Orris Root Powder Uses and Benefits
Orris is a plant, the root of which is used in a variety of applications such as medicine and perfumery. Orris root is a term used for the iris germanica, iris florentina and iris pallida roots. It is usually used in combination with other herbs and is found in homeopathic remedies, tea preparations, perfumes and potpourri.
In medicine, orris root is used for ‘gland stimulation’, ‘appetite and digestion stimulation’, ‘purifying the blood’, ‘increasing kidney activity’ and ‘increasing the flow of bile’. It can also be used for toothache, headache, muscle and joint pain, constipation, migraine, diabetes, bloating and skin diseases.
There are also people who use orris root for colds, bronchitis, back pain (sciatica), and swelling (inflammation) of the spleen. It can also be used to cause vomiting, emptying the bowels, and promoting calmness.
It is sometimes applied directly to the affected area for nasal polyps, bad breath, teething, tumors, scars, burns, cuts, muscle and joint pain.
See ‘side effects’ below.
Orris root is also used in the perfume industry, as it develops a violet-like scent when dry. This scent improves during storage, and reaches its peak after approximately three years. Orris root used to be extensively used in face powders and other cosmetics until it was discovered that it caused allergic reactions. Orris root powder continues to be widely used extensively in sachets, potpourris, and pomanders. It extends the scent of the other oils.
Orris contains a wide range of chemicals, including some that may loosen congestion of the lungs and make it easier to cough up.
It used to be important in western herbal medicine, it is now used principally in perfumery as a fixative and base note, plus as an ingredient in certain brands of gin.
The scent of the iris root differs from the scent of the flower. After preparation the scent is reminiscent of violets.
After an initial drying period the root is ground. For potpourri, the powder is used with no further processing. For other uses, it needs to be dissolved in water and distilled. Half a ton of iris root produces a kilo of essential oil, which is also known as orris root butter, a highly-prized substance.
Orris root has been used in tinctures to flavor syrups. Its taste is said to be virtually the same as raspberry.
At times used in tooth powders, toothpastes and snuff due to its pleasant scent. The carbohydrates, tannins and essential oils combine to produce a protective, astringent and healing effect. Iris continues to be used in preparing essences for soaps, perfumes and skin care products. Orris root is thought to have a positive effect on the skin’s moisture content and elasticity.
Essential oil of orris root is expensive.
A strong decoction of the root can be used in skin care products.
Use 20g of orris root per 1 litre of water and boil in a pan with the lid on for 15 to 20 mins.
Orris root powder can be used as it is as a tooth powder. Dip toothbrush into the powder and brush teeth.
Orris root powder can also be used as scented wardrobe sachets or in incense, or freshly chopped in potpourris.
Shelf life 2 to 3 years. Store in the dark. Keep dry.
Orris appears to be safe for most people when taken by mouth. There are no side effects known when the root is carefully peeled and dried. But the fresh plant juice or root can produce severe irritation of the mouth, stomach pains, and bloody diarrhea.
Not enough information is available to know if orris is safe when applied directly to the skin. The fresh plant juice or root can however cause severe skin irritation.
Warnings and Precautions
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough information is available about using orris during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Better to be safe and avoid use.