A Well Kept Secret: Icelandic Moss
An intro to Icelandic Moss.
Whenever I get a chance to travel to new places, I like to pick up local botanical products. When I landed in Iceland, I knew I had to get my hands on some Icelandic moss. A peculiar want, Icelandic moss is what I consider a well-kept secret.
Icelandic Moss (Cetraria islandica (L.) Ach.), known as fjallagrös in Iceland, is a lichen that grows on the lava slopes and otherworldly plains of Iceland. With Iceland’s harsh climate, it’s hard to find medicinal plants that naturally grow on the terrain. However, because lichens draw their nutrients from the environment, and Iceland is one of the least polluted countries in the world, Icelandic Moss is very happy there. Because it absorbs nutrients from its’ environment, it is chockfull of helpful properties. It contains lichenin, which is a chemical with antiviral properties that is soothing to irritated mucous membranes, polysaccharides, which are thought to be medicinal, and usnic acid, which is thought to provide a protective effect against harmful bacteria. It also has B1 and B12 vitamins. It is most famously used for lung-related problems and has been used as a cough remedy in Europe for centuries. In regards to beauty, lichenin and polysaccharides re-hydrate by forming a protective film around the skin. This could be promising in regards to anti-aging. Also, because it is a glycerol (a soap base), it is also used in the soap industry and in cold creams. Its’ anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties make it a rare, but promising, skincare element.
I’m working on a skin lotion that uses Icelandic moss powder now. Hopefully I’ll get a recipe over to you soon, but in the meantime feast your eyes on some pretty photos: