Male dryopteris (Dryopteris filix-mas); magpie, male fern, male shield; Dryopteridaceae or Aspidiaceae family; thyroid gland is male
Among the useful plants there are also ferns, in particular the eagle fern. However, dryopteris, unlike the eagle, is not a food plant. Moreover, it is poisonous. It is the toxic properties of this fern that are used in scientific and folk medicine.
Dryopteris male is a perennial plant with a large rhizome covered with petiole bases of dead leaves. The leaves are collected in a bundle, petioled, and the petiole is 1/4-1/2 the length of the leaf blade. They are quite densely covered with brownish scales that extend onto the stem of the leaf. The blade of the leaf is lanceolate or oblong-oval, pointed at the tip, double-pinnate. “Feathers” alternate, linear-lanceolate, gradually narrowed to the top, blunt or sharp-toothed. The reproductive organs are located on the underside of the leaf. Spawning in June-July. Dryopteris usually grows in shady forests and mountains, among rocky outcrops. Widespread in the European part of Russia, in the Caucasus and in the southern part of Western Siberia. It is rare in Eastern Siberia. In Ukraine, it grows throughout the territory in deciduous and mixed forests, on the edges of alder forests.
Fern rhizomes are harvested for medicinal use in spring or autumn. After harvesting, they are cleaned of soil, scales, dry petioles and dead parts, but not washed. Quality raw materials usually have a greenish tint. The rhizomes are cut lengthwise, and then crosswise into several parts. They are dried in attics or in a warm room, sometimes in a dryer at a temperature not higher than 40 °C. Ready raw materials are stored for a year.
The rhizomes contain the main active substances of the fern – derivatives of phloroglucin and filixonic acid, tannins and bitter substances, flavonoids, starch, essential oil and other chemical compounds.
Dryopteris galenic products (thick rhizome extract and the so-called “Filixan”) are used to expel parasitic, mainly tapeworms (helminths). These medicines are used for the treatment of teniosis (solitera), diphyllobothriasis (broad stickleback), hymenolepidosis (dwarf stickleback). Fatty food and laxatives (especially castor oil) should not be consumed while taking dryopteris products, as fats increase the toxicity of the product.
Male fern products are not prescribed for children under the age of two. Treatment with these means is also contraindicated for people with diseases of the kidneys, liver, cardiovascular system, inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, and pregnant women.
In traditional medicine, rhizome infusion, in addition to anthelmintic use, is recommended as an external remedy in the form of baths and rubs for rheumatism, muscle spasms, and skin ulcers. The decoction is used for inflammation of the sciatic nerve.
All products of male dryopteris are toxic, so only a doctor prescribes and monitors the treatment.