Iceland Moss

Cetraria islandica


Habitat: Grows in most Northern Countries.

Part used: The entire plant. It is a lichen.

Collection: The lichen may be gathered throughout the year, though between May and September is perhaps best. It should be freed from attached impurities and dried in the sun or the shade.


  • Lichen acids (depsidones);
    mainly fumarprotocetraric, protocetraric, cetraric, protolichesteric, lichesteric and usnic acids

  • Polysaccharides, about 50%; mainly lichenin and isolichenin

  • Miscellaneous; furan derivatives, fatty acid lactones and terpenes.

Actions: Demulcent, anti-inflammatory, anti-emetic, expectorant.

Indications: As a soothing demulcent with its high mucilage content, Iceland Moss finds use in the treatment of gastritis, vomiting and dyspepsia. It is often used in respiratory catarrh and bronchitis, soothing mucous membranes. Its nourishing qualities contribute to the treatment of cachexia, a state of malnourishment & debility. King’s Dispensatory describes it as ” demulcent, tonic and nutritious. Excessive doses may induce nausea and looseness of the bowels, while ordinary doses improves the appetite, digestion and general nutrition. Constipation is not produced by it, and the circulation is unaffected. Its nutritive qualities are undoubtedly due to its starch. The bitterness of cetrarin may be detected in the nursing mother’s milk. Used as a demulcent in chronic catarrhs, chronic dysentary and diarrhoea, and as a tonic in dyspepsia, convalescence and exhausting diseases. Boiled with milk it forms an excellent nutritive and tonic inphthis is and general debility. It relieves the cough of chronicbronchitis.

Combinations: For the treatment or nausea and vomiting, it can be combined with Black Horehound.

Preparations and dosage: Decoction: put l teaspoonful of the shredded moss in a cup of cold water, boil for 3 minutes and let stand for l0 minutes. A cup should be drunk morning and evening. Tincture: take l-2 ml of the tincture three times a day.

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Written by David L. Hoffmann BSc Hons MNIMH

Explore Wellness in 2021