Botanical: Cetraria islandica
Family: Lichene (lichen) - Parmeliaceae (Iceland Moss)
Other common names: Icelandic Moss, Celand Moss, Iceland Lichen, Consumption Moss, Cetraria, Eryngo-leaved Liverworth
Iceland Moss is an age-old remedy for all kinds of respiratory ailments, including sore throat, bronchitis, tuberculosis and dry, non-productive coughs. It is a highly nutritious tonic that helps invalids, children and the elderly. Its antiviral, antioxidant and antibiotic properties combat food poisoning and infection, and may help in the management of many serious illnesses. By the way, Iceland Moss is not a moss at all; it is a lichen and can ease many digestive problems as well.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Iceland Moss, despite its name, is really not a moss at all, but a lichen, consisting of two types of plants (a fungus and an alga). The alga's cells work in close combination with, and are entangled in, the threads of the fungus, forming a scaly growth and living together in a mutually beneficial symbiosis. It is a bittersweet, cooling, antibiotic herb that grows on barren stone ground and tree trunks in cool, damp places in Europe, Great Britain, Iceland and the northern parts of North America and Asia. It rarely fructifies, but the thallus (or body of the plant) is erect, much curled and highly branched with spiny edges. The plant varies in division, in size (generally two to four inches), and in color (from olive green to grayish white and sometimes flecked with red). It is collected wild and propagates on the barks of trees and rocks on an acid substratum, and it must have clean air to thrive. Centuries ago, Iceland Moss became known as a cure for all kinds of respiratory ailments, a use still valid and popular today, with extracts added to antiseptics and lozenges for dry coughs and sore throats. Some early research holds exciting and promising new uses for Iceland Moss in the areas of combating serious malignant infection. Several constituents in Iceland Moss include about seventy percent lichen starch, a little sugar, fumaric acid, oxalic acid, cetrarin, licheno-stearic acid, carbohydrates, bitters, many vitamins and minerals and a high mucilage content.
The primary and age-old use for Iceland Moss has been to treat all kinds of respiratory ailments, and it is still esteemed as an exceptional herbal expectorant, helping to expel mucus from the lungs and easing non-productive, dry coughs, as well as the discharge that accompanies colds and sinusitis. Its high mucilage content makes it a fine demulcent that helps to soothe the irritated mucous membranes of the respiratory system and relieves hoarseness and the inflammation of chronic bronchitis, consumptive lung ailments and tuberculosis. The herb is sometimes given for advanced tuberculosis, since it acts to dissolve mucous congestion and hinders the growth of the tubercle bacillus .
The high mucilage-like substance in Iceland Moss also soothes the irritated mucous membranes of the digestive system (and is very effective anywhere mucous membranes are irritated) and helps calm the stomach in cases of vomiting and nausea. Working to soothe the digestive tract, Iceland Moss is also helpful in alleviating such digestive disturbances as gastroenteritis, indigestion, upset stomach, dyspepsia and heartburn.
Iceland Moss is a nutritive with great food value. It makes a superior tonic for convalescents; and the carbohydrates nourish children, invalids and aged persons who tend to be lacking in strength or are anemic. The herb also contains "bitters," which are said to stimulate the appetite and has thus been helpful in working with anorexic conditions.
Iceland Moss possesses antibiotic and antimicrobial properties. As an antibiotic herb, its lichen acid content has been effective in fighting dysentery and food poisoning, combating organisms such as Salmonella species, Trichomonas vaginalis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the rod-shaped bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB).
Iceland Moss is considered a "galactagogue" and has thus been used to stimulate lactation and promote the flow of milk in nursing mothers.
Externally, Iceland Moss has been used to relieve boils, impetigo and vaginal discharge.
Iceland Moss has demonstrated antiviral properties and may be helpful in combating HIV infection, and early research shows promising effects as an antioxidant, which may be effective in building the body's defenses against cellular damage caused by foreign infectious attack.
Iceland Moss Herbal Supplement should not be used in excessive doses (many times the recommended amounts) nor for prolonged periods of time, as it may cause gastrointestinal irritation, diarrhea or liver problems.