Icelandic Moss

Iceland moss is used for treating irritation of the mouth and throat, loss of appetite, common cold, dry cough, bronchitis, indigestion, fevers, lung disease, kidney and bladder complaints, and the tendency toward infection.

Constituents include about 50% water-soluble polysaccharides, including lichenin, a linear cellulose-like polymer of b-D-glucose, and isolichenin, a linear starch-like polymer of a-D-glucose (Wichtl and Bisset, 1994). Iceland moss also contains galactomannans and an acidic, branched polysaccharide containing D-glucose and D-glucuronic acid units. Other constituents include bitter-tasting lichen acids, including the depsidones fumarprotocetraric acid and protocetraric acid, and the aliphatic lactone protolichesterinic acid (ESCOP, 1997).

The Commission E reported soothing and mildly antimicrobial acitivities. The polysaccharides are thought to form a soothing, protective, mucilaginous layer on the mucosa of the upper respiratory tract. Significant immunostimulating activity was shown in an in vitro study on an alkali-soluble galactomannan isolated from Iceland moss (ESCOP, 1997).

The Commission E approved Iceland moss to treat irritation of the oral and pharyngeal mucous membranes and accompanying dry cough, and loss of appetite. In an open clinical trial, 100 patients with pharyngitis, laryngitis, or bronchial ailments were treated with lozenges containing 160 mg of an aqueous extract of Iceland moss. The results were determined to be positive in 86 cases with good gastric tolerance and lack of side effects (ESCOP, 1997).

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