blueflag Blue flag

Blue flag | Iris versicolor

general characteristics

general characteristics

Common names include blue flag iris, water flag, flag lily, poison flag, blue iris, snake lily. Member of the iris family, Iridaceae.

 

Blue flag is a native perennial iris of North America, growing in damp meadows and grasslands, along streams and waterways and marshes. It can grow up to around 3 feet high and has beautiful violet blue flowers in the summer, tinged with yellow and white and long sword like flat leaves.

The rhizome (the part used medicinally) creeps horizontally and throws up new flowering plants as it wanders.

 

Blue flag root in both its dried form and tincture are available to buy in our herbal shop.

 

 

 

 

 

 


harvesting and preparation

harvesting and preparation

 

The root/rhizome is harvested from plants that are at least a year old and used dried not fresh, as it can be very irritating to the digestive system (when taken internally) and the skin (may produce contact dermatitis). They are gathered in autumn then washed, chopped into smaller pieces and dried out thoroughly before storing in an airtight jar for future use.

 

If you see blue flag growing near a golf course in America, do not harvest the roots....they are known to absorb very large quantities of herbicides, insecticides and fungicides and other such chemicals and store them away in their roots. They are purposefully planted for this reason (around some courses anyway) to reduce the hazardous effects on the waterways from the 'run off' of the thousands of tonnes of chemicals used to keep American golf courses so artificially 'weed' free.

 

 

 Blue flag root in both its dried form and tincture are available to buy in our herbal shop.

 

 

 

 

 

 


therapeutic actions and uses

therapeutic actions and uses

 
Blue flag root is a powerful blood and lymphatic cleanser with a strong stimulating and purifying action on the liver and gallbladder and therefore the whole body. Whenever the body is overburdened with illness, stagnation and congestion, when the excretory organs are over-worked and under functioning, the blood stream is full of wastes and toxins and chronic disease or autoimmune disorders have a grip then blue flag may well be the herb to make a profound difference. By clearing and detoxifying the body, it can ultimately help to improve overall immunity.
 
Its stimulating moving and clearing action on the liver and gallbladder makes it suitable in cases such as chronic hepatitis, jaundice, fatty liver, constipation,  it helps with the digestion of fats and has been linked to a reduction in obesity in animals, enlarged or congested spleen, general feelings of toxicity, pancreatitis, hypoglycaemia. Blue flag has potent effects on the entire digestive system and organs, stimulating all secretions and acting as a kind of digestive flush.
 
The cleansing and clearing action also applies to cases of appendicitis.
 
It stimulates the salivary glands so can help to remedy a dry mouth and halitosis and bad breath.
 
Blue flag may be a useful component in a formula for migraines and frontal headaches, especially when related to liver problems or constipation.
 
Thyroid enlargement, goitre. Blue flag detoxifies mercury from the body and mercury from the thyroid especially. The thyroid gland is particularly susceptible to damage from environmental toxins. The root is stimulating to the thyroid so can help in underactive thyroid but can also have a balancing effect when thyroid output is too high.
 
It clears obstructions in the lymph nodes ('glands') and glandular system making it applicable in glandular fever and swollen glands or lymph nodes, tonsillitis, breast lumps (and any sore or swollen area around the lymph nodes, often running in a line from the lymph node clusters such as under the armpits and around the groin), mastitis, sinus congestion and catarrh, syphilis and other venereal diseases and tuberculosis.
 
It is also useful for so called autoimmune disorders such as rheumatism or certain thyroid disorders.
 
Has had successes in the treatment of malaria.
 
Boils, cysts, abscesses and other chronic skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, impetigo, dermatitis, acne and spots and leg ulcers (especially when the root is simmered and used as a poultice) can all benefit from blue flag. It will help to improve overall skin complexion.
 
It has been used historically by native Americans for blood poisoning arising from wounds or injuries as well as for bruising and swelling.
 
Medicinal actions include cathartic (strong laxative), diuretic, anti-inflammatory, alterative (tends to restore normality and good health), cholagogue (stimulates bile flow), emetic (produces vomiting) in large doses and anti-emetic in small doses (i.e a few drops).
 
This is a link to an excellent article on the current and historic medicinal uses of blue flag root.

 

 


dosage and cautions

dosage and cautions

*Avoid in pregnancy and breast feeding unless under close supervision of an experienced herbalist.
*Blue flag is a powerful herb and is often feared by some, including herbalists, as it can be toxic in larger medicinal doses. However, it can be used in very small doses with good effect also, just a few drops in water 3 times daily or as part of a formula. I have often used it, on myself and others, in normal doses with no ill effects whatsoever.

* Larger doses (above the doses stated here) can be quite toxic and be drastically purgative causing evacuation of the bowels, gastro-intestinal irritation and vomiting. This can be useful in certain circumstances such as after ingesting a poison for example.

 

* Blue flag is often combined with other blood cleansers/alteratives such as dandelion root, burdock root, yellow dock root, red clover and echinacea root in chronic skin conditions, joint disease, some cancers and for deep detoxification.

Adult 

 

Tincture of root: 2-4 ml, up to 3 times daily. Start with a few drops 3 times daily in water initially and watch for results until increasing to normal doses.

Dried root as a decoction: 1/2 - 1 teaspoon per cup, 3 times daily. Simmer the teaspoon of herb in just over a mug full of water for 15-20 mins, strain off the liquid and drink.

 


Children

Add 12 to the child’s age. Divide the child’s age by the total.
E.g. dosage for a 4 year old...... 4 {age} divided by 16 {age + 12} = . 25  or 1/4 of the adult dosage.
*Avoid using in younger children (under 12 perhaps).
 
 

 

 

 

 

 


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