Icelandic lung (Icelandic lichen, Iceland moss, Cetraria islandica) is the only lichen found in the European Pharmacopoeia and Polish Pharmacopoeia. The raw material has also been approved by the European Commission - according to its recommendations, preparations from Icelandic lichen can be used mainly in diseases of the upper respiratory tract, with excessive dryness, irritation of the throat mucosa, larynx and dry cough.
The comprehensive pharmacological action of the Icelandic lung is influenced by the presence of lichenins, isolichenins, hemicellulose, mucus, mineral salts and organic acids, for which antimicrobial, protective, coating and moisturizing mucous membranes as well as antitussive and expectorant have been confirmed.
Icelandic lung (Cetraria islandica (L.) Ach.) Is a lichen of the genus lung, which occurs in almost all latitudes; most often in the boreal and temperate part of the northern hemisphere.
Icelandic lichen is classified as plechowców, that is, multicellular organisms whose body is not differentiated into tissues and organs. They are distinguished by dualistic nature: they are mushrooms that live in symbiosis with photosynthesizing algae. Lichens have the ability to produce compounds with a chemical structure characteristic of the world of algae or fungi, but not found in the world of higher plants.
The wide spectrum of pulmonary thallus activity results from the presence of specialized plant metabolites belonging to various chemical classes that determine its pharmacological activity. The Icelandic moss has monographs in the current editions of the European Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Eur. 9th) and Polish (FP XI).
Iceland moss is a raw material used for centuries. The first mention of it is in the works of the Renaissance botanist, Valerius Cordus. Preparations with Icelandic lichen are widely used in folk and traditional medicine, but also have a well-established position in conventional medicine. The most popular are syrups and lozenges successfully used to treat inflammation of the throat, relieve dry cough and hoarseness.
The pharmaceutical raw material is the dried throat of the Icelandic shield (Lichen islandicus). The key ingredients of the raw material include:
Pulmonary thallus contains large amounts of fumaroprotocetraric acid with strong antioxidant and bacteriostatic (inhibiting bacterial growth and development) effects. The bacteriostasis phenomenon is also a result of protocetraric acid (on Salmonellatyphi strains). Among lichen acids, fumaric acid with immunomodulatory (dominating the immune system and regulating the immune response) dominates, used to treat psoriasis.
Protolichesteric acid is one of the best known and studied compounds contained in Icelandic pulmonary disease. It inhibits the growth of Helicobacter pylori colonies; is also effective against strains:
Icelandic lichen extracts, due to the content of mucous substances, have been used for years to treat diseases of the upper respiratory tract with associated dryness and irritation of the throat, larynx and bronchi. In this case, the moisturizing and protective properties of the extract of Cetraria islandica (and its effectiveness) have been confirmed in clinical studies (on humans).
Mucous polysaccharides coat the mucosa of the upper respiratory tract and gastrointestinal tract with a protective layer. Shielding and covering properties mainly show lichenin and isolichenin, which isolate the mucosa from damaging factors.
Preparations with Iceland moss reduce irritation of cough receptors, reduce the number of cough reflexes, support mucosal regeneration and reduce inflammation. Icelandic lichen extracts soothe hoarseness and dryness associated with air conditioning. Due to anti-inflammatory properties, they are recommended after intubation and ENT surgery.
Lichen acids also have an expectorant and mucolytic effect (they dilute secretions in the respiratory tract and facilitate expectoration).
Icelandic pulmonary preparations are considered safe (most are available without a prescription as OTC drugs or dietary supplements). It should be borne in mind that the active substances present in Cetraria islandica preparations may modulate the absorption of drugs. In some cases, Icelandic thyroid aromatic compounds may contribute to contact allergies or phototoxic reactions.
There are no data on the safety of using Cetraria islandica extracts in pregnant women and nursing mothers. Therefore, according to generally accepted principles, during pregnancy and lactation, preparations with Icelandic lichen are used only for medical indications.