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Common Name: Blueflag | Scientific Name: Iris Versicolor

Family Name: Iridaceae


Blue flag is a tonic plant that was very popular with the Eclectic physicians. Chronic disease, and especially chronic infections, were a big deal in their day. Without antibiotics, people live with TB and syphilis. This herb was used to stimulate the body to resist the chronic infection. Pretty interesting activity, if you ask me.


Chapter from My PhD Thesis
Notes from the Eclectic Physicians

Chapter from My PhD Thesis

Part Used:

Chemical Constituents:
Significant phytochemicals include iridin, phytosterols, resin, salicylic acid, and tannin. (13)

Iris versicolor was an important medicine amongst the American Tribes. Considered to be a strong medicine, it was used by the Cree, Montaignais, Chippewa, Seneca, Meskwaki, Ojibwe, Potawatami, Mohawk, and Tete de Boule. Externally, it was used in swellings, bruises, burns, sores, inflammation, and blood poisoning resulting from contusions. Internally, it was used to treat colds, sore throats, lung troubles and as a drastic purgative/cathartic. If the tribe did not have the drug growing in their immediate vicinity, they either planted some in a nearby pond or built an artificial pond to cultivate a supply. Its popularity amongst the Native people resulted in the Colonials learning of it early in their stay in North America . In 1749 the Colonials were using the drug to treat leg sores and other slow healing wounds. Raffinesque, writing in 1830 said that the drug was cathartic, diuretic, astringent, purgative, laxative, and pectoral. He lists syphilis, rabies, sore mouth ulcers, and wounds as effectively treated by the drug. When the medical establishment became enamoured with bleeding, purging, burning, and leaching disease out of patients, Iris versicolor became popular. A violent cathartic/purgative in large doses, the drug was used to makes patients very, very ill. (14)

Being opposed to the use of purgatives, the Eclectics experimented with the drug in small doses. In time, they discovered it could be used in minute doses without side effects and with substantial benefits. (1–12)

Eclectic Uses (1–12)

Alterative, anti-mercurial, anti-venereal, cathartic, diuretic, sialagogue, hydragogue, stimulant, astringent, cholagogue, resolvent, antidote to worms, stimulates glands to healthy and excited action, excites glandular system to discharge from their respective orifices, direct stimulant to waste and excretion, influences lymphatic system, acts on the gastro-intestinal canal, glandular, and nervous systems, powerfully excites salivary, biliary, and pancreatic secretions, stimulates waste and repair, powerful catalytic action on lymphatic system, stimulates the glandular system, lymphatics, skin, salivary glands, upper intestinal tract, ductless glands, liver, pancreas, skin, and kidneys included.

“This agent will prove serviceable when the stools are clay-colored, the urine scanty and the skin inactive and jaundiced. In small doses it is indicated in irritable conditions of the mucous membranes of the digestive tract, with altered secretion. This condition is characterized by a neuralgic pain over one eye, or involving one side of the face, usually the right side; nausea or vomiting of an acid liquid, with burning and distress in the esophagus or stomach; gastralgia and gastrodynia, with vomiting or regurgitation of food, especially after the eating of fats or rich pastry; diarrhoea, with a burning sensation after the passage; cholera morbus, with violent pain around the umbilicus, or in the lower part of the abdomen, and watery diarrhoea with great depression.” (12)

Tuberculosis, systemic tuberculosis, syphilis, primary, secondary or tertiary, chronic rheumatism, watery effusions (dropsy, anasarca, hydrothorax, ascites, hydropericardium), mercurio-syphilis, bad blood, poor nutrition, cachectic states of the body, mercurial cachexia, disordered states of the glandular system, syphiloid affections, secondary syphilis with cerebral disturbances and copper colored dermal pigmentation, malaria, malarial jaundice, intermittent and remittent fevers, bilious remittent fevers, chronic ague, malarial disorders, syphilitic or wasting conditions with glandular inactivity.

Leucocythemia, splenic enlargements.

Chronic affections of the liver, spleen, dyspepsia, tapeworm, constipation, chronic hepatic affections, chronic hepatitis, hepatic disorders, chronic disease of the pancreas with sodden lead coloured tongue, gastrointestinal irritation, biliousness, bilious headache, nausea, vomiting of bitter ingesta, sick headache dependent upon indigestion, constipation and sharp cutting pains increased by motion, duodenal catarrh, jaundice, clay coloured stools indicating lack of biliary action, constipation dependent upon biliary or intestinal torpor, gastric irritation, cholera infantum, cholera morbus, diarrhoea, dysentery with large slimy evacuations, sickness of the stomach, vomiting, gastralgia, apthous states of the oral cavity, reflex muscular pains dependent upon gastro-intestinal and pancreatic disorders, especially of the muscular coats of the viscera, affections of the gastrointestinal mucous membrane, irritation thereof, neuralgic pains of dyspeptic patients reflected to the pectoral muscles and head, stomatitis, burning of the mouth and fauces, colic, chronic jaundice from catarrhal conditions of the duodenum or obstruction of the bile ducts.

