forests. (6) Usneas are used in a great variety of ways throughout the Malay Archipelago. They were used extensively in treating intestinal troubles linked to their astringent being. Lichen has been known for its ability to collect moisture, whereby they do so conspicuously on mountain passes, and filtering the wind. Thus, diseases that were considered to be carried by the air, the lichen is held to filter out the contagion as they do the moisture. By this reasoning, they may be used for all the diseases. Furthermore, there have been records that the Malays are using them as traps for flying venom (evil spirits) as it is assumed that the lichen may be actually repellant.

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

For treatment of tuberculosis, tincture (1:3-5, 50% alcohol) or decoct: 2-7 droppers full 3 times per day for 6 months.

For other traditional uses, tincture (1;3, 70% alcohol) adult dosage is 3ml for 3 times daily. In acute cases, higher dosage is needed. Some suggested 1:5 dry strength liquid extract; 20-60 drops 1-4 times per day.

For wound healing, directly apply powdered herb onto open wound.

Most Common Dosage

For treatment of tuberculosis, tincture (1:3-5, 50% alcohol) or decoct: 2-7 droppers full 3 times per day for 6 months.

For other traditional uses, tincture (1;3, 70% alcohol) adult dosage is 3ml for 3 times daily. In acute cases, higher dosage is needed. Some suggested 1:5 dry strength liquid extract; 20-60 drops 1-4 times per day.

For wound healing, directly apply powdered herb onto open wound.

Standardization

No standard marker reported. Other standard profiles have been documented in the Malaysian Herbal Monograph. (7)

Toxicities & Precautions

General

Usnea misaminensis should be used with caution. The herb from heavily polluted areas should be avoided due to its ability to absorb heavy metals from the air. Immune status must be monitored carefully when used in autoimmune conditions.

Side Effects

The possible adverse effects of usnea are local irritation and allergic contact dermatitis, which is sometimes accompanied by conjunctivitis. These effects are attributed to usnic acid, one of the chemical constituents present in usnea. (8)

No side effects have been reported using the tincture or the decoction. Allergic contact dermatitis may occur in topical use.

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

Usnea misaminensis should not be used during pregnancy.

Age Limitations

Safety in young people and the elderly has not been established.

Pharmacology

The antimicrobial, antiproliferative, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretoc activities displayed by usnea was attributed to usnic acid and its derivatives, the main active component in usnea. The following are the reported activities of usnic acid.

Antibacterial activity
Usnic acid poses antibacterial activity, which is selectively against gram positive bacteria including clinical isolates Enterococcus faecalis, E. Faecium and straphylococcus aureus. (9) Usnic acid disrupts cell membrane functions and thus prevents oxidative phosphorylation that leads to ATP formation. Human cells are not adversely affected, as it is less permeable to usnic acid. The growth inhibition of usnic acid against Mycobacterium aureum was also confirmed with the MIC value of 32 ug/ml. (10)

Antifungal and antiprotozoan activities
Antifungal acitivity has been ascribed to usnic acid against the plant pathogens Penicillium frequentans and verticillium albo-atrum. (11) Usnic acid also exhibited inhibitory effects in an in vitro study carried out on the pathogenic protozoan Trichomonas vaginalis. (12)

Antiviral activity
Usnic acid may be the answer to treating Herpes simplex type 1 and polio type 1 viruses. (13) An experiment carried out on virus-infected African green monkey kidney (BS-C-1) cells showed promising results. Usnic acid was also found useful to inhibit tumor promotion, potent inhibitory effects (ED50 1.0 ug/ml) against Epstein-Barr virus activation induced by teleocidin B-4, a potent tumor promotor. (14)

Antiproliferative activity
Usnic acid at 50 ug/ml concentration was shown to reduce cell count of leukemic (K-562) and endometrial carcinoma (Ishikawa, HEC-50) cell lines. Extending the exposure time could cause the inhibition to increase significantly. (15)

Anti-inflammatory activity
The anti-inflammatory experiment on both rat paw oedema assay (acute affects) and cotton pellet assay (chromic effects) showed that the effects exhibited by usnic acid was comparable to those that were shown using ibuprofen at an oral dose of 100mg/kg. (16)

Analgesic and antipyretic activity
Analgesic and antipyretic activity in mice showed that oral administration of usnic acid at 30 mg/kg and 100 mg/kg resulted in significant analgesic effects and antipyretic activity respectively. (17)

Reported Uses:

Uses reported in folk medicine, but not supported by clinical data:
Common uses:
Usnea has been widely used traditionally for treating various types of disorders and diseases which includes the treatment of cough, pleurisy, profuse phlegm, bronchitis, scrophula and leucorrhoea. Other common uses of Usnea are treating uterine problems, delayed menstruation, malignant tumors, boils, abscess, stomatitis, stomach ache, antitussive, toxic snake bite, lupus, headache, baldness, general wound healer, eupeptic and diarrhea.

