The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

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Iceland Moss

Scientific Names

Iceland Moss

  • Cetraria islandica L.
  • Parmeliaceae

Common Names

  • Chondrus crispus
  • Eryngo-leaved liverwort
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    Parts Usually Used

    The herb
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    Description of Plant(s) and
    Culture

    Iceland moss is a foliaceous lichen; the thallus, or body of the plant, is branched and erect or spreading, reaching a height of 2-3 inches. It varies in color from olive-green to grayish-white and is sometimes flecked with red.
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    Where Found

    Found in cool, damp places in Europe, Great Britain, Iceland, and the northern parts of North America and Asia.
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    Medicinal Properties

    Anti-emetic, demulcent, expectorant, galactagogue, mucilaginous, nutritive, tonic
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    Biochemical Information

    Mucins (mainly lichenin), bitter fumaric acids, some iodine, cetrarin, uncrystalized sugar, gum, green wax with potash and phosphate of lime, about 70% lichen starch, vitamin A
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    Legends, Myths and Stories

    The English common name “Iceland Moss” is botanically incorrect. This plant is not a moss at all, but a lichen, a symbiosis (mutually beneficial relationship) made up of a fungus and an alga. The name has been used as long as the plant has been in medicinal use; since the 17th century.

    Iceland moss is a tough lichen that grows upon the cold stones, and feeds from the damp air. It offers a valuable food for Icelanders and Greenlanders because of its rich starch content. Natives boil the lichen in broth or dry it in cakes and use it as bread. A gruel is made by mixing the lichen with milk. An ounce off Iceland moss boiled for 1/4 hour in a pint of milk or water will yield 7 oz. of thick mucilage. Before using Iceland moss, it is generally soaked in cold water for several hours, after which the water is strained off and thrown away. The lichen may be again dried or used at once as desired.

    Iceland moss may be taken in powder, syrup or mixed with chocolate.

    Jelly is made as follows: Boil 4 oz. of the lichen in 1 qt. water; then add the juice of 2 lemons and a bit of rind, with 4 oz. of sugar. Boil up and remove the scum from the surface. Strain the jelly through a muslin bag into a basin and set it aside to become cold. It may be eaten this way, but it is better when eaten warm.
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    Uses

    The tea is used for respiratory catarrh, flu, gastroenteritis, dysentery, anemia, and regulation of gastric acid. It serves to stimulate the flow of milk but should not be used if the breasts or nipples are inflamed. Useful for coughs, hoarseness, and bronchitis; used as a blood tonic. Sometimes it is given for tuberculosis, since it acts to dissolve mucous congestion and hinders the growth of the tubercle bacillus. The plant makes a nourishing food, but it must be boiled for a long time to make it palatable.
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    Formulas or Dosages

    Gather in dry weather from May to September.

    Decoction: boil 1 tsp. herb in 1/2 cup water for an extended period, adding more water if necessary. Take 1-2 cups per day.

    Double tea: add 1 tsp. herb to 1/2 cup cold water and let stand overnight, then warm slightly and strain. Put the soaked herb in cold water and let stand all day; in the evening, bring quickly to a boil and strain. Drink each tea, a mouthful at a time, after it is made. It may be flavored with sugar, lemon peel, honey, or aromatics.

    Iceland moss is a bitter with soothing mucilaginous properties. As a mucilage it may be made by covering a handful of the moss with 1 pint to 1 quart of boiling water; let stand 2-3 hours; strain and sweeten with honey or molasses, adding a little lemon juice or a bit of peel. Use freely.
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    Nutrient Content

    Vitamin A
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    Warning

    Use in excessive doses or for prolonged periods can cause gastrointestinal irritation and liver problems. Use for specific symptoms; do not take it for more than 2 weeks at a time.

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    Bibliography

    Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

    Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

    Buy It! The Healing Plants, by Mannfried Pahlow, Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. 250 Wireless Blvd., Hauppauge, NY 11788, 1992

    Buy It! Earl Mindell’s Herb Bible, by Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., Simon & Schuster/Fireside, Rockefeller Center 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020

    Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

    Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

    Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

    Buy It! Old Ways Rediscovered, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, published from 1954, print 1988

    Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

    Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

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