Enlargement of the thyroid gland, fullness of the thyroid gland, enlarged thyroid due to menstrual irregularities, thyroid gland soft and yielding to pressure, goitre, exopthalmia, fullness of the thyroid body associated with wrong menstruation, Addison’ disease, Addison’ disease of the suprarenal capsule.

Chronic affections of the kidneys, dropsy, gonorrhoea, leucorrhea, dysmenorrhoea, ovarian and uterine enlargements, ulcerated os uteri, acute and chronic uterine irregularities, uterine and ovarian irregularities associated with impaired general health, mental depression, and abnormal pigmentation, spermatorrhea, prostatorrhea, prostatic discharges, nocturnal emissions, male gland abnormalities associated with mental uneasiness, debility, and irritation of the nervous centres.

Enlargement of the lymph glands.

Rheumatism, chronic rheumatism, syphilitic rheumatism, muscular pain, muscular pain when reflexive from pancreatic and duodenal problems, subscapular distress, rheumatism with gastric debility or pancreatic debility.

Syphilitic iritis.

Pectoral pains, unpleasant sensations under the scapula.

Chronic skin disease, diseases involving the sebaceous glands, comedomes, eruptions common to youth, rough, greasy, discoloured conditions of the skin, pustular eruptions associated with functional disturbances of the reproductive tract, skin disease associated with thyroid abnormalities of the female, syphilitic skin diseases, eczema rubrum of children, eczema of the scalp of adults, skin disease associated with decline in health, herpes zoster, herpes praeputialis, rupia, impetigo, persistent prurigo, psoriasis, acne indurato,oozing ulcers, pustular, open, ulcerating skin diseases, eczema of a persistent nature, crusta laca, tinea.

The drug from Selye’s perspective

State of Resistance
The drug was used to raise resistance to syphilis, tuberculosis, rheumatism, mercurio-syphilis, gonorrhoea, malaria, chronic skin disease (eczema, psoriasis), endocrine disease (thyroid, female/male reproductive), and kidney disease.

State of Exhaustion
The drug was used when resistance to disease could no longer be maintained and State of Exhaustion set in. Diseases causing State of Exhaustion treated with this drug included secondary syphilis and tertiary syphilis (syphilis having attained a systemic taint, secondary syphilis with cerebral deficits and dermal pigmentation abnormalities, syphilitic iritis, etc.), mercuriosyphilis, mercury poisoning, terminal malaria, and rheumatism with systemic manifestations. Signs of State of Exhaustion, remedied with the drug included skin disease associated with decline of health, cachectic states of the body, wasting conditions with glandular inactivity, gastric and endocrine disease with systemic manifestations, membrane permeability abnormalities (watery effusions, hydrothorax, ascites, anasarca), disordered states of the glandular system, temperature abnormalities, endocrine abnormalities, and Musculoskeletal abnormalities.

Adaptation Energy
From Selye’s perspective, the drug was used to augment the GAS, which suggests it increases adaptation energy. Evidence to this effect includes the following. The drug was used to raise resistance to infection and autoimmune disease. It was used to fortify the body against external forces (syphilis and tuberculosis) and internal forces (rheumatoid arthritis and chronic skin disease). It was used to raise resistance to mercury poisoning. It was used to bolster a patient having entered into State of Exhaustion and to treat the manifold signs of that state. Topically, the drug was used to stimulate healing in wounds, ulcers, burns, contusions, and sores.

Brekhman’s Adaptogen Criterion
An adaptogen should be innocuous and cause minimal disorders in the physiological functions of an organism.

The Eclectics saw the drug, in small doses, as innocuous. (1–12) Contemporary literature reports it is potentially dangerous but does not discuss the minute doses used by the Eclectics. (15)

The action of an adaptogen should be non-specific i.e. it should increase resistance to adverse influences of a wide range of factors of physical, chemical, and biological nature.

Clinically the drug was used to raise resistance to acute and chronic infection, autoimmune disease, and mercury poisoning. (1–12)

Experimentally, compounds found in the drug increase resistance to bacterial, viral, fungal, malaria, tinea, and HIV infection. They increase resistance to cancer, tumour formation, liver damage, and free radical damage. (13)

An adaptogen may possess normalising action irrespective of the direction of the foregoing pathological changes.

Clinically, the drug was used to normalise the physiological abnormalities associated with State of Exhaustion . (1–12)

Experimentally, compounds found in the drug have been shown to normalise, hypercholesterolemia, arthritis, inflammation, fever, rheumatic conditions, hyperglycaemia, diarrhoea, dysentery, ulcer formation, and hyper-immune activity. (13)

The drug exhibits properties consistent with Brekhman’s definition of an adaptogen. It is reported to be innocuous, it raises resistance to a wide assortment of biological threats, and it normalises physiological function.

Iris versicolor is interesting in several regards. When the Eclectics first worked with the drug, it was known as a potentially dangerous poison. Through trial and error, they discovered that when used in small doses it was safe and highly medicinal.

Its primary use was in treating the dread disease of the day, syphilis. At that time, syphilis was a disease that could not be cured. The best the Eclectics, or any other physician for that matter, could do was to manage the symptoms associated with the disease. The regular physicians used mercury. The Eclectics used Iris versicolor or vegetable mercury as they called it.

