Botanical Name:Iris versicolor
Species: I. versicolor
Common Names:Orris Root, Blue Lily, Iris, Florentine Orris, White Flag Root, Flag Lily, Liver Lily, Poison Flag, Poison Lily, Snake Lily, Water Flag, Wild Iris, Yellow Flag, Yellow Iris, Dragon Flower, Myrtle Flower, Fliggers, Flaggon, Sheggs, Segg, Daggers, Jacob’s Sword, Gladyne, Fleur-de-lis
Parts Used: Rhizome & Root
Habitat:Native to North America, blue flag also grows throughout the British Isles. It prefers damp and marshy areas in the wild, but it is often cultivated as a garden plant.
A perennial herb, it grows to about three feet with erect stems, sword-shaped leaves, and two to three resplendent blue to violet, iris-like flowers per stem. The flower petals are long with a pleasant aroma. The fruit is a large capsule with a number of sections in which the brown seeds are lined up like a roll of coins. The rhizome is thick and short and unearthed in autumn.
Stems grow in clusters from the base, usually single or double-branched, and can be from less than a foot tall to over 3 feet. Leaves are sword-like or blade-like. Flowers are on an elongated stem that usually rises above the leaves. Six-petaled iris-like flowers (actually 3 petals and 3 sepals) can be bluish-purple to violet in blue flag to white, yellow, or copper-colored in other iris species. Flowers are fragrant. Irises have shallow roots and can spread from the roots.
Submerged portions of all aquatic plants provide habitats for many micro and macro invertebrates. These invertebrates in turn are used as food by fish and other wildlife species.
Blue flag was a popular medicinal plant with Native Americans, who used it as an emetic, cathartic, and diuretic, to treat wounds and sores, and for colds, earaches, and cholera. The plant was considered helpful in treating liver problems and used for this purpose by the Hudson Bay Cree and the Delaware.
The plant was listed in the US Pharmacopoeia from 1820 to 1895.
In the Anglo-American Physiomedicalist tradition, it was used as a glandular and liver remedy.
In times past, the chemicals found in the root were inhaled in liquid form to clear the brain of “phlegmatic humours”.
Constituents: Blue flag contains triterpenoids, salicylic and isophthalic acids, a very small amount of volatile oil, starch, resin, an oleo-resin, and tannins.
Medicinal Uses:It is bile stimulant, diuretic, detoxifies, mild laxative,mild expectorant, relieves nausea and vomiting.
The alkaloids in the rhizome can stimulate heart activity and seem to have a purifying action in the blood, but the rhizome should not be used by the inexperienced.
Blue flag has also been known as the liver lily, because its dried and powdered rhizomes were traditionally believed to be an excellent remedy for impurities of the blood and diseases of the liver. Its many other uses in folk medicine included the treatment of skin diseases, rheumatism, and even syphilis. No one, however, prized blue flag more than American Indians, some of whom regarded it as a virtual panacea. One of their uses for it, not adopted by the white man, was as a poultice for treating sores and bruises. Certain tribes are said to have planted blue flag near their villages to ensure a convenient supply.
Blue flag is currently used mainly to detoxify the body. Blue flag increases urination and bile production, and has a mild laxative effect. This combination of cleansing action makes it a useful herb for chronic skin diseases such as acne and eczema, especially where gallbladder problems or constipation contribute to the condition. Blue flag is also given for biliousness and indigestion. In small doses, blue flag relieves nausea and vomiting. However, in large doses blue flag will itself cause vomiting. The traditional use of blue flag for gland problems persists. Blue flag is also believed by some to aid weight loss.
Doses:Decoction: put 1/2 – 1 teaspoonful of the dried herb into a cup of water and bring to the boil. Let it simmer for 10 – 15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.
Tincture: take 2 – 4ml of the tincture three times a day.
Other medical uses:
The herb is used mainly for disorders of the respiratory system, but homeopathic uses include the thyroid gland and for digestion and headaches.
It increases urination and bile production, as well as being a mild laxative. This combination makes a good cleansing agent, in combination with other herbs, for such chronic skin diseases as acne or eczema, especially where gallbladder problems or constipation contribute to the condition.
In small doses, it relieves nausea and vomiting but in large doses, blue flag will cause vomiting.
It is believed by some to aid in weight loss.
Topically, an infusion of blue flag leaves can be used to treat skin sores and burns.
Cautions:The rhizomes of blue flag can be dangerously toxic, as is indicated by one of its other names, poison flag.
*Excessive doses can cause vomiting.
*Do not take during pregnancy.
*It may cause contact dermatitis in sensitive individuals.
Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.