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Blue Flag Herb - Dosage and Useful Properties

Alternative Names: Dagger Flower, Dragon Flower, Flay Lily, Flower De-Luce, Liver Lily, Poison Flag, Snake Lily, Water Flag, Wild Iris.

Common Trade Names

Iridin, Irisin

Common Forms of Blue Flag

Liquid extract: 0.5 to 1 fluid dram (2.5 to 5 ml)

Powdered root: 20 grains (1,300 mg)

Solid extract: 10 to 15 grains (650 to 975 mg)

Tincture: 1 to 3 fluid drams (5 to 15 ml)

Source for Blue Flag

The rhizome of Iris versicolor yields iridin and an oleoresin. I. versicolor is a perennial herb found abundantly in swamps and low-lying areas throughout eastern and central North America.

Chemical Components of Blue Flag

The rhizome contains starch, gum, tannin, 25% acrid resinous matter, 0.025% furfural (a volatile oil), 0.002% isophthalic acid, traces of salicylic acid, lauric acid, stearic acid, palmitic acid, and I-triacontanol. Other constituents include beta-sitosterol, iridin, and iriversical. A number of substances contained in the rhizome are unidentified.

Actions

Little is known about the phytochemical, therapeutic, or toxicologic properties of blue flag and its components. The acute oral toxicity for furfural is 127 mg/kg. The root is claimed to possess anti-inflammatory, dermatologic, diuretic, and laxative properties. The commercial products Iridin and Irisin are powdered root extracts with diuretic and intestinal stimulant properties.

Uses and Benefits for Blue Flag

Blue flag was used by Native Americans as a cathartic and an emetic. It has been called the liver lily because of its purported ability to cure hepatic diseases. Externally, the poulticed root was used as an anti­inflammatory on sores and bruises. Powdered root preparations have been used as diuretics and intestinal stimulants.

Dosage to be taken for maximum Benefits:

Available data on dosages relate to use of blue flag as a cathartic.

Liquid extract, tinctures: 0.5 to 3 fluid drams P.O.

Solid extract, powdered root: 10 to 20 grains P.O.

Adverse Reactions or Side Effects

CNS: headache.

GI: nausea, vomiting.

Hepatic: hepatotoxicity (caused by tannin content).

Skin: mucous membrane irritation (caused by furfural component).

Herb Interactions

None reported till yet.

Contraindications And Precautions to be kept in mind

Blue flag is contraindicated in pregnant or breast-feeding patients; effects are unknown.

Special Considerations

  1. Advise the patient to avoid taking blue flag internally.
  2. Inform the patient that contact of this herb with eyes, nose, or mouth causes severe irritation.
  3. Caution parents to keep all parts of this plant out of the reach of children.
  4. Advise women to avoid using blue flag during pregnancy or when breast-feeding.

Points of Interest

The fresh rhizome emits a slight, peculiar odor and has a pungent, acrid taste.

The rhizome of versicolor is an official pharmaceutical ingredient in the USP.

When not in bloom, blue flag can easily be mistaken for sweet flag (Acorus calamus).

Commentary

Blue flag is a known intestinal irritant and may be dangerous in some conditions; therefore, its use cannot be recommended. The fact that little is known about the phytochemical and toxicologic properties of blue flag and its constituents indicates that this herb is best avoided until further information is available.

   

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