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Iris (Iris versicolor)

iris-versicolor.jpg

Iris Summary

Iris is a misunderstood herb in many circles. It contains a set of constituents that are known to trigger nausea and vomiting — however, somewhat ironically, iris is also considered useful for treating nausea.

This herb has mild laxative qualities — thought to be due to a combination between its potent bitter constituents stimulating the flow of bile from the liver and gallbladder, and an ability to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. It's especially active on the liver, where it's used to treat poor digestion, liver dysfunction, and to treat skin conditions.

Other species sometimes used includes Iris caroliniana & Iris virginica.

 

+ Indications

  • Diabetes
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Eczema
  • Endometriosis
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Hypertriglyceridemia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Lymphadenopathy
  • Pancreatic dysfunctions
  • Poor digestion
  • Psoriasis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Skin conditions
  • Supporting weight loss
  • Urinary tract infections

+ Contraindications

  • Avoid high doses
  • Mucus membrane irritation (IBS, IBD, etc)
  • Diarrhea

+ Mechanisms

  • Thought to stimulate parasympathetic nervous system
  • Iridin thought to induce laxative action due to irritating properties on mucus membranes

Herbal Actions:

  • Bitter
  • Pancreatic trophorestorative
  • Alterative
  • Antinflammatory
  • Astringent
  • Lymphatic
  • Hepatic
  • Laxative (mild)
  • Diuretic
  • Choleretic
  • Cholagogue
 

What is Iris Used For?

Iris is used to treat skin conditions through the liver by improving elimination pathways and preventing excessive elimination and irritation through the skin. It's useful for acne, psoriasis, eczema, and rashes.

Other common uses of iris is for urinary tract infection, hypothyroidism, lymphadenopathy, and menstrual irregularities.

 

Herb Details: Iris

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Root/Rhizomee

Family Name

  • Iridaceae

Distribution

  • North America

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Constituents of Interest

  • Furfural
  • Irisin
  • Salicylic Acid
  • Oleo-resin, beta-sitosterols
  • Beta-sitosterols

Common Names

  • Iris
  • Blue Flag
  • Sweet Flag
  • Poison Flag
  • Harlequin Blueflag

Pregnancy

Avoid using iris while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Duration of Use

  • Avoid long-term use in therapeutic doses.
 

Botanical Info:

Iris is native to North America and is common around marshes, streams, and lakes.

The Iridaceae family is named after the irises and refers to the rainbow due to the many colors of iris flowers. This family contains 66 different genera and approximately 2244 different species. Some of the other famous members of this family include Crocus spp. and Gladioli spp.

 

Clinical Applications of Iris

Iris has recently seen a peak in interest in the past few years, however, is still not a commonly used herb due to the presence of significant side effects. Iris is contraindicated in anything but small doses due to the mucous membrane irritant and nauseating side effects.

In small doses iris is useful for stimulating bile secretion, promoting movement in the bowels, stimulating the pancreas, and treating skin conditions arising from liver congestion.

 

Cautions:

Some of the constituents in fresh iris root can cause a burning sensation in the mouth and throat along with diarrhea and abdominal burning. It's considered an emetic, and mucus membrane irritant in higher doses. Use cautiously and only in smaller doses.

 

Author:

Justin Cooke, BHSc

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated May 2019)

 

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