Iceland Moss

Other Name(s):

Centraria, Cetraria islandica, Eryngo-leaved Liverwort, Iceland Lichen, Lichen d'Islande, Lichen Islandicus, Liquen de Islandia, Mousse d'Islande, Musgo de Islandia.


Iceland moss is a lichen. Lichens consist of algae and fungus growing together in a mutually helpful relationship. Lichens draw their nutrients from the environment and are easily contaminated. They grow well in Iceland because it is one of the least polluted countries in the world. Most of the lichens in Europe were contaminated by the fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident, but Iceland received much less radioactivity, and the lichens were relatively safe.

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.

Some people apply Iceland moss directly to poorly healing wounds.

In foods, Iceland moss is used as an emergency food source in Iceland.

In manufacturing, Iceland moss is used as a flavoring in alcoholic beverages.

How does it work?

Iceland moss seems to have a soothing action. It might also reduce the growth of bacteria.

Uses & Effectiveness

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Dry cough.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Common cold.
  • Bronchitis.
  • Indigestion.
  • Fevers.
  • Lung disease.
  • Kidney and bladder problems.
  • Irritation or swelling (inflammation) of the mouth or throat.
  • Wound healing, when applied to the skin.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of Iceland moss for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


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Side Effects

Iceland moss seems safe for most people when taken short-term. It is UNSAFE when used in large amounts, because the dried plant can be contaminated with lead.

Iceland moss is regulated in the United States, and is allowed only as a flavoring agent in alcoholic beverages.

Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It might be UNSAFE to take Iceland moss during pregnancy. The concern is that Iceland moss can become contaminated with lead, and this can be harmful to the mother and unborn child.

Ulcers in the stomach or small intestine: Iceland moss can irritate the lining of the digestive tract. Don't take it if you have stomach or intestinal ulcers.


Medications taken by mouth (Oral drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Iceland moss contains a type of soft fiber called mucilage. Mucilage can decrease how much medicine the body absorbs. Taking Iceland moss at the same time you take medications by mouth can decrease the effectiveness of your medication. To prevent this interaction take Iceland moss at least one hour after medications you take by mouth.


The appropriate dose of Iceland moss depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for Iceland moss. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.


Fetrow CW, Avila JR. Professional's Handbook of Complementary & Alternative Medicines. 1st ed. Springhouse, PA: Springhouse Corp., 1999.

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