Weekly Herb Review #8- Osha

Common Name: Osha (Porter’s Lovage, Porter’s Licorice Root, Colorado Cough Root, Chuchupate)

Scientific Name: Ligusticum porteri

Painting by Willow Arlene

Family: Apiaceae (Umbelliferae); same family as Lovage, Parsley, Dill and Angelica

Parts Used: Root

Harvesting: Osha is found in dry meadows of the western US. It is hardy to zone 6, but very hard to cultivate, so much of it is taken from the wild. If you use this herb, be sure that your sources are practicing sustainable harvesting!

Constituents/Nutrition:Aromatic, warming herb. Contains alkyl-phthalides, which may account for it’s antispasmodic properties.

Properties/Actions: Antimicrobial, antibacterial, expectorant, diuretic, antispasmodic, emmenogogue, induces sweating.

Uses/Indications: Respiratory ailments – dry throat, cough, infection, laryngitis, bronchitis; spastic conditions of the respiratory tract and the gastrointestinal tract (gas, bloating, nausea and vomiting, cramps); ammenorhea

Folk History/Magical Uses: Used by western American Indians in ceremony and for respiratory conditions.

Cautions/Side Effects: Not recommended during pregnancy.

Preparation: Tincture, tea, syrup, sore throat gargle. Suck on the root for 30 minutes when you feel a cold coming on. Frequent dosing is used (like 5x/day) for acute situations.

Recipe:There is not a whole lot out there on Osha so here is a recipe for one of its close relatives, Lovage.
4 Tbsp. olive oil
4 slices stale bread
1 bunch lovage leaves, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 small bundle of parsley, chopped
3 oz butter
2 pints good chicken stock
2 whole eggs and 1 yolk
Pour the olive oil over the bread and grill until brown. Sweat the lovage, garlic and parsley in butter until wilted. Pour on the stock and simmer for 2 minutes. Beat the eggs with salt and pepper. Place one slice of bread in each warmed bowl. Bring the soup to the boil and slowly pour in the egg, stirring gently to separate the egg into strands. Serve over the grilled bread slices.
From Blossom Farm

My Thoughts: I’ve just recently learned about this herb. A friend gave me some in a honey syrup for my cough and it worked wonders! I woke up during the night with a spastic cough that I couldn’t shake. I remembered this stuff sitting in the fridge and after taking a little of the honey and chewing on the root, the cough relief was almost instantaneous! It has a very strong celery flavor and it is said to rival Echinacea in its uses. But, as its popularity grows, the wild stands of it are disappearing. In doing my research, it seems as though Lovage (Ligusticum officinale) has similar medicinal uses and it is easily cultivated. So, Lovage may be a better choice to have in your herb garden and use for spastic respiratory conditions.

Blossom Farm. Retrieved November 25, 2005 from
–Onstad, D. 1996. Whole Foods Companion. Chelsea Green Publishing, Vermont.
Osha. Retrieved November 25, 2005 from
Osha. Retrieved November 24, 2005 from
–Skenderi, G. 2003. Herbal Vade Mecum. Herbacy Press, New Jersey.

Sites to check out
Folk uses
Information on Lovage

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