The healing power of American blue iris

The American iris is originally only found in North America and likes to grow in meadows, swamps and along the waterfront. In some parts of Europe, such as southern Germany, the plant has gone wild. It is also called blue Iris, after its blue-purple color. It is a perennial plant that can grow to about 80 centimeters in height and does well as an ornamental plant. The plant is inedible and even the sap from the stem can cause a skin rash, but the American iris still has medicinal qualities. It is mainly used to purify the blood and to treat swollen lymph nodes. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Irises / Source: Quebec government, Wikimedia Commons (CC0)


  • Naming
  • Use by the Indians
  • An official medicine
  • Active substances
  • Iris versicolor in skin diseases
  • Iris versicolor for the lymph nodes
  • Iris versicolor removes toxins
  • External use iris versicolor
  • Dose and safety


The Latin name of American iris is Iris versicolor . In Dutch the plant is also called American blue iris, American blue iris, Beardless iris and Violet herb.

Use by the Indians

The American iris is a poisonous plant. The Indians, the original inhabitants of America, used this plant to induce vomiting and to accelerate the removal of feces from the body. These are reactions of the body when coming into contact with a toxin but it can be used medicinally if one has eaten something else poisonous; then vomiting out quickly is potentially a life-saving action. The Indians used a paste from the root of this iris externally to treat ulcers, for example on the leg. The root was also boiled and a leg was washed with the cooking liquid to get rid of ulcers.

An official medicine

The American iris is currently registered as an official medicine in the United States Pharmacopoeia. It is an important source for making a diuretic. The glycoside iridine is the active substance in American iris. In addition to being a diuretic, this plant is used for scrofula, syphilis and skin irritations. In addition, the blue iris is a medicinal remedy in homeopathy. Below are the uses of this beautiful flower species in phytotherapy.

Active substances

For medicinal purposes, only the rhizome of American iris is used. This stick contains a lot of the glycoside iridine or irisin. That is the main active substance. It also contains essential oil such as fufural, the organic acids salicylic acid and isophtamic acid, lauric acid, phytosterols, resins and gum.

Iris versicolor in skin diseases

American blue iris is an alterative. That is, a blood purifier. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect. In phytotherapy, iris versicolor is used for these medicinal effects in the following indications:

  • Acne,
  • Eczema,
  • Psoriasis,
  • Herpes.

Iris versicolor for the lymph nodes

Iris stimulates the lymphatic system. The lymph node is not actually a gland but a storage place for white blood cells. White blood cells are cells that play an important role in the immune system. When inflammation occurs in the body, the nearby lymph nodes will swell. These swollen lymph nodes can be brought into balance with iris versicolor. In phytotherapy, the American blue iris is used for the following indications:

  • Poor lymphatic circulation
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Inflamed lymph nodes

Iris versicolor removes toxins

The American blue iris is bile-floating. By extension, it is a tonic for the liver; it improves liver function. Because more bile is available to the liver, the liver can perform its function better. In addition, it has a diuretic, laxative and diaphoretic effect. This will cause toxins to leave the body faster. For these medicinal reasons, iris versicolor is used as a herbal medicine for the following indications:

  • Constipation
  • Skin diseases due to liver disorders
  • Cleansing treatments
  • Rheumatic conditions

External use iris versicolor

In addition to the above-mentioned internal applications, there are a number of indications for which iris versicolor can be used externally. A decoction of the roots, as the Indians did it, can be used as a wrap or the skin can be used with it

Irises / Source: Dlanglois, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

be washed. It is used for:

  • Rheumatic pains
  • Bruises
  • Wounds
  • Skin diseases

Dose and safety

Below are three different ways to take the therapeutic dose.

  • Take a decoction of 0.5 to 2 grams or 1 teaspoon three times a day and let it simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  • 1 ml tincture 1:5, 40% three times a day.
  • 0.6ml to 2ml of liquid extract (1:1 in 45%) three times a day.

If consumed in excess, fresh orris root can lead to nausea, vomiting, cramps, colic, and a strong urge to have a bowel movement. It should definitely not be taken if there are disorders of the stomach and intestinal mucous membranes. It should not be taken during pregnancy. The fresh root can irritate the skin.