Oak moss (scientific name Evernia prunastri) is a lichen species and can be found growing naturally in several hilly temperate forests all over the northern hemisphere, counting various regions of Spain, France, Portugal, and North America in addition to several parts of Central Europe. This lichen species mainly grows on the branches and trunks of oak trees and, hence, the name. Oak moss is also found growing on the bark of various deciduous trees as well as conifers like pine and fir. The thalli (singular, thallus) of oak moss that grow on the bark of the tree are small (measuring anything between 3 cm and 4 cm long) and luxuriant. Precisely speaking, the thallus of oak moss has a flat and strap-like appearance. These thalli are much branched and bear resemblance to the form of antlers of deer. Oak moss is found in a variety of colors - ranging from green to greenish white when they are dry. On the other hand, the color of wet oak moss varies from olive green to yellowish-green. Oak moss thalli have a rough surface when they are dry. The texture of wet oak moss is somewhat rubbery. In present times, oak moss thalli are extensively used in making perfumes.
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In many countries in South-Central Europe, oak moss is harvested commercially and is generally exported to France's Grasse region, where people extract its aromatic compounds in the form of extracts and oak moss absolutes. Often, these extracts as well as oak moss absolutes form the raw material in making perfumes. They are used in the form of perfume fixatives and form the fundamental notes of several fragrances. In addition, they form the key ingredients of Chypre and Fougère class perfumes. It is worth mentioning here that lichen possesses a distinctive as well as complex scent, which can be described as woody, sharp and somewhat sweet. In fact, it has been found that oak moss that grows on pine trunks and branches possesses a marked turpentine smell, which is greatly valued in specific perfume compositions.
Oak moss yields an essential oil, which is extracted by a process known as solvent extraction method. Application of this method yields a solid substance first and subsequently it is completed by undertaking the vacuum distillation method. The main elements of oak moss essential oil include atranorine, delta usnic acid, chloratronorine, evernic acid.
The essential oil of oak moss offers several health benefits and has various applications. It is employed in the form of an antiseptic to put off open cuts and wounds being infected. At the same time, the anti-inflammatory property of this oil helps to soothe swollen areas of the body. Moreover, oak moss essential oil serves as an excellent expectorant and is used to treat coughs and to remove mucus build-up from the respiratory tract. This oil also possesses restorative property, which is useful in combating the symptoms of aging.
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In addition to the above mentioned therapeutic properties of oak moss essential oil, it also possesses antiseptic attributes and has various applications. It is worth mentioning here that septic is attributed to infections by various microbes, mainly bacteria. Once a particular area has been affected by other microbes like viruses, fungi and protozoa they may also invade the already weak area, thereby making the situation worse. In most cases, septic occurs on wounds, but it is never limited to wounds only. This condition may afflict the soft as well as susceptible internal organs like inner ear, food pipe, colon, kidneys, urinary tract, urethra and also the nerves.
In fact, newborns are particularly vulnerable to septic, because their skin is not sufficiently strong to thwart such infections. In most backward and developing countries, even today several hundred newborn babies fall victim to septic and die. Mostly, these infants catch septic at the time when their umbilical cord is severed. However, there are several other causes for such infants to develop septic.
Septic is associated with symptoms like severe pain in the places affected by the condition or the entire body, convulsions, cramps, swelling alongside redness and stiffness of the muscles and joints, anomalous behaviour and sometimes even death, especially in very severe cases.
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Unlike the dreaded tincture, application of this essential oil does not cause a burning sensation. At the same time, the essential oil of oak moss has a naturally sweet smell. Applying this oil on wounds and cuts prevents septic by producing specific conditions in our body that are not favourable for microbial growth. Simultaneously, this oil works to kill the microbes that are present on the wounds or in the body.
The essential oil of oak moss possesses demulcent properties. This means it is capable of soothing and comforting. Precisely speaking, oak moss oil has the capability to soothe any type of irritation or inflammation. The soothing or demulcent property of oak moss essential oil helps to alleviate the skin and ensure that it remains soft and smooth by maintaining the right balance between moisture and oil of the skin. In the same ways, this oil also soothes the digestive system, thereby provides relief from irritations, inflammations, scratches and wounds in the stomach, esophagus and the intestines that are usually caused following consumption of very spicy foods, due to acidity or ingestion of any irritating or toxic substance.
The essential oil of oak moss also helps to soothe inflamed and irritated nerves. It provides relief from inflammations in the brain as well as the nervous system. Another important attribute of this oil is that it has a calming effect on the mucous membranes as well as the excretory tracts that may be enduring irritation, inflammation, and scratches owing to acidity, constipation, spices and even wounds caused by hard bowels and undigested substances.
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Expectoration is a process that helps to slacken the solid phlegm or catarrh build-up inside the various different parts of our respiratory system, including the bronchi, lungs, pharynx, larynx and trachea and eliminating them from the body. Expectoration provides great respite from congestions in the chest, asthma attacks, breathing problems and even coughs. The substance that causes expectoration is known as an expectorant. Oak moss essential oil is considered to be a potent expectorant, as it works to evacuate catarrh and phlegm from the various places in the respiratory system and provides relief from the symptoms associated with them. Unlike many other expectorants available with pharmaceuticals, especially the chemical-based products, use of oak moss essential oil does not make one feel sleepy.
When any substance helps to restore something to its original or initial condition, it is known as a restorative. The essential oil of oak moss is a restorative, as it reduces the consequences of damages caused by the aging process as well as the routine wearing off process occurring in our body by accelerating the healing process. At the same time, this oil helps to restore them to their original and healthy condition. As a result, the use of this oil helps to reinstate our health completely, including the health of our nervous system.
Oak moss essential oil forms an ingredient of soaps with a view to augment their antiseptic and antibacterial attributes. In addition, this oil is also included in lotions and cosmetic creams with a view to fight inflammations on the skin as well as those caused during shaving. Often, this essential oil is combined with other oils for massage purposes. The essential oil of oak moss is also used in aromatherapy, incense sticks, potpourri, as well as air fresheners.
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The essential oil extracted from oak moss should be used with care, as its application may cause skin irritation and sensitization. Women should avoid using oak moss oil during pregnancy. In addition, people enduring neurotic or nervous disorders like hysteria and epilepsy should also keep away from this essential oil.