Materia Medica and phytochemistry of anthelmintic ferns

Actiniopteris radiata L. (Adiantaceae)

It is commonly found in India and possesses anthelmintic activity. Powdered rhizome is used as an anthelmintic in homeopathic medicine. It contains rutin and sterols.

Athyrium filix-femina (L.) Roth. ex Mert. (Dryopteridaceae)

It is native to Britain and popularly known as lady fern. A liquid extract of the root is an effective anthelmintic, though it is less powerful than the male fern, D. filix-mas.

Cheilanthes hirta Sw. (Adiantaceae)

This fern is found in Swaziland. Powdered rhizome is used as an anthelmintic for tapeworm.

Cibotium barometz (L.) J. Smith (Dicksoniaceae)

In India, it is used as a remedy for tape worm. In veterinary practice it is used as a vermifuge.

Cyathea medullaris G. Forst. Sw. (Cyatheaceae)

It is native to New Zealand. The gum obtained from the fern is used as a vermifuge.

Cystopteris fragilis (L.) Bernh. (Dryopteridaceae)

It is commonly known as brittle bladder fern. It is cosmopolitan in distribution. A decoction of the roots has been used as an anthelmintic enema.

Cyrtomium falcatum (L.f.) C. Presl. (Dryopteridaceae)

It is known as holly fern and found from East Asia to the Himalayas. It is reported to be naturalized in parts of Britain. The rhizome is used as an anthelmintic, chiefly for expulsion of tapeworm.

Cyrtomium fortunei-J.Sm (Dryopteridaceae)

This fern is found in East Asia. A decoction is used in the treatment of worm infestations including hookworm, tapeworm, ascariasis, and filiariasis.

Dryopteris crassirhizoma Nakai (Dryopteridaceae)

It is found in Korea. The rhizome is used against tapeworm and hookworm. It is reported to contain triterpenes and phenols.

Dryopteris expansa (C.Presl.) Fraser-Jenkins & Jermy (Dryopteridaceae)

It is found in the northern temperate zone, including Britain. The roots are rich in filicin. It is one of the most effective treatments known for tapeworms—its use should be immediately followed by a non-oily purgative such as magnesium sulfate in order to expel the worms from the body. An oily purge, such as caster oil, increases the absorption of the fern root and can be dangerous.

Dryopteris Filix-mas (L.) Schott (Dryopteridaceae)

It is grown as an ornamental fern in gardens. The oldest known anthelmintic now in use, as established historically, appears to be a male fern. It is sometimes referred to in ancient literature as Worm Fern. Many fern constituents display various types of bioactivities. The early physician, Theophrastus, recognized the value of the fern for treating tinea (ringworm) infections. Classical use of the plant as an anthelmintic included 5 to 8 g doses of the oleoresin extract. The fern has been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of worm infections.

The chemical composition of oleoresin of the rhizome of D. filix mas composition was ascribed to a group of related compounds commonly known as 'phenol fraction of the oleoresin' which were derivatives of 2-acylcyclol~exane-1, 3-dione.

Böhm showed the medical world that phloroglucinol group of compounds were responsible for anthelmintic activity of D. Filix-mas. Major pholoroglucinol of D. Filix-mas is filicin or filicic acid (1.5%) and is considered to be the active principle. According to pharmacopoeia, the rhizome of D. Filix-mas should not contain less than 1.5% of filicin. Liquid extract of D. Filix-mas contains 25% w/w of filicin. Other pholoroglucinols present in the rhizome of D.Filix-mas includes aspidin, desaspidin, paraspidin, margaspidin,aspidine, filixic acid, flavaspidic acid and filmarone.

Medicinal Plants Swaziland

oh ch3

COPr-n COPr-n

R=CH3 r=ch3

Filicic acid Flavaspidic acid

Fig. 12.1 Major phloroglucinols of Dryopteris Filix-mas.

Penittla and Sundma (1963) reported trisaspidin, trisdesaspidin and trisflavaspidic acid as antelmnitic principles of genus Dryopteris. Aspidin and desapidin were reported to be active among phloroglucinols by Bowden et al., in 1965. Murakami et al., 1984 holds aspidinol and desaspidinol responsible for the anthelmintic effects detected in extracts from various species of ferns of the genus Dryopteris. Aspidinol and desaspidinol have been reported from petroleum ether extract of the leaves and flowers Leucosidea sericea (Rosaceae).


Desapidinol Aspidinol

Fig. 12.2 Other hloroglucinols of Dryopteris Filix-mas.

Filicin and filmarone are active vermifuges and are particularly toxic to tapeworms. Following ingestion of the drugs, tinea are expelled within hours; however, a purgative typically is ingested concomitantly with the vermifuge to aid expulsion. The oleoresin paralyzes intestinal voluntary muscle and the analogous muscles of the tapeworm, which is then readily eliminated by the action of the purgative.

Preliminary preparation of D. Filix-mas with a milk diet and alba mixture for 2 d is followed by the drug in 3 divided doses in succession on an empty stomach in the morning followed by magnesium sulfate purgative. The head of the tapeworm is searched for in the stools that are passed. Castor oil must not be used because the oil aids the absorption

of filicic acid which is toxic.D. Filix-mas is contraindicated in alcoholism, pregnancy and in advanced diseases of the heart, liver and kidneys.

The rhizome of D. Filix-mas is strongly cytotoxic against band worms and liver flukes, although round worm (Ascaris lumricoides) and pin worm (Oxyuris vermicalulis) are resistant. In combination with other anthelmintics, male fern extract has been reported to be effective against Hymenolepis nana, a small intestinal tapeworm. The components of the plant have been used as veterinary vermifuges. D. Filix-mas should be used with caution as in large doses it is poisonous. It is reported to be hepatotoxic and nephrotoxic.

The rhizomes of Asplenium Filix-foemina (Bernh.), Aspidium oreopteris (Sw.), and A. spinulosum (Sw.) resemble those of the male fern and have often been found mixed with it when imported. D. juxtaposita Christ is used as a substitute for the European male fern.

Dryopteris lewalleana Pic.Serm. (Dryopteridaceae)

In folk medicine of Swaziland, the Zulu and Xhosa, rhizome of the fern is used as anthelmintic.

Dryopteris oreades Fomin. Polypodium vulgare

It is commonly known as Mountain male fern. It is found in Britain. Its anthelmnitic use is similar to D. expansa.

Polypodium vulgare L. (Polypodiaceae)

It is found in Europe, the Mediterranean, temperate Asia and eastern N. America. A tea or syrup of the whole plant is anthelmintic.

Was this article helpful?

+1 0
Health And Wellness In The 21st Century

Health And Wellness In The 21st Century

Surefire Ways To Build Up Your Health And Wellness In The Realm Of The Baby Boomer. This Book Is One Of The Most Valuable Resources In The World When It Comes To Getting Serious Results In Getting Health Secrets. For a lot of us Baby Boomers, the last 10 years has been fraught with caring for or watching our aging loved ones deal with such events as Alzheimers, Osteoporosis, heart conditions and Cancer.

Get My Free Ebook


  • sergio
    What are Athyrium filixfemina phytochemical constituents?
    5 years ago

Post a comment