Other uses:
It is used as a vasodilator and is also used to relax muscles of the uterus, bronchi and intestines. It is also used to improve blood circulation and as an antiseptic. Like other usneas, this plant is also used to treat multiple types of infectious diseases such as fungal infections, yeast infections, athlete’s foot, ringworm, urinary tract infections, acute bacterial infections, sinus infection, common cold, flu, malaria, tuberculosis and pneumonia. Furthermore, it is used to treat different types of inflammation such as dysentery, mastitis and eye inflammation.

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  1)  Safety

References

  1. Asahina Y. Lichenologishe Notizen no: 195. J Japan Botany. 1965;40:1-4.
  2. Sarma KG, Huneck S. uber Flechteninhaltstoffe. 52. Mitteilung uber die Ihhaltstoffe winiger Flechten aus dem Himalaja. Die Pharmazie. 1968;23:583-584.
  3. Laily BD, Zuriati Z, Samsudin MW, Latiff A. Kajian liken Malaysia III: RMN asid stiktik dan usnik daripada Usnea misaminensis. Sains Malaysiana. 1989;18(2):9-17.
  4. Laily BD, Samsudin MW, Zuriati Z, Latiff A. Asid usnik daripada Usnea misaminensis (vain.) mot. Laporan teknik FSFG. 1987;1:201-209.
  5. Laily BD, Zuriati Z, Samsudin MW, Latiff A. Kajian liken Malaysia III: RMN asid stiktik dan usnik daripada Usnea misaminensis. Sains Malaysiana. 1989;18(2):9-17.
  6. Burkill IH. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula, Jil II. Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 1968:2254-2255.
  7. Zhari I, Norhayati I, Jaafar L. Malaysian Herbal Monograph, Volume 1. Malaysian Monograph Committee. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 1999.
  8. Ingolfsdottir K. Molecules of interest: Usnic acid. Phytochemistry. 2002;61:729-736.
  9. Ingolfsdottir K. Molecules of interest: Usnic acid. Phytochemistry. 2002;61:729-736.
  10. Ingolfsdottir K. Molecules of interest: Usnic acid. Phytochemistry. 2002;61:729-736.
  11. Proksa B, Sturdikova M, Pronayova N, Liptaj T. (-)-usnic acid and its derivatives. Their inhibition of fungal growth and enzyme activity. Pharmazie. 1996;51:195-196.
  12. Wu J, Zhang M, Ding D, Tan T, Wan B. Effect of Cladonia alpestris on Trichomonas vaginalis in vitro. Chinese J Parasit Dis. 1995;13:126-129.
  13. Perry NB, Benn MH, Brennan NJ, et al. Antimicrobial, antiviral and cytotoxic activity of New Zealand Lichens. Lichenologist. 1999;31:627-636.
  14. Yamamoto Y, Miura Y, Konoshita Y, et al. Screening of tissue cultures and thalli of lichens and some of their active constituents for inhibition of tumor promoter-induced Epstein-Narr virus activation. Chem Pharm Bull. 1995;43:1388-1390.
  15. Carderelli M, Serino G, Campanella L, et al. Antinitotic effects of usnic acid on different biological systems. Cell Mo Life Sci. 1997;53:667-672.
  16. Vijayalumar CS, Viswanathan S, Kannappa M, Parvathavarthini S, Kundu AB, Sukumar E. Anti-inflammatory activity of (+)-usmic acid. Fitoterapia. 2000;71:564-566.
  17. Okuyama E, Uneyama K, Yamazaki M, Kinoshita Y, Yamamoto Y. Usnic acid and diffractaic acid as analfesic and antipyretic components of Usnea diffracta. Planta Med. 1995;62:113-115.

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