Iceland Moss is a perennial. The upper part of the foliage of the lichen is olive brown or brown gray and shiny, while the underside – green gray. The lower part of the foliage is reddish. Plant has fruits arranged along the sides of the foliage. The fruits are dark brown and shaped like shield. The color and size of the plant depends upon the light and other environmental factors.
Iceland Moss can be found growing in poor sandy soil in coniferous and mixed forests. The herb can be collected during entire summer. However, the best time to collect the plant is June and July. You should hand-pick it and remove sand, needles and other adulterations. There are other lichen species, which can be used for medical purposes. These species are Usnea barbata, Parmelia furfuraea, Evernia sp. and Cladonia sp. and they grow hanging from trees. They are used to produce various compound remedies industrially, as well.
- Foliage is rich in various polysaccharides produced by fungi and algae the lichen contains. These polysaccharides are lichenin, isolichenin, pustulan and some unknown substance, and usually are referred to as lichen starch. In addition, the plant contains lichen acid, 2 percent bitter fumar protocetraric acid, 0.1-1.5 percent protolichesterin acid, protocetraric acid, cetraric acid and usnic acid, which accumulates the most during winter. The herb is proven to contain proteins, vitamin B, ascorbic acid, 4-4.5 percent lipids, sterols, carotenoids, 1-2 percent mineral substances and other biologically active substances.
- The active substances the herb contains possess bactericidal, antiseptic, emollient, wound healing and body strengthening properties. Polysaccharides lichenin, pustulan and isolichenin stimulate immunity and increase protection ability of your organism. They have positive effect on natural nonspecific immunity and prevent sarcoma from growing in experimental animals. Some fungal polysaccharides have citotoxic effect on cells of certain organs.
- Usnic acid and fumar protocetraric acid have bactericidal action, and improve the performance of stomach, intestinal canal and liver. They have positive effect on vegetative nervous system and stimulate cardiovascular regulatory center.
- Pharmaceutical companies produce various remedies containing active substances or foliage of Iceland Moss. These remedies are used to treat hoarseness, inflammation of upper airways, bronchitis, pharyngolaryngitis, tracheitis, trophic ulcer, pulmonary emphysema, bronchial asthma, varicose ulcer, burn, traumatic ostemyelitis and erosion of cervix uteri.
- Lasting consumption of the herb, as well as, consumption of large quantities of it might lead to liver disorders, and irritation of stomach and intestine.