The Eclectics found the drug very helpful in raising resistance to syphilis, to treat patients facing syphilis caused constitutional collapse, and even to remedy patients recovering from mercury poisoning. A patient with tertiary syphilis and systemic mercury patient was a compromised patient. Even in this dire circumstance, the Eclectics found Iris could stimulate a return to vitality.

Potential Clinical Applications
The drug was seen as a powerful stimulant to resistance, in patients who still had resistance capacity and in those that had lost it entirely. The drug may be of use raising resistance to chronic infection and bolstering patients having entered into State of Exhaustion .

Future research
• Toxicity of small doses of Iris versicolor. The Eclectics insisted the drug was safe when used in small doses. This should be confirmed with a toxicological screen.
• Iris versicolor and its effects on the GAS. The drug should be tested out in the animal model to determine its specific effects on the GAS.
• Iris versicolor and State of Exhaustion . The drug was used when patients could no longer resist chronic infection. Its role raising resistance in HIV and Hepatitis C related State of Exhaustion should be examined.
• Iris versicolor and autoimmune disease. The drug was used when patients were no longer able to maintain resistance to autoimmune disease. (Rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, etc.) The drug should be examined for its ability to raise resistance to autoimmune disease.
• Iris versicolor and endocrine abnormalities. The drug was used to increase resistance to endocrine abnormalities causing systemic disease (hyperthyroidism, Addison’s disease, female and male reproductive abnormalities.) Its role in increasing resistance to these disease processes should be examined.

• King, John. The American Eclectic Dispensatory. Moore , Wilstach, and Keys. Cincinnati . 1854. P. 567.
• Dyer, D. The Eclectic Family Physician A scientific System of Medicine on Vegetable Principles Designed for Families. 1855.
• Scudder, J. M. Specific Medication and Specific Medicines. Revised. Fifth Edition. Wilstach, Baldwin and Company. Cincinnati . 1874.P. 162.
• Scudder, J. M. The American Eclectic Materia Medica and Therapeutics. Published by the Author. Cincinnati . 1883. P. 179.
• Watkins, Lyman. An Eclectic Compendium of The Practice of Medicine. John M.Scudder’s Sons. Cincinnati . 1895. P. 440.
• Felter, Harvey Wickes and Lloyd, John Uri. Kings’ American Dispensatory. Volume one and Volume two. Ohio Valley Company. Cincinnati . 1898. P. 1077.
• Webster, HT. Dynamical Therapeutics—A work devoted to the Theory and Practice of Specific Medication with special references to the newer remedies. Webster Medical Publishing Company. Oakland . Second Edition. 1898. P. 318, 358,523,549.
• Felter, Harvey. Syllabus of Eclectic Materia Medica and Therapeutics. Compiled from notes taken from the lectures of F.J.Locke. Edited with pharmacological additions by H.W.Felter. Second edition, with appendix. Scudder Brothers Company. Cincinnati.1901. P. 352.
• Peterson, F.J. Materia Medica and Clinical Therapeutics. Published by the Author. Los Olivos , California . 1905. P. 108.
• Neiderkorn, JS. A Handy Reference Book. Published for the Author. Cincinnati . 1905.P. 130.
• Fyfe, John William. Pocket Essentials of Modern Materia Medica and Therapeutics. The Scudder Brothers Company. 1903. P. 155.
• Ellingwood, Finley. American Materia Medica, Therapeutics, and Pharmacognosy. Ellingwood’s Therapeutist. Chicago . 1919. P. 312.
• Dr. Dukes Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases. Agricultural Research Service. USDA.
• Erichson-Brown, Charlotte . Medicinal and other uses of North American Plants. Dover Press. New York . 1979. P. 22–230.
• Foster, Stephen and Duke, James. Eastern and Central Medicinal Plants. Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston . 1977. P. 168.
• Lloyd Bros. Dose Book of Specific medicine. Lloyd Brothers Company. Cincinnati . 1907. P. 155.

Notes from the Eclectic Physicians

1749: Kalm fort Nicholson
Colonial lydius related how the indians make use of the iris root for sores on the legs.

Gunn: The root is the part used. It is a powerful and valuable alterative as an anti-mercurial and antiveneral remedy.. it is generally used to in combination with other alterative, to form a syrup or tincture. it is also cathartic and diuretic, an by some regarded as an antidote for worms. it is good in drops, and is also good in scrofula, syphilis, in chronic rheumatism, chronic affections of the liver, spleen, and kidneys, to be given in smaller doses , like mercury, it seems to act more specifically on the glands throughout the system, exciting them to a healthy and increased action, yet without any of the bad effects of mercury.

