Iceland Moss

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  • Botanical: Cetraria islandica
  • Family: Parmeliaceae
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Iceland Moss


Cetraria islandica



Known as

Isländisches Moos, Islandmoos, Irisches Moos, Lichen Islandicus, Blutlungenmoos, Fiebermoos, Hirschhornflechte, Graupen

Old Use

medicine, culinary

Collection Times

throughout the year

Parts Used



abdominal pain, antiseptic, asthma, bronchitis, bowel cleansing, bronchitis, cancer, coughs, diarrhea, digestion, difficulty breathing, gastrointestinal, laxative, indigestion, sore throat, ulcers, vaginitis, gynecological issues

Hormone & Sexual Organs


Respiratory System

asthma, bronchitis, catarrh, colds, cough, difficulty breathing, pharyngitis, pertussis, respiratory

Stomach & Intestinal

abdominal pain, diarrhea, digestion, gastrointestinal, laxative, indigestion


digestive, galactagogue


It is often of a pale chestnut color, but varies considerably, being sometimes almost entirely greyish-white; and grows to a height of from 3 to 4 in., the branches being channelled or rolled into tubes, which end in flattened lobes with fringed edges.

Properties & Uses

Iceland moss has been used since ancient times as a cough remedy and has also been used in European folk medicine as a cancer treatment. In present day herbalism it is highly prized for its strongly antibiotic and demulcent actions, being used especially to soothe the mucous membranes of the chest, to counter catarrh and calm dry and paroxysmal coughs - it is particularly helpful as a treatment for elderly people. Iceland moss has both a demulcent and a bitter tonic effect within the gut - a combination almost unique amongst medicinal herbs. The whole plant is strongly antibiotic, antiemetic, strongly demulcent, galactogogue, nutritive and tonic. It is excellent when used internally in the treatment of chronic pulmonary problems, catarrh, dysentery, chronic digestive disturbances (including irritable bowel syndrome and food poisoning) and advanced tuberculosis[4, 254]. Externally, it is used in the treatment of boils, vaginal discharges and impetigo. The plant can be harvested as required throughout the year[7], preferably during dry weather, and can also be dried for later use. Use with caution. Cetraria islandica is used for cough & bronchitis, dyspepsia, inflammation of mouth and pharynx, loss of appetite.

Other Uses

Used as disinfectant and dye.

A powerful antibiotic can be obtained from the plant and this has become a fundamental ingredient in a wide range of commercially produced disinfectants.

A brown dye is obtained from the plant


Indigestion and nausea with large doses. Rare liver damage. Herb bitterness possible in breast milk


It grows abundantly in the mountainous regions of northern countries, and it is specially characteristic of the lava slopes and plains of the west and north of Iceland. It is found on the mountains of north Wales, northern England, Scotland and south-west Ireland. In North America its range extends through Arctic regions, from Alaska to Newfoundland, and south in the Rocky Mountains to Colorado, and to the Appalachian Mountains of New England.


It contains about 70% of lichenin or lichen-starch, a body isomeric with common starch, but without structure. It also yields a peculiar modification of chlorophyll (called thallochlor), fumaric acid, lichenostearic acid, and cetraric acid (which gives it the bitter taste). It forms a nutritious and easily digested amylaceous food, being used in place of starch in some preparations of cocoa. It also contains lichesterinic acid and protolichesterinic acids.

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For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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