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Cetraria islandica (Parmeliaceae)

ICELAND MOSS, CETRARIA

 

This grey-brown or olive lichen of the cold north is given by herbalists to soothe the stomach, relieve vomiting, and help disperse phlegm. It is also included in proprietary cough medicines.

 

Despite its common name, this moss is a lichen, growing on stony, barren ground in high latitudes such as northern Europe, Iceland, the North American tundra, and even Antarctica. It contains up to 70 per cent "lichen starch" and has long been used as an emergency food in desolate places. A branched and curly perennial plant, it is grey-brown or olive on top and paler with tiny white spots underneath.

 

PARTS USED

Whole lichen.

 

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS

Bitter acids, including cetraric, fumarprotocetraric, and lichesteric; mucilaginous polysaccharides, including isolichenin and lichenin.

 

ACTIONS

Expectorant; soothes internal body surfaces; suppresses nausea and vomiting; antibiotic; nutritive.

 

MEDICINAL USE

Given for gastritis (stomach inflammation), indigestion with vomiting, catarrh, and bronchitis.

 

PREPARATIONS

Decoction, cold infusion, tincture, tablets, in proprietary cough medicines.

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