Properties and Uses -This is one among our most valuable medicinal plants, and is employed almost exclusively by Eclectics. It has been termed the Mercury of Eclectic practice, in consequence of the many indications it is capable of fulfilling. It is cathartic, alterative, sialagogue, vermifuge, and diuretic. In dropsy, it may be used alone in doses of ten grains of the powdered root every two hours, as a hydragogue, it may be combine with corn snakeroot, Eryngium Yuccefolium. In anasarc and hydrothorax, the saturated tincutre of the root, taken in teaspoonsful doses, every two or three hours, until its hydragogue influence is obtained, will be found serviceable; in some instances it may be be combined with an equal quantity of the saturated tincture of Euphorbia Ipecacuanha. In scrofula, and syphillis, whether primary or secondary, it acts as a powerful and efficacious agent, and may be used alone, or combined with mandrake, poke, back-cohosh, and other alteratives. In chronic, hepatic renal, and splenitic affections, five or ten grains of the powdered root, will be found very valuable. Equal parts of the blue flag root, mandrake root, and prickly-ash bark, combined, and given in doses of ten grains every two or three hours, to fall short of catharsis, will act as a powerful alterative, frequently causing a copious salivation without injury to the teeht or gums. In chronic rheumatism, mercurio-syphilis, dyspepsia, tapeworm, gonorrhea, leucorrhea, dysmenorrhea, and constipation, it has been used with positive advantage, either alone, or in combination with other agents. A writer says, ?The root of the Blue Flag extends its influence through every part of the system in small doses and repeated at short intervals; it seems to act more particularly on the glandular system, exciting them to a discharge of their respective offices; in large doses it evacuates and exhausts the system, acting on the liver, and the alimentary canal throughout’.

In Eclectic practice salivation is not, as a general rule, desired for the cure of disease, yet we have many articles which produce it, and often without the practictioner’s being aware of the fact, and hence, when it does occur, the cry is at once reaised that Eclectics use mercury. Salivation caused by vegetable agents may be known from that by mercury, by the absence of mercurial fetor, and no sponginess of the gums or loosening of the teeth. The dose of pulverised blue flag is from five to twenty grains; of the saturated tincture, from ten to sixty drops. In some persons, and when exhibited in large dose, it is apt to occasion much distressing nausea, with considerable prostration, these effects may be obviated or mitigated, by combining it with a few grains of capsicum or ginger, a grain of camphor, or four or five grains of caulophyllin.

There are several species of Irs as I Virginica, I Lacustris, etc, which probably posses similar properties, and which are often collected and mixed with the officinal article. The Iris Florentica, or Florentine Orris, is said to be emetic, cathartic, and diuretic, but is seldom employed, except in the composition of tooth-powders and to conceal an offensive breath.

1855; Dyer (Vegetable Principles) – IRIS VERSICOLOR – BLUE FLAG
Good as a purgative, but dangerous.

1874: Scudder
We find the Iris described in our Dispensatory as “among the most valuable of our medicinal plants,” “termed the mercury of Eclectic practice,” and yet I am safe in saying that there has not been a good article in the market for a dozen years. The dried root of the drug trade possesses no more medicinal property than sawdust, and preparations from it, whether in the form of fluid extract or Irisin, are an imposition.

We would prepare a tincture from the fresh root, using Alcohol of 76degree. There are two varieties of it, and that should be selected which present a bluish mottled color in incision.

When prepared as above, the Iris is one of our best remedies. It is directly stimulant to waste and excretion, and also influences the lymphatic system. It may, therefore, be employed in all diseases in which there is a bad blood, and imperfect nutrition. I regard it as one of our most certain remedies in the treatment of secondary syphilis.

It exerts a specific influence in cases of enlargement of the thyroid gland, and has effected cures in very severe cases. Here, as in other cases, we employ it uncombined, giving it internally, and using it as a local application. The dose of the tincture of Iris will vary from five drops to 3j.

1883: Scudder
The root of iris versicolor ‑ U.S. Preparation: Tincture of Iris. Dose: The dose of Iris will vary from the fraction of a drop to 3ss. For its specific use I add gtt. x. to gtt. xx., water 3iv.; dose one teaspoonful.

Therapeutic Action: The Iris is cathartic, emetic, diuretic, alterative, sialagogue, stimulant and astringent. As a cathartic, the recent root is active, and has been much used, especially in the South.

Dr Bigelow found it efficacious as a purgative, but the distressing nausea and prostration attending its operation, render it very unpleasant, unless combined with other agents to modify its action. Dr. Smith generally made use of the powder, giving it in twenty‑grain doses, repeating if necessary. He reports its operation as powerful, certain and quick, sometimes taking effect in half an hour; he has also seen it move the bowels when Jalap, Gamboge, and other strong purgatives, had no effect; he also used it alone in cases of tape‑worm with success.

Thacker states that the expressed juice of the recent root, given in quantities of sixty or eighty drops every hour or two, and occasionally increased, has produced copious evacuations after Jalap, Gamboge, and other strong purgatives had proved ineffectual. The Iris is an important alterative, and its superior value for this purpose is far from being duly appreciated by the great body of the medical profession.

In chronic hepatic affections, cachectic states of the system, mercurial cachexy, disordered states of the glandular system, syphiloid affections, etc., it is a favorite remedy. In the secondary or tertiary form of syphilis, after mercury in all its forms of administration had proven abortive, this agent has restored patients to perfect health. Specific Indications: Fullness of the thyroid gland is probably the most direct indications. Enlargement of the spleen, enlargement of the lymphatic glands, they being soft and yielding to pressure, are indications.

