Bryophytes in traditional systems of medicine

There is no historical record, explaining the use of liverworts and mosses in Ayurveda, the Indian system of medicine. One research claims that mosses from the species of Barbula, Fissidenc, Minium, Thuidium and species of liverworts like Asterella, Dumortiera, Marchantia, Pellia, Plagiochasma and Stephenrencella-Anthoceros were present in the vicinity of Shilajit (Asphaltum punjabianum) exuding rocks and these bryophytes are responsible for the formation of Shilajit. Bryophytes reveal the occurrence of minerals and metals in their tissue such as copper, silver, zinc, iron, lead etc., which are similar to the elements present in Shilajit.

Chinese Traditional Medicine named 40 kinds of bryophytes used to treat cardiovascular diseases, tonsillitis, bronchitis, cystitis, and skin infections. Some species of Fissidens and Polytrichum were utilized as diuretic and hair growth stimulating drugs in China more than 400 years ago. Marchantía polymorpha is used in the treatment of liver diseases like jaundice and hepatitis. In China, Rhodobryum giganteum (Schwaegr.) Par and R. roseum (Hedw) Limpr are used in the treatment of heart ailments.

North American Indians used Bryum, Mnium, Philonotis spp., and Polytrichum juniperinum to heal burns, bruises, and wounds. The Seminole people in North America were reported to use Barbula unguiculata

Hedwig, Bryum capillare T. Bickley and Octoblepharum albidum (L.) Hedw as a febrifuge and anodyne. Willow moss, Fontinalis antipyretica Hedw was once reputed as a febrifuge (documented in the Journal of Linnaeus). Dried Sphagnum was used extensively as a surgical dressing during the First World War. In France, Marchantia polymorpha was used to promote diuresis. In the Himalayas, Riccia sp. was used in the treatment of Tinea (ringworm) infestations.

The use of bryophytes as antibacterial or disinfectant agents deserves special mention. Sphagnum teres (Schimp.) Angstr is used in ophthalmologic diseases. In China and Bolivia, Fissidens osmundoides Hedwig is used an antibacterial agent to treat inflammatory conditions of the pharynx and larynx. Haplocladium microphyllum (Hedw) Broth is used as a demulcent medicine in inflammatory conditions like bronchitis, cystitis, tonsillitis and tympanitis. Philonotis fontana (Hedw) Brid is used by Go suite native people as a soothing preparation for healing burns.

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