The great Greek physician, pharmacologist, botanist, and author Pedanius Dioscorides devoted a long paragraph in the first chapter of his De Materia Medica on the virtues of the iris plant. Andres de Laguna (16th century) translated the works of Dioscorides into Spanish and commented on them, remarks on its multiple properties, such as that of “wonderfully purging the brain when its juice is taken through the nose.” Some years later, the iris was forgotten; however, recently, its virtues have been extolled again.
Healing Properties and Indications
Its root contains 50 percent starch, mucilage, and a very aromatic essential oil that gives the plant its peculiar violet aroma. When fresh, the rhizome of the iris plant is a strong purgative but not so intense when dry. It is also used in several bronchial medicines due to its notable expectorant and antitussive properties. It is also a diuretic.
Iris Plant Scientific Facts
- Other names: Orris root.
- French: Iris, flambe
- Spanish: Lirio.
- Environment: Native to southern Europe but naturalized on the whole continent. It is farmed throughout Europe and some American countries.
- Description: Vivacious plant of the Iridaceae family, with a straight stem of 50 to 80 cm high, at whose tip grow attractive, purple flowers. The rhizome is very thick.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: The rhizome (underground stem) when dried.
How to use Iris
- Decoction with five to 20 g of dry rhizome powder per liter of water, boiling for ten minutes, then drinking two or three cups a day.
White Iris Plant
Besides the common iris, the white iris plant is another species of the botanical family. Spread all along the Mediterranean coast and the Canary Islands; its properties are similar to those of the common iris. There is also another variety of iris in Mediterranean areas, the pale iris (Iris pallida Lam.), whose flowers are light blue. Both the composition and properties of all three species are similar.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. Vols. 1 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 315. Print.