Specific Uses: It is the most certain remedy we have for enlargement of the thyroid, goiter, exophthalmia, and fullness of the thyroid body associated with wrong of menstruation. It is also a very valuable remedy in chronic disease of the pancreas with sodden lead colored tongue, and in scrofula and syphilis, with the condition of lymphatic glands named above.

1895: Watkins: In Rheumatism
SM iris: enlarged lymphatics, imperfect nutrition, gastro-intestinal irritatoin, skin pallid, syphilitic taint.

1895: Watkins: IRIS, SP MED:
Thyroid fullness, lymphatic enlargements, imperfect nutrition, syphilitic taint, rough, greasy, discolored skin, diarrhoea with sour watery discharges large stools, nausea and vomiting, burning sensation in mouth and throat. Ten drops to four ounces water; teaspoonful every two hours.

1898: Felter and Lloyd: IRIS (U.S.P.) – IRIS
Medical History – This plant was highly esteemed by our American Indians, who used it in gastric affections, and it was also a popular domestic remedy when it was thought necessary to produce salivation without resorting to mercurials – hence it is sometimes called “vegetable mercury.” Bigelow, Smith, and Thacher wrote regarding its cathartic properties, but on account of its unpleasant effects, when given in purgative doses, it did not come into general use until taken up by our school, where it is not used as a cathartic.

The blue flag is one of our most valued of early Eclectic medicines, having been used almost exclusively by our practitioners, until of late years, when it found quite a prominent place in the therapeutics of both Allopathic and Homoeopathic practice.

Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage – Physiologically, iris acts upon the gastro-intestinal canal, and the glandular and nervous systems. it powerfully excites the biliary, salivary, and pancreatic secretions. Upon the gastro-intestinal tract it acts violently, causing acid vomiting, frequent, hydragogue catharsis, with intestinal burning and severe colic. A writer says: “The root of the blue flag extends its influence through every part of the system in small doses, and repated at short intervals. It seems to act more particularly on the glandular system, exciting them to a discharge of their respective offices. In large doses it evacuates and exhausts the system, acting on the liver, and the alimentary canal throughout.” Animals, after death from its ingestion, show marked congestion of the gastric and intestinal tissues. By its action upon the nervous system, it has produced neuralgia of the face, head, and extremities. Iris salivates, but without injury to the gums an dteeth. In general practice salivation is not, as a common rule, desired for the cure of disease, yet we have many articles which porduce it, and often without the practitioners being aware of the fact, and hence, when it does occur, the cry is at once raised that mercury is used. Salivation caused by vegetable agents may be known from that by mercury, by the absence of mercurial fetor, and no sponginess of the gums or loosening of the teeth.

Therapeutically, this agent is alterative and cholagogue. It is one of our best agents to influence the process of waste and repair. It exerts a powerful catalytic action upon the lymphatic glandular system, and the ductless glands, as well as upon the liver, pancreas, an dkidneys. In cachetic states of the system, bad blood, scrofula, and “mercurial diseases,” it does excellent service, and in secondary syphilis, with cerebral disturbances, and copper-colored dermal pigmentation, it is one of the best drugs we possess.

Upon the liver, its action is marked. In that unpleasant condition known as “biliousness,” it is prompt and efficient, and as a remedy for bilious headache, accompanied by nausea and vomiting of bitter ingesta, or in sick headache, dependent upon indigestion, it is unsurpassed. In chronic hepatitis, and other hepatic disorders, with constipation, and sharp, cutting pains, increased by motion, iris may be given alone or may be advantageously combined with other hepatics. Duodenal catarrh, with jaundice, and clay-colored stools, indicating a lack of biliary secretion, is cured by iris, and it is likewise valuable in constipation, dependent upon biliary and intestinal torpor. Minute doses of iris allay gastric irritation, being valuable in cholera infantum and cholera morbus. R Specific iris, gtt. v; aqua, fl3iv. Mix. Dose, 1 teaspoonful every hour. In diarrhoea and dysentery, with large, slimy evacuations: R Specific iris, gtt. xv; aqua, fl3iv. Mix. Dose, 1 teaspoonful every hour. iris, in small doses, is often valuable in gastric irritation, associated with sickness at the stomach and vomiting, and in gastralgia. It is not without good results in burning aphthous states of the oral cavity. From 1 to 5 drops should be used in the latter case. Reflex muscular pains, dependent upon gastro-intestinal and pancreatic disorders, are relieved by it, and especially when the muscular coats of the viscera are involved. Pectoral pains an ddistressing sensations beneath the scapula are also relieved by iris in doses of from 1 to 5 drops.

