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Bear Root the Herb and Some of Its Useful Benefits

Herbalife, Porter

Latin Name
Ligusticum Porteri

Common Names
Bear Medicine, Bear Root, Chuchupaste, Colorado Cough Root, Empress of the Dark Forest, Indian Parsley, Indian Root, Mountain Carrot, Mountain Ginseng, Mountain Lovage, Nipo, Osha Porter’s Lovage, Osha Root, Porter’s Licorice-Root, Porter’s Ligusticum, Porter’s Wild Lovage, Washía

Bear Root is part of the Apiaceae family. Ligusticum is a genus of about 25 different species of perennials, occurring in Northern temperate regions closely related to ligusticum officinale. Bear Root is a perennial with a large hairy, celery scented dark brown root with hollow stems and dark green divided leaves which have a celery- parsley aroma. It produces tiny white flowers in umbels in the summer that also have a celery like scent to them.

Bear Root contains volatile and fixed oils, and a very bitter alkaloid which has been shown to increase blood flow to the coronary arteries and the brain. The parts of Bear Root that are used are the oils, seed and roots. Ligusticum Porteri or Bear Root is a bitter, camphoraceous warming herb that stimulates the circulation, kidneys and uterus. Bear Root is also anti-bacterial, anti-viral, improves digestion, and is an expectorant and increases perspiration.

Bear Root can be used medicinally internally to treat bronchial infections, coughs, digestive complaints, fevers, painful menstruation, toothaches, retained placenta and virus infections. Bear Root can be used externally to treat minor injuries and skin infections. Bear Root also can be used in culinary purposes because dried leaves and seeds have a flavor very close to celery, chervil and parsley.

Bear Root or Osha was a very important herb among Rocky Mountain tribes who according to the Navajo legend that they learned how to use it from the brown bears hence the name Bear Root. The bears chew the roots and rub the maceration into their fur which is behavior that probably helps to protect them from parasites and infections.

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Bear Root prefers well-drained to dry soil in the sunlight. Bear Root is hard to grow in low elevations. When planting Bear Root it should be sown by seed in the spring and by division in the autumn. Bear Root root’s should be lifted in autumn and used fresh or dried for decoctions, oil extractions and tinctures. Seeds should be collected when ripe and ground up or distilled for oil.

Bear Root has no know side effects other than an allergy or hypersensitivity to bear root or to bear roots plant family. However, over time high doses of bear root are taken it may cause kidney or liver toxicity. No know adverse reactions have been reported with the use of bear root.

It is very important that bear root is identified correctly because it is often confused with hemlock parsley to which it closely resembles. It is sometimes also mistaken for poison hemlock which is fatal in humans when ingested. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use bear root because it has been detected in the breast milk of nursing mothers.

When bear root is taken in a tincture is should be taken in 20-60 drops five times a day. 1 part part bear root and 2 parts honey also works well for a cough syrup and it tastes better to children. Bear root can also be given with Echinacea for leukocytosis.

Note: When using any forms of herbal remedies you should always discuss it with you doctor or a qualified herbal practitioner before using especially if you are taking any types medication to make sure that they do not create any bad reactions or side effects. The material in this article is not meant to take the place of diagnosis and treatment by a qualified medical practitioner. All recommendations herein contained are believed to be effective but since the actual use of herbs by other individuals is beyond the author’s control, no expressed or implied guarantee as to the effects of their use can be given nor liability taken.

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