Traditionally Iceland moss was considered a galactagogue and to have strong antibiotic, antiemetic, strongly demulcent and nutritive properties. Iceland moss has been principally recommended in chronic pulmonary and digestive conditions, particularly phthisis ( a wasting condition also known as pulmonary tuberculosis), dyspepsia, and chronic diarrhea. Cetraria islandica is understood to have both a bitter tonic action and a demulcent effect within the gut, a combination almost unique amongst medicinal herbs.

The medicinal properties may have been first known to the natives of Iceland; according to Borrichius, the Danish apothecaries were acquainted with the medicinal applications of Iceland moss in 1673.

Other Common Names: Iceland lichen, eryngo-leaved liverwort, Islaendisch Moos (German), Islandslav (Swedish), mousse d’ Islande, lichen d’Islande (French), liquén de Islandia (Spanish), puklérka Islandská (Czech), Islanninjäkälä (Finnish), erba rissa, Lichene Islandico (Italian), and fjallagras (Icelandic).

Preparation / Dosage

Icelandic Moss tea is made by pouring 1 cup of boiling water over 1–2 tsp of powdered Iceland Moss. The mixture is covered and steeped for 10–15 minutes. Natural sweetener can be added to the tea.

In ancient times, the herb was a traditional herbal cough remedy, and had been used in European folk medicine as a cancer treatment.

Iceland moss contains up to 70 percent starch and historically had been used as an emergency food in desolate places. Historically it was widely used in bread, porridges, and soups.

Traditionally in Northern Europe, the powdered lichen was used as a thickener in soups.

It is highly prized by the contemporary herbalist as a useful antibiotic and demulcent. Traditionally it was used to soothe the mucous membranes of the chest, to treat chronic pulmonary problems, to counter catarrh and to calm dry and paroxysmal coughs and as a relief for advanced tuberculosis.

The mucilage properties of this herb provide a natural treatment for the oral and pharyngeal membranes. Its bitter organic tonic action may stimulate the appetite and promote gastric secretion.

Iceland moss is rich in mucilages and its soothing action is useful for conditions such as gastritis, gastric ulcer, hiatus hernia, and reflux esophagitis.

It is thought to be a useful herbal treatment when used internally in the treatment of dysentery, chronic digestive disturbances (including irritable bowel syndrome and food poisoning).

Cetraria islandica was traditionally used for relief of vomiting arising from irritation and inflammation of the stomach. It may be a useful herbal remedy for low-grade stomach infections seen when there is low stomach acid production.

It is used as a remedy for the effects of excess stomach acid secretion and it is thought to be a natural treatment for conditions such as malnourishment, debility, and anorexia.

Iceland moss has been traditionally used in cases that require nutritious and easily digested nourishment that will not upset the stomach. Ordinary doses improve the appetite, digestion and general nutrition.

The herb is used as a surface application to treat boils, vaginal discharges, and impetigo.


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