male fern

Other names: Black fern, Devil’s beard, Shrike.

Diseases and effects: worms, teniidosis, diphyllobothriasis, hymenolepiasis.

Active substances: phloroglucinol derivatives, filixic acid (filicin), filmarone, albaspidin, aspidinol, flavospidinic acid, tannins, flavonoids and essential oil, bitterness and starch.

Collection time:  August – September

Fern family (Aspidiaceae), according to other sources – centipedes (Polypodiaceae).\r

Popular names – black fern, devil’s beard, shrike.\r

Plant symbolism


The fern was considered a sacred plant of Kron. For those born under his unlucky star (the planet Saturn), an infusion or decoction of fern rhizomes should have been of particular benefit.\r

In the ancient Slavic tradition, the fern gained fame as a magical plant that blooms once a year on the feast of Ivan Kupala (summer solstice).\r

According to legend, it was at Kupala midnight that the fern bloomed for a short time and the earth opened up, making visible the treasures and treasures hidden in it.\r

After midnight, those who were lucky enough to find a fern flower ran in what their mother gave birth through the dewy grass and bathed in the river to receive fertility from the earth. Approximately the same thing was done with horses: they were driven through the dew and bathed in water until dawn.\r

The fern also symbolizes a trusting relationship.\r

Seeing a fern in a dream portends sad events that are destined to overshadow your existence. If you dreamed of a fern with yellowed, withered leaves, you should have prepared for the fact that your relatives will get sick.\r

In the sacred calendar of the Druids, the fern is considered a sacred plant of Demeter and Poseidon and is given a period of June 21-22.\r

Botanical description


Perennial herbaceous plant with rhizome.\r

The rhizome is powerful, thick, densely covered with thin roots and bears a bunch of long pinnate leaves.\r

The leaves are dark green, elongated-elliptical, up to 1 m long or more, double-pinnate, with denticles that develop clusters of sporangia on the underside of the leaves, covered with rounded kidney-shaped bedspreads.\r

Habitat and distribution


It grows in spruce and oak forests and among shrubs, in moist shady places rich in humus, in the Caucasus – in mountain beech forests, in Siberia (in the Altai and Sayan Mountains) – in spruce taiga, in the Far East – in cedar forests.\r

Distribution areas – almost the entire territory of the CIS. Collected and harvested in Ukraine, in the Moscow and Tver regions, where the male fern forms massive thickets.\r

Chemical composition


The male fern rhizome contains phloroglucinol derivatives, filixinic acid (filicin), filmarone, albaspidin, aspidinol, flavospidinic acid, tannins, flavonoids and essential oil, bitterness and starch.\r

Pharmacological properties


In experiments on laboratory animals and on the simplest biological objects, the specific toxicity of phloroglucinol derivatives was shown, mainly in relation to the muscular system of cold-blooded animals. In warm-blooded animals, their toxicity was manifested primarily in relation to the central nervous system. The ability of male fern products in small doses to have a detrimental effect on tape parasites without a significant toxic effect on the animal body served as the basis for studying the antihelminthic properties of the plant.\r

Experimental studies have confirmed that phloroglucinol derivatives and their decay products are particularly toxic to cellular protoplasm. Phylixic acid has the strongest antihelminthic property.\r



The rhizomes of the plant are used for medicinal purposes. Dig out from the fall (from the end of August to October), clean from the remnants of the earth, roots, scales, from the above-ground dry parts, and the underground greenish “fingers” are left on the rhizome and carefully dried.\r

The rhizomes of the male fern are dried in the shade, in a well-ventilated area, on the oven and in the oven on residual heat. To speed up drying, the rhizomes are cut lengthwise and across into small pieces and laid out in one layer. Dried male fern is greenish on a break. Its odor is slightly aromatic. The taste is sweetish-tart, unpleasant when chewed.\r

Dry rhizomes intended for treatment should be replaced with fresh ones every year. It is recommended to store raw materials in a closed, dry place.\r

Application in medicine


The plant is poisonous. The rhizome of the male fern was known to the doctors of ancient Greece as an effective remedy against tapeworm – tapeworm. In medieval Europe, infusions of the plant were used, but only at the end of the 18th century were the indications for the use of the plant precisely established.\r

Herbal products of male fern are used as effective anthelmintic agents. Usually they are prescribed for invasions of swine, bovine and dwarf tapeworm. Parasites die quite quickly due to paralysis of their muscular system. In this regard, after a fractional intake of fern products, a saline laxative is prescribed after 30-40 minutes, which helps to expel parasites from the gastrointestinal tract. Castor oil or other fats should not be used as a laxative.\r

Fern preparations are, of course, toxic to sick people, so when prescribing them, it will be necessary to be careful and use them according to a certain scheme under strict medical supervision.\r

Dosage forms, method of administration and doses


Fern extract male thick (Extractum filicis maris spissum) is prescribed mainly for the expulsion of tape parasites. Applied with taeniasis, diphyllobothriasis, hymenolepiasis. With taeniasis and diphyllobothriasis, it is prescribed orally (after special preparation) for one day 4-7 g, with hymenolepiasis – on an empty stomach for 20-30 minutes 1.5-2 g. For children, the dose is reduced in accordance with age. The highest single dose for adults orally 8 g (single).\r

Side effects: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, weakening of cardiac activity, degenerative changes in the liver.\r

Contraindications: circulatory failure, liver and kidney disease, peptic ulcer of the stomach and duodenum, acute gastrointestinal and febrile diseases, severe exhaustion, anemia, tuberculosis, pregnancy. The drug is not prescribed to children under the age of 2 years.\r

Filixan (Filixanum) – the sum of the active ingredients of the rhizomes of the male fern. Reddish-brown amorphous powder, odorless and almost tasteless. It is prescribed for taeniasis inside a single dose for adults, 14-16 tablets (7-8 g), children 2-5 years old – 2-5 tablets (1-2.5 g), 6-10 years old – 6-8 tablets (3 -4 g), 11-15 years – 10-15 tablets (5-6 g). The highest single dose for adults (one-time) is 10 g. Preparation of the patient, method of application, possible complications and contraindications are the same as when using the extract of the male fern thick.

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