Icelandic Lichen, what it is and its benefits

However, the medicinal efficacy of some types of plants is well known. The most ancient information dates back to the use of medicinal plants by the Egyptians, but it was in classical Greece that the art of healing with plant species took shape, especially thanks to Hippocrates and, subsequently, in the Roman world herbal medicine became a real science.

Among the countless plant species most used today we find the Icelandic Lichen.

The Icelandic lichen (or Cetraria islandica) is a fruticose terricolous lichen typical of mountain areas which, in particular, is found widely in Iceland and its name probably derives from this.

It is made up of about 70% of lichenin and isolichenin polysaccharides and for the rest of folic acid, usnic acid (which gives the plant an antimicrobial and antiseptic activity), cetraric acid, which gives it a bitter taste, and vitamins of the group B.

Icelandic lichen has been used since ancient times as a bitter, anti-emetic and anti-anemic tonic. Its expectorant, stimulating, anti-catarrhal and antispasmodic properties are also known.

Precisely for these characteristics, Iceland Lichen is useful in irritative states of the gastrointestinal system and in acute catarrhal affections; it is also used in the preparation of toothpastes, detergent solutions, but also as a mild emergency disinfectant on sores and wounds, thanks to its purifying, deodorant and disinfectant action.

In Northern European countries it is also a popular remedy used in case of debilitating convalescents or to combat diseases of the respiratory system such as catarrh, cough or asthma.

However, the soothing, antiseptic, purifying, healing properties of Icelandic lichen make it particularly suitable for oily and acne-prone skin, greasy hair, dandruff, irritations and also favor its use in cosmetics, especially as an ingredient in acne preparations. , or to make bubble baths, shampoos, lotions, face creams, deodorants or foot products.

It is usually brown in color, but some specimens have color variations ranging from light to very dark gray. The harvest takes place in the months of March / April and September / October, on dry days, when the dew has disappeared, by removing it by hand from the trunks of the trees, from the ground or from the trunks on which it grows; then it is placed on trellises, in the shade and in well-ventilated rooms. It is stored in paper or canvas bags and retains its properties for up to two years.

Thanks to its diffusion, especially in the Nordic countries, it is easily available in herbalist shops and also lends itself to a very simple use, so to speak "home": in fact, it is possible to prepare a hot bath by pouring a handful enclosed in a gauze tied to a bag. in the water and benefit from the emollient and purifying action of the same.

Dr. Noemi Longo