Iris is specifically indicated in soft glandular enlargements. It is one of the very few reliable drugs used for the cure of goitre, or enlarged thyroid. Indeed, for this condition it is our most direct and effectual remedy, whether the enlargement be constant, or whether it be simply a fullness due to menstrual irregularities. This use was early pointed out by Prof. King. Further, it has a marked influence for good on the ovarian and uterine disturbances giving rise to this fullness. In goitre, apply a cotton cloth saturated with specific iris, and give internally a teaspoonful, 3 times a day, of a mixture of specific iris, fl3ss; aqua, fl3iv. Basedow’s disease – exophthalmic goitre – in the early stage, has been cured by iris; Addison’s disease of the suprarenal capsules has been greatly improved, though not cured by it. In chronic affections of the pancreas, with a sodden, leaden-colored tongue, and in chronic splenic disease, when the skin is blanched – as in leucocythemia- this drug is indicated. Chronic renal diseases, ascites, anasarca, hydrathorax, and hydropericadium have yielded to its curative powers. In dropsy, it is administered in cathartic doses. It is seldom used at prsent as a cathartic, but when so used its harsh effects may be somewhat overcome by combining it with ginger, piperin, or camphor.

As a remedy for uterine hypertrophy, enlarged ovaries, ulcerated os an dcervix uteri, uterine leucorrhoea, and dysmenorrhoea: R Specific iris, gtt. x to xx; aqua, fl3iv. Mix. Dose, 1 teaspoonful every hour in acute troubles, and 4 times a day in chronic affections. It is all the more strongly indicated in these conditions, if there be impaired general health, with mental depression, and when the skin presents abnormal pigmentation.

This drug has been successfully used in chronic rheumatism, syphilitic rheumatism, gonorrhoea, spermatorrhoea, and prostatorrhoea. Specific iris, in doses of from 1 to 5 drops, every 4 or 5 hours, in a fluid ounce of water, will be found very useful in those prostatic discharges and nocturnal emissions, the result of masturbation, and which are accompanied with considerable debility, mental uneasiness, and more or less irritation of the nervous centers. Prof. Scudder, in his “Practice,” states that he has for years placed great reliance on iris in treating syphilitic iritis. It is very efficient in malarial jaundice, and intermittent and bilious remittent fevers. it is rendered more efficient in malarial disorders, when combined with euonymus, or alstonia constricta. Iridin, in 3-grain pill, every night, followed by a saline cathartic in the morning, was quite popular among Edinburgh physicians some years ago as a remedy for the vomiting of pregnancy.

Iris is of great utility in dermal practice, given alone or associated with other indicated remedies. It seems to have a better action in chronic conditions. It is particularly adapted to diseases involving the sebaceous glands, and is especially useful in comedones, and other eruptions common to youth. It is indicated by rough, greasy, discolored conditions of the skin, and in those cases where pustular eruption seems to be associated with functional disturbances of the reproductive apparatus; also when associated with thyroid fullness in the female. It is valuable in syphilitic skin diseases. We have used it beneficially in eczema rubrum of children, and in cases of eczema of the scalp in adults. Some cases are benefited only, not cured by it. In one case of 13 years standing, the unpleasant symptoms were subdued as long as the patient took the drug; as soon as the iris was withdrawn the unpleasantness returned, though the general health of the man was much improved by its administration. Herpes zoster and herpes praeputialis usually call for iris and rhus. Rupia and impetigo have been cured by it when associated with sulphur, or Fowler’s solution. Persistent prurigo, psoriasis, and acne indurota will usually present conditions calling for iris. For lepra: R Specific iris, fl3i to fl3ii; aqua, fl3iv. Mix. Teaspoonful 4 times a day.

The dose of iris depends largely upon the effect desired. If a pronounced action upon the gastro-intestinal and glandular secretions is desired, from 5 to 20 grains of the powder, or 10 to 60 minims of the strong tincture, or 5 to 20 drops of specific iris may be used. In some persons, and when exhibited in large doses, it is apt to occasion much distressing nausea, with considerable prostration; these effects may be obviated or mitigated by combining it with a few grains of capsicum, or ginger, a grain of camphor, or 4 or 5 grains of resin of blue cohosh (caulophyllin). For its specific uses, however, the specific iris, in doses of from 1/20 to 5 drops, is preferred. Like all representative fluid preparations of iris, specific iris is liable to decompose and gelatinize, and is then useless as a medicine. The remedy is not appreciated as it should be, but it is safe to say that with a reliable preparation it will grow in favor the more it is employed.

1898: Webster: (Digestive System)
Iris exerts a specific influence on the gastro-intestinal mucous membrane, and is valuable to allay irritation, in small doses and relieve the reflex disturbances arising from this condition. It cures sick headache arising from morbid accumulations in the stomach, and also the neuralgic pains of certain dyspeptic patients which are reflected to the pectoral muscles and head.

In stomatitis, with burning in the mouth and fauces, iris is a remedy that may be prescribed with a considerable degree of confidence. It is not an infallible specific, but there is no doubt that it selectively influences the mucous lining of the mouth as far back as the ramifications of the salivary ducts, as it induces ptyalism in full doses and controls this condition in minute quantities when the result of disease.

Iris relieves colic and diarrhoea, and is sometimes valuable in treatment of cholera infantum. It is also a good remedy in gastralgia, acting more specifically than dioscorea or colocynth, which possess more marked affinities for parts lower down the alimentary canal.

Form for Administration- The specific medicine.

Dose- From the fraction of a drop to five drops.

