Cetraria islandica

Other Names: Iceland Lichen, Cetraria. Eryngo-Leaved Liverwort

Iceland Moss is a common plant that reaches a maximum height of around 4-inches and grows in northern countries and in the mountains of warmer countries.

Iceland Moss is a lichen. A lichen is algae and fungus growing together in a symbiotic relationship.

Iceland Moss contains water-soluble polysaccharides (lichenin and isolechenin), galactomannans, glucans, lichenolic acids and aliphatic lichen acid.

Iceland Moss as an Herb for Medicinal Uses

Iceland MossThe medicinal part is the dried thalius commonly known as Iceland Moss. Iceland Moss tastes bitter, and when wet, has a smell reminiscent of seaweed.

Iceland moss has been used for centuries to treat most respiratory ailments. Iceland Moss is also used to nourish the weak, elderly, and weakly children.

This is a strongly antibiotic herb that is a cooling expectorant. It soothes irritated tissues and controls vomiting. The bitter organic acids have an antibiotic effect. It is also a demulcent and a mild antimicrobial.

Extracts of this herb are also added to throat lozenges to ease a dry cough and soothe a sore throat.

Iceland Moss is used internally to treat gastroenteritis, food poisoning, tuberculosis and bronchitis, as well as for loss of appetite. It is often used in cough medication.

Externally, Iceland Moss is used for vaginal discharge, boils and impetigo and is also used on slow healing wounds.

Approved by Commission E:

  • Cough or bronchitis
  • Dyspeptic complaints
  • Inflammation of the mouth and pharynx
  • Loss of appetite

Culinary Uses of Iceland Moss

Iceland Moss is dried and ground into flour to make bread, gelled and mixed with lemon, sugar, chocolate or almonds to make confections.

Ground, it can be mixed with chocolate or cocoa.


Iceland Moss must be powdered and soaked in lye or filtered through ash in order to extricate lichen acids.

Studies have shown that poorly prepared Iceland moss can contain toxic levels of lead but no health hazards or side effects are known in conjuction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages.

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