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Blue flag (Iris versicolor)

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • American blue flag, beta-sitosterol fatty acids, blue flag iris, clajeux (French), dagger flower, dragon flavonoids, flower, flag lilly, flag lily, fleur-de-lis (French), flower-de-luce (French), furfural, gum, harlequin blueflag, Iridaceae (family), iridin, irigenin, irilone-4'-glucoside, Iris caroliniana Watson, Iris versicolor, iris versicolore (French), irisin, irisolone-4'-bioside, isoflavonoids, isophthalic acid, kosatec strakat (Slovak), Lis met Bontkleurige Bloem (Dutch), liver lily, oleoresin, phytosterols, poison flag, purple flag, resin, salicylic acid, sciatica, snake lily, starch, sugars, tannin, triterpenoids, water flag, water iris, wild iris.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Blue flag is a species of iris, which commonly grows in moist meadows, marshes, and along stream banks in northern North America. The root or rhizome is the part most often used and is the source of the iridin, also known as irisin. Iridin is usually used as a powdered extract that is bitter and nauseating and has diuretic and laxative properties.
  • The blue flag rhizome has a very slight but peculiar odor, and a pungent, unpleasant taste. When used internally, fresh blue flag produces nausea, vomiting, purging, and gastrointestinal cramping. The dried root is less acrid and is traditionally employed as an emetic, diuretic, and cathartic. It has also been used for syphilis, some scrofula (tuberculosis infection of the neck lymph glands), skin disorders, and dropsy (edema).
  • Currently, blue flag is frequently used topically for skin conditions, such as impetigo, eczema, and psoriasis. It is also used for detoxification by increasing urination, stimulating bile production, and acting as a laxative.
  • There are currently no high quality studies on the medicinal applications of blue flag. Clinical trials are needed to define the efficacy and safety of blue flag.

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.