1898: Webster: ( Ductless Glands)
This is Proffesor Scudder’s specific for goitre. I have been very well pleased with my experience with it, especially in recent cases, but it will frequently fail, as will every other recomended for this condition.

One important consideration is the obtaining of a preparation which represents the properies of fresh or recent root. This can be accomplished by using the specific medicine, or by preparing a tincture in the office when the plant can be readily found. The cariety of which the root presents a mottled appearance when cut, is the best, according to Scudder.

Dose: from a fraction of a drop to ten drops.

1898; Webster; (Muscles) – Iris Versicolor
Iris cures muscular pains, but is not applicable to all forms of this kind of trouble. In muscular pain due to reflexes from gastro-duodenal and pancreatic difficulties we will find it most applicable, the remedy here serving to banish gastralgia, colic, and pectoral pains arising from this cause, as well as subscapular distress.

I think many cases of so-called rheumatism may be traced to gastric debility, especially pectoral pain, and here we may try iris with considerable confidence. As the gastric or pancreatic debility yields to the remedy the ?rheumatic aches? subside.

Form for Administration – The specific medicine.

Dose – From the fraction of a drop to five drops.

1901 : Harvey W Felter (Alternatives) – IRIS – BLUE FLAG
SYNONYMS – Flag Lily, Fleur de Luce, Poison Flag

BOTANICAL ORIGIN -The rhizome and rootlets of Iris versicolor, Linne; Nat. Ord., Irideae . Indigenous to the United States , growing in meadows and in wet and swampy situations.

SPECIFIC IRIS VERSICOLOR – All that has been said of the Stillingia applies to this preparation. If preparations of Iris are in the least representative they are liable to decomposition and gelatinization. They change to a brown magna and then become worthless. Specific Iris is made of Ohio-grown Iris. The root as found in the South is of little value, the oleoresin being, as found by Prof Lloyd, practically replaced with red tannates.

This drug is alterative, emetic, and cathartic; alterative in small doses, emetic, and cathartic in large doses. It yields its virtues party to water and wholly to alcohol. Prepare a tincture from the green or recent root.

Iris is very valuable in chronic diseases of the liver, with marked pain, sharp and cutting in character, and increased by motion. There is also present more or less constipation, and this drug overcomes this by acting as a bilary stimulant.

R. Specific Iris, fl 3 ss.

Aqua fl 3 iv. M.

Sig. – Dose, a teaspoonful every three hours.

Large cathartic doses irritate the stomach and bowels, while minute dose allay gastric irritation.

For cholera morbus, cholera infantu, etc:

R. Specific Iris, gtt. v.

Aqua fl 3 iv. M.

Sig. – Dose, a teaspoonful frequently.

For ordinary diarrhoea, and for dysentery, with copius, slimy stools use the following:

R. Specific Iris, gtt. x. to xv.

Aqua fl 3 iv. M.

Sig. – Dose, a teaspoonful every hour.

Iris, by its action upon the glandular system, is a good alternative in rheumatism, scrofula, and syphillis; also in enlargement of the thyroid gland. Here use it locally:

R. Specific Iris, fl 3 j.

Glycerin fl 3 v. M.

Administer internally:

R. Specific Iris, gtt xv. to xx.

Simple Syrup fl 3 iv. M.

Dose, teaspoonful every two hours.

In diseases of scrofulous females Iris may be employed with great advantage. Leuccorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, hypersection of the mucous follicles of the vagina, ulceration of the os and cervix uteri, are all benefited by its internal use.

R. Specific Iris, gtt. x. to xx.

Aqua fl 3 iv. M.

Sig.- Dose, a teaspoonful every hour in acute troubles; four times a day in chronic cases.

Dropsy of scrofuous patients, sick headache and gastric irritation, nausea and vomiting, and apthous conditions of the mouth, are relieved by Iris in small doses. In nasal catarrh give from one to ten drops of specific Iris.

1905: Petersen
Syn – Iris; Blue Flag

P. E. – Root

N. O. – Iridaceae

N. H. – North America

Properties: In small doses alterative; in medium doses antisyphilitic, in large doses cathartic, emetic.

Indications:Of use in malarial jaundice where there are clay colored stools, scanty urine. In irritable conditions of the digestive tract, manifesting itself by neuralgic pains over the eye, generally of the right side; often pain in the face of same side; nausea and vomiting of acid liquid with burning sensation in the throat and stomach; regurgitation of food, especially after eating fats or very rich pastry. Diarrhoea with sour, watery discharge. In most cases it should be associated with other indicated remedies.

Use: In chronic jaundice from catarrhal conditions of the duodenum or obstruction of the bile ducts. In syphilis and strumous conditions where there is glandular inactivity it is a fine remedy. In glandular enlargements, enlargement of the lymphatics of a soft nature, especially of the thyroid it is used with success. Of value in recent cases of goitre. In skin diseases of chronic nature, oozing ulcers, it is of great value, especially if combined with other indicated remedies; also in sick headaches caused by morbid accumulations in the stomach. It stimulates the whole glandular system, lymphatics and skin to action, and especially the pancreas and salivary glands and the upper intestinal tract and liver.

