The drug is the herb, without roots, harvested at flowering season.
Flower and Fruit
The flowering stems are axillary, numerous, pubescent, and erect. They are usually reddish and have 3 entire-margined, ovate, unpetiolate, calyxlike bracts up to 1 cm long, directly under the upright flower. The 6 to 8 bracts are sky blue, paler on the outside, occasionally pink or white, narrow-ovate, entire-margined, and dropping. There are no nectaries. The stamens are almost white with red connective. The stigma is headlike. The fruit is oblong with a short beak fitted into the semiglobular receptacle.
Leaves, Stem, and Root
The herb is a 7 to 15 cm high, a hardy perennial with a short, fibrous, dark-brown rhizome. The numerous leaves are basal, long-petioled, coriaceous, green above and usually violet beneath. They are cordate and three-lobed at the base, deeply