Lichens and Humans

Lichen use by humans has a long history extending back many centuries. The Egyptian process of mummification and pre historical cave paintings may have utilized lichens. Currently, lichen metabolites have shown significant promise in the field of human medicine, particularly in cancer and in our ongoing battle to stay ahead of infectious bacteria by synthesizing new antibiotics found in lichens. There are many references to lichen use by humans. We can do no better than cite two excellent websites which cover the subject thoroughly: and The list below is taken verbatim from the latter website for ease of reference but the site offers additional information.

Lichens have been and are still being used for many other purposes, including:

* Alcohol production (for fermentable carbohydrates, as catalysts, and/or as flavor/preservatives)
* Cosmetics (for hair, and/or sweet smelling powders)
* Perfumes (see Oakmoss)
* Decorations (including costumes and artwork)
* Fiber (clothing, housing, cooking, sanitation)
* Animal feed (both fodder and forage)
* Fuel
* Industrial purposes (production of acid, antibiotic, carbohydrate, limas)
* Tanning
* Hunting/fishing (to find prey, or to lure them in)
* Navigation
* Insect repellent/insecticide
* Preservatives (for food or beer)
* Poison (arrowheads, wolves: see Letharia vulpina)
* Mummies (see Pseudevernia furfuracea)
* Rituals
* Magic
* Tobacco
* Narcotics
* Hallucinogens (see Dictyonema)
* Dyes
* Medicine
* Embalming
* Food