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Orris as an Herb

Orris as an herb

Iris germanica

Other names: Iris, Florentine Orris, White Flag Root, Blue Flag, Flag Lily, Liver Lily, Poison Flag, Snake Lily, Water Flag, Wild Iris, Yellow Flag, Yellow Iris, Dragon Flower, Myrtle Flower, Fliggers, Flaggon, Sheggs, Segg, Daggers, Jacob's Sword, Gladyne

The orris is a group of two species of European iris. Orris is cultivated near Florence, Italy, and sold as "ghiaggiuolo."

In drying, Orris acquires a delicate but distinct odor much like that of a Violet.

Orris appears in the market in the form of contorted sticks and knobby pieces up to 4 inches in length, with a compact chalky appearance. Orris is principally powdered for use in dentifrices and other dry, scented preparations.

Dried orris root is used primarily as a base for natural toothpastes, and as a fixative in perfumes to enhance other aromas.

If chewed fresh, orris root has a "pucker up" quality similar to lemons.

Orris root lends a pleasant scent to freshly laundered linens and to potpourri. It also can be used as a snuff to relieve sinus headache and as a stabilizer in cosmetics.

Orris as an Herb for Medicinal Uses

Orris oil made from the orris root is used in cosmetics and perfumes. It was used to treat bad breath and to treat water retention. It is a common ingredient in dry shampoos, bath powders and talcum powders.

The flavonoids contained in orris root are known for anti-inflammatory activity, which explains the herb's traditional use as a remedy for sore throats and colds.

Orris root is mildly diuretic; it was traditionally used to treat "dropsy" or congestive heart failure. Orris root that is stored in powdered form is more useful as a diuretic, while orris root that is stored in a chopped form is more useful as an anti-inflammatory.

Used as a fixative in potpourri as well as in herb pillows for its fragrance.

Home Made Chamomile and Orris Baby Powder

Home made baby powder 2 tablespoons crumbled dried chamomile flowers
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon orris root
12 teaspoon alum

In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Store in flour shakers or old dusting powder boxes. Do not use on a baby's diaper rash. Yield: 1/2 cup.

Home Made Toothpaste

1/4 cup each arrowroot, powdered orris root and water
1/2 teaspoon each oil of cinnamon and oil of cloves
1 teaspoon ground sage

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. If the paste is too thick, add more water until the desired consistency is reached. Use as needed. Store at room temperature in a tightly covered jar. Yield: 1/2 cup.

Home Made Dry Shampoo

To avoid staining the rug, apply over the sink or bathtub.

2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 tablespoon ground almonds
1-1/2 tablespoons orris root

Combine all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Massage 1 teaspoon into the scalp, then brush through the hair. Repeat the process if necessary.

Culinary Uses of Orris

Unknown

Folklore

Used in love, protection and divination "spells" and sachets. Carry the root, or sprinkle your house and body with orris root powder to attract love.

Used in sachets to find and hold love and protection.

Cautions

No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages.

If wished to be used internally, it is recommended to be done so under the care of someone experienced with the use of this herb. The juice of the fresh plant has a severely irritating effect upon skin and mucous membranes. If taken internally, it can lead to vomiting, abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea. Severe inflammation occurs following mucous membrane contact.

Not to be used during pregnancy.

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