Mosses and lichens have existed for millions and millions of years. Mosses are from the bryophyte division, they do not produce either flowers or seeds but reproduce using sphores.
Mosses and lichens have a long history of usage in traditional medicine all over the world. Lichen is a symbiotic relationship consisting of fungi and algae. They can grow in some of the harshest climates on earth. Mosses are usually considered to be a troublesome weed, but like some other weeds and lichens they have medicinal properties. Many types of lichen contain antibiotic properties, one such species is usnea.
Usnea is used in Traditional Chinese medicine to treat cough, eye irritation, leukorrea and headaches for over three thousand years. In Finnish folk medicine, lichen has been used for athletes foot and other skin conditions. The Finns also took lichens orally in the form of milk to treat coughs and tuberculosis.
Mosses are used extensively in Traditional Chinese medicine, forty types of mosses are used to treat ailments such as skin diseases, bronchitis, burns, tonsillitis, cystitis and tympanitis.
Native Americans made poultices from mosses such as mnium, bryum and philonotis, they also used dried sphagnum to diaper babies and as a disinfectant. View more native American herbal remedies.
Indians in the Himalayas burn the ash of mosses and mix it with honey and fat to make an ointment for cuts. Sphagnam moss was also used as a first aid dressing on soldiers in world war one.
Ray Woods the famous welsh botanist want more research into lichens in order to unlock the potential as an antibiotic. Dame Sally Davies has warned that there is a growing resistance to antibiotics and if action isn't taken infections may kill us just from routine operations. This means no more organ transplants or cancer treatments.
In my opinion the UK government need to get busy and provide funding for this research, Ray Woods believes that Wales has more lichens per unit area than any country on Earth. So the potential to find new antibiotics is huge.