1911: Fyfe
Enlargement of the thyroid gland, irritable conditions of the mucous membranes of the digestive tract with an altered secretion which causes a burning distress as though from an acid liquid, vomiting acid liquid, with a burning distress in the esophagus or stiamch, enlargement of the spleen, enlargement of lymphatic glands, chronic disease pancreas, with sodden, lead colored tongue, constitutional syphilis.

The curative action of iris is believed to depend upon its power of directly stimulating the glandular system, lymphatics, skin. This influence is especially makred on the salivary glands, pancreas, and glands of the upper part of the gastrintetstinal tract, including the liver. as an agent for the promotion of waste and elimination of impurities from the blood, it is very highly esteemed by the most eminent members of the ecletic school of medicine. Iris versicolor is diuretic, alterative, laxative, resolvent, and antisyphilitic. in very large doses it causes distressing nausea and prostration.

Ellingwood: rough greasy conditions of the skin;disorders of sebaceous follicles,: abnormal dermal pigmentation.

Neiderkorn: chronic eczema,thyroid fullness, greasy condition of skin, chronic hepatic complaint, worse after eating pastry or fats. dose: two to five drops every three hours.

Neiderkorn: alteriatve, secondary syphilis, any case when we have bad blood and impertfect nutrition.

1919: Ellingwood – IRIS, IRIS VERSICOLOR
Synonym – Blue Flag.

Constituents – Acrid resinous matter, tannin, gum, starch.

Preparations – Oleoresina Iridis, Oleoresin of Iris. Dose, one to five grains. Extractum Iridis Fluidum, Fluid Extract of Iris. Dose, five to sixty minims. Specific Medicine Iris. Dose, one-fourth to five minims.
Physiological Action – Iris Versicolor has a bitter, nauseous, and rather acrid taste, and in full doses is apt to cause emesis. Recent experiments have demonstrated that preparations of the fresh root or the oleo-resin possess active, purgative and diuretic qualities, and under its influence there are increased secretion and elimination of bile, its cholagogue powers having been abundantly demonstrated. It also directly stimulates the entire glandular system – the lymphatics and the skin.

It promotes waste and elimination of effete material from the blood.

Specific Symptomatology – This agent will prove serviceable when the stools are clay-colored, the urine scanty and the skin inactive and jaundiced. In small doses it is indicated in irritable conditions of the mucous membranes of the digestive tract, with altered secretion. This condition is characterized by a neuralgic pain over one eye, or involving one side of the face, usually the right side; nausea or vomiting of an acid liquid, with burning and distress in the esophagus or stomach; gastralgia and gastrodynia, with vomiting or regurgitation of food, especially after the eating of fats or rich pastry; diarrhoea, with a burning sensation after the passage; cholera morbus, with violent pain around the umbilicus, or in the lower part of the abdomen, and watery diarrhoea with great depression.

Therapy – The oleo-resin has been very successfully employed in hepatic and intestinal disorders, and the consequent dropsy. Chronic jaundice, arising from duodenal catarrh and obstruction of the biliary ducts, should be treated with Iris. It is said that malarial jaundice (so-called) may be cured by this drug alone, and that it exerts a favorable influence in bilious remittent fevers and chronic ague. This agent is directly indicated in that condition of the stomach which induces sick headache. It not only ameliorates the attack, but assists in the removal of the cause and in breaking up the tendency to recurrence of the condition.

This agent is employed in the treatment of syphilitic and strumous affections. In the treatment of syphilis this agent is a very useful remedy in those cases in which the glandular organs are inactive. Here the effects of Iris are strikingly conspicuous from the first. It will be found an excellent auxiliary also to the influence of other well known alteratives. It has also been largely employed in the successful treatment of many affections of the skin. Kinnett recommends it strongly in psoriasis.

In the treatment of certain cases of eczema of a persistent chronic character, as well as of other pustular and open ulcerating or oozing skin diseases, this agent, in from five to ten drop doses every two or three hours, will be found most useful. It may be diluted and applied externally also. Prurigo, crustalactea and tinea yield readily to its influence at times.

It is a favorite remedy in the treatment of enlargement of the thyroid and other glandular affections. In recent cases of goiter, iris is used to good advantage. With many, if used in the form of a recent preparation, it is believed to be specific.

Dr. H. P. Whitford gave iris and hyoscyamus with a very small dose of podophyllin for headaches in the back part of the head.

Dr. Laws reports the use of iris in a bad case of eczema where the attacks lasted six months, each worse than the previous one. The disease would begin at the ankle, finally cover the entire body. The itching was intolerable. He used the remedy both internally and externally with excellent results. Dr. Kinnett confirms these statements.

Both have great confidence in it in the treatment of goiter, and in the tratment of syphilis where they do not expect to have to use the iodides with it. They push it to a mild cathartic effect so that it will keep the bowels free.

Disclaimer: The author makes no guarantees as to the the curative effect of any herb or tonic on this website, and no visitor should attempt to use any of the information herein provided as treatment for any illness, weakness, or disease without first consulting a physician or health care provider. Pregnant women should always consult first with a health care professional before taking any treatment.