- Family Parmeliaceae
- Cetraria islandica
- Iceland Lichen, Islandiches Moos, Comsumption Moss, Cetraria, Eryngo-leavened Liverwort
- None listed.
Native to the northern and alpine areas of Europe, this yellow-green lichen grows in undulating, leathery tufts up to three inches across. It flourishes in sub-Artctic and mountainous regions of the Northern Hemisphere and in some regions of the Southern Hemisphere on rocks and tree bark, especially that of conifers. It is harvested throughout the year in the wild, air-dried, moistened, cut, and redried.
Iceland moss has been used since ancient times as a cough remedy. It is one of forty species of Cetraria and used almost exclusively in the treatment of chest and bronchial ailments. Rich in mucilagens, it is added to several commercial cough remedies.
An old Danish proverb states that no harm will come from taking a poison if a handful of Iceland Moss is eaten.
It has also been used in European folk medicine as a treatment for cancer.
Iceland Moss is used as a food by deer and caribou, as well as by Icelanders, Norweigians, Laplanders, and Canadian Indians.
- bitter tonic
- lichen acids (including usnic acid)
- polysaccharides (about 50%)
- Dried whole plant.
- Usnic acid and other lichen acids are powerful antibiotics.
- Lichenine is a glutinous, starchy mucilagen which forms a protective barrier around inflamed tissue.
Iceland moss has both a demulcent and a bitter tonic effect, a combination that is most unique in medicinal herbs. Therefore, it is of value for all types of chronic digestive problems, including irritable bowel syndrome, as well as for all types of coughs and inflammations of the mouth and pharynx. It soothes the mucous membranes of the chest, counters congestion, and calms dry and paroxysmal coughs, which is particularly helpful in the elderly.
It is used externally on poorly healing wounds.
In homeopathic medicine, it is used to treat bronchitis.
It also expels worms and could prove useful for certain digestive infections caused by parasites.