Spanish moss has a number of uses, mainly medicinal. In earlier days, green Spanish moss was brewed and consumed in the form of an herbal tea by expectant mothers, apparently to promote the production and secretion of breast milk in addition to make childbirth easier. In folk medicine, a tea prepared from this herb was also consumed to treat rheumatism. According to claims, this herb was used in Mexico for treating epilepsy among infants. During the beginning of the 1950s, this plant was employed as a substitute for estrogen. In fact, scientists have discovered that Spanish moss has shown that it possesses anti-bacterial properties. Several studies undertaken on animals in laboratories have been found that oral extracts from Spanish moss are helpful in lowering the levels of blood cholesterol. This effect of the plant has been mainly attributed to a compound known as HMG or 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaric acid. Currently, HMG is found as an ingredient in a number of herbal supplements meant for diabetic patients. Here is an interesting fact related to Spanish moss. It is said that a resident of Florida called Cap Monroe, who died at a very ripe age of 135, consumed tillandsia tea daily. Monroe pulled the Spanish moss directly from the trees it grew on. This herbal tea showed enhanced effectiveness and was acclaimed for various reasons, including enhancement in glandular functioning, fatigue, confusion, libido, senility, depression, hyperirritability and several other things. In southern Louisiana, Cajun healers have been using tillandsia tea for diabetes patients since long. Back in 1996, scientists identified a bioactive substance, which had the potential to become an anti-diabetic remedy. Use of this bioactive compound significantly lowered the level of blood sugar in rodents. Previous studies suggested that this compound also possessed the aptitude to lower blood cholesterol levels in humans. Researchers speculate that this bioactive compound may be able to prevent conditions like acidosis (burning of excessive fats) and ketosis (burning of too much proteins) - two common conditions in people suffering from diabetes. Aside from its various therapeutic applications, Spanish moss also has a number of other uses. For instance, it is used in the form of mulch, building insulation, mattress stuffing, packing material and even fiber. During the beginning of the 1900s, Spanish moss was commercially used for padding seats of cars. Available documents show that more than 10,000 tons of Spanish moss was processed commercially for various applications in 1939. Even today, people collect Spanish moss, albeit in smaller quantities, for using it in arts and crafts. In addition, it finds its use as a component in traditional wall covering material bousillage and preparing beddings for different flower gardens. In a number of regions in Latin America, people still use Spanish moss in various nativity scenes. People residing in the desert areas of the south-western United States use dried out Spanish moss plants to make evaporative coolers, which commonly called swamp coolers. Such coolers are used to keep homes and offices cool. Compared to using air conditioners, these swamp coolers are very inexpensive. The process of using these coolers is also very simple. A pump is used to sprinkle water on a pad made from dried Spanish moss plant. Simultaneously, a fan draws the cool air through the pad and passes it into the buildings. When the water on the Spanish moss pads evaporates, it works to lower the temperature, thereby cooling the buildings where they are installed.
The Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) can be propagated both from its seeds as well as division. It is quite easy to grow this herb because it does not require any soil. The key elements for the optimal growth of Spanish moss include a perfect combination of heat and humidity. This plant prefers a temperature higher than 60�F and misting with warm water every day. Spanish moss has a preference for humid conditions. However, this plant possesses the aptitude to trap water and this quality helps it to survive even when the conditions are dry. In addition, when the conditions are too arid, Spanish moss can lie dormant for a considerable period and rejuvenate when there is ample moisture for its growth. Interestingly enough, this plant does not possess any root. It binds to substrates by means of draping its stems around any surface. In addition, this herb also does not require any roots for absorbing water and various nutrients, because all the parts of this plant possess these attributes. Normally, you will find Spanish moss growing on cypress and oak trees. However, it can also grow on several other plants with equal ease.
In 1953, scientists identified an "estrogenic" substance called phytoestrogen in tillandsia. According to the medical journal Science, tillandsia encloses a naturally occurring estrogen precursor, which was documented during experiments undertaken on mice and cattle. In fact, the benefits of endocrine gland are valuable for males as well as females. A study conducted in 1993 stated that the plant possessed properties that performed as hormone precursors as well as promoted healing. During clinical experiments it was observed that providing the subjects with supplements derived from tillandsia continuously supported the enlargement of underdeveloped breasts in adolescent women. In addition, the study also reported that supplementation helped in re-establishing both sexual development and maintaining hormonal (gonadal) balance.
Tillandsia is a wonderful source of chlorophyll. Moreover, it contains abundant vitamin E complex factors, which are known to be very useful in treating various health conditions. Aside from these, tillandsia contains significant amounts of dietary fibers, B vitamins, carotenes and essential minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium and sodium. Spanish moss is especially beneficial in treating conditions like chronic and debilitating health conditions as well as for curing glandular insufficiencies.