Orris Root
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Orris Root ORRIS ROOT  
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Botanical:  Iris germanica  (also known as Iris florentina and Iris pallida)
Family:  Iridaceae (iris)

Other common names:  Iris, Flag Iris, Flower de Luce, German (or) Florentine (or) Dalmatian Iris,

Pale Iris, Fleur-de-lis, Sweet Iris

Orris Root is the dried root of the beautiful and fragrant iris.  Aside from its value in perfumes, lotions and potpourris, Orris Root has a long history as a powerful diuretic that was used to alleviate excess water retention problems and edema.  It is also considered a powerful laxative and expectorant and an old-time treatment for lung problems, including bronchitis, dry cough and excess mucus.

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.

Orris Root is the dried root of one species of the beautiful iris, a highly decorative flower that is a native of the eastern Mediterranean region, extending into northern India and northern Africa and now growing mainly as an ornamental throughout Europe and North America. The rhizomes, or roots, are cultivated in southern Europe for medicinal purposes, mostly on mountain slopes, and are derived from three species of iris (I. germanica - German iris), I. florentina - Florentine iris and I. pallida - Dalmatian or pale iris). The iris is typically an erect, basal plant with bluish-green, sword-like leaves with flowers (which vary according to the species) of pale blue, violet or white, and resembling the fleur-de-lis.  The plant thrives in well-drained, neutral-to-alkaline soil in full sun; and the beautiful, violet scent of the root intensifies as it ages and dries. The iris is named after the rainbow goddess, Iris, because of the beauty and variety of colors in the flowers of the genus. In ancient times, it was the symbol of power and majesty and is the origin of the royal scepter, with the three leaves typifying faith, wisdom and valor.  The importance of the dried root of the iris (Rhizoma iridis)  was recorded in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome for its fragrance and inclusion in unguents, and it remains an important component in herbal medicine and indispensable as a fixative in the perfume industry today. The thirteenth-century writer, Petrus de Crescentiro, of Bologna, mentions the cultivation of irises and advises about the optimum season for collecting the roots for medicinal use. In North America, another species of iris (I. versicolor) was one of the most widely used medicinal plants among Native Americans.  The Creeks valued it so highly that they cultivated it near their villages.  Blue Flag (a wild iris variety) was listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia from 1820 through 1895 as an emetic and purgative. In addition to its importance today in herbal medicine and in perfumery, Orris Root is also used as a flavoring in candies, an ingredient in dental preparations as a breath freshener and gum strengthener, in dusting powders and in potpourris.  Some of the constituents included in Orris Root are volatile oil (called oil of orris, also known commercially as orris butter, and includes irone, a liquid ketone, which gives the herb its violet scent that intensifies as the root dries and ages), myristic acid, fat, resin, starch, mucilage, a bitter extractive and a glucoside named iridin.

Beneficial Uses:
Orris Root is known as a diuretic, which promotes the flow of urine from the body.  It is thought to be helpful in cases of water retention problems and has been used to relieve dropsy and edema (fluid retention in the body that causes swelling and discomfort).  The root has also been thought to clear the liver of congestion.

As an expectorant, Orris Root has been used for centuries for complaints of the lungs, helping to loosen and expel phlegm and excess mucus and ease bronchitis, hoarseness, dry cough and sore throat.

Orris Root is a soothing aromatic herb that has been called a "stomachic," or agent that gives strength and tone to the stomach, helps to stimulate digestion and improve the appetite. Orris Root is also said to relieve colic.

As a purgative, dried Orris Root is known as a strong cathartic, which acts to promote bowel movement and implies a stronger action than a typical laxative.

Orris Root is considered an emetic, a substance that produces vomiting; and, in fact, large doses will cause nausea and vomiting.

Orris Root Herbal Supplement should not be used with prescription diuretic medicines.  Large amounts (many times the recommended dosage) will cause nausea, vomiting, purging and colic.

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