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Article: Osha, Wild Bear Root

"The most widely used herbal medicine in the Southwest."

Michael Moore, Los Remedios: Traditional Herbal Remedies of the Southwest

Osha Plant

Osha Plant: Ligusticum poteri

Osha or oshá (Chuchupate) is a mountain plant, and can be found in deep, moist soils rich in organic matter at elevations between 9,000 - 10,000 ft. in Taos County, New Mexico and other Rocky Mountain regions of the Southwest. Osha plants form large clumps, and in areas of New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah, can reach heights of 6 to 7 feet. They produce circular colonies with dozens of root crowns growing from a central root mass.

Osha are seriously threatened in many areas due to over harvesting. Since osha defies cultivation outside of its habitat, commercial osha root is almost entirely harvested from wild stands of the plant.

Our Taos Herb Company Osha is ethically wild crafted to protect the plant population of this very important and sacred root.

Native Americans of North America often observed that bears would look for osha and consume the plant roots directly after emerging from winter hibernation or when wounded or sick. Osha is commonly used today by the Taos and other Northern New Mexican Pueblo People for a variety of purposes, including placing a root in irrigation acequias (ditches) to inhibit cutworms and other larvae.

Osha is a Native American word for bear and is referred to as "Bear Medicine," since the plants are eaten by bears for what appear to be medicinal purposes.



In the Jicarilla language, osha is called ha'ich'idéé. The White Mountain Apache call it ha'il chii' gah. According to White Mountain Apache elders, it is used to support winter wellness. Because of it's strong smell, it is said to be used externally as a snake and insect repellent.

In his seminal publication Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West, Michael Moore states, "I have at least once been offered quantities of Osha root when the picker had mistakenly dug water hemlock roots, which is poisonous! Even the Spanish New Mexicans make mistakes, for one little valley is blithely labeled "Osha Canyon" on all maps, but is crawling with ...Conioselinum. If the plant is at least two or three feet tall, but the seeds have little thin bracts reflexed downward, it is not Osha, but hemlock parsley (Conioselinum). The root is smaller with little scent, whereas Osha stinks!"

"Hemlock looks very much like Osha but never grows above 7,500 feet. Water Hemlock can grow as high as 9,200 feet, but the leaves are much coarser resembling celery." -- Michael Moore, Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West.

Osha Root ExtractOsha Root is also known by the following names: Porter's Lovage, Colorado Cough Root, Chuchupate, "Indian Parsley", mountain ginseng, and Bear Medicine. Ocha Syrup, is made from the wild Osha root from the mountains of New Mexico. Use one tablespoon in a glass of warm water. Contains: Osha Root, White Pine Bark, Yerba Santa, Grindelia, Wild Cherry Bark, Anise Seed, Aralia Root (American Spikenard), Poplar Bud, local honey. View complete ingredients on our online catalog.

Osha contains oxytocin and should not be ingested or used by women who are nursing or pregnant.

FDA Disclaimer

This product is not intended to diagnose or cure any disease. If you are sick or believe you might be sick, consult your doctor.
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