We wild-crafted this Osha root hydrosol in the mountains of southern Colorado recently (Oct ’24). The location is quite close to us and we have a long-standing relationship with the wilderness there.
Osha (Ligusticum porteri), also known as bear root, is often tinctured or put in honey, which makes most of the aroma disappear. Our hydrosol preserves the uniquely powerful aroma. This is only our second year distilling it and we only distill it once a year, in fall, which is the perfect time to collect root medicine.
Osha is part of the parsley family (Apiaceae family). The root has been used in North America and Mexico probably since humans walked on these lands. It grows in clearings, in moist, shady wooded areas mostly at higher attitudes. It’s most well-known as Osha, but is it has many names including Porter’s Lovage, Porter’s ligusticum, wild lovage, Indian root, mountain ginseng and bear medicine. Bears use this plant medicinally. It makes sense that they would benefit before and after hibernation from the qualities of endurance this plant offers. It also has protective qualities and has been used as a talisman and on the ground. Its smell protects against unwanted influences and snakes. From the smell, we can be pretty sure it good medicine for the respiratory tract. It’s supportive energy that helps us endure situations and have stamina also supports the immune system, keeping us strong in many ways.
It certainly gives stamina and lifts the mood, makes you not feel overwhelmed when you’re tired and cold but puts a smile on your face. It is a powerful spirit that you can definitely feel when you smell it.
Although, we feel it may be over-harvested and there have been years when we haven’t found any nearby in northern New Mexico, a quick search of the IUCN Red List, states that it’s of ‘least concern’ (https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/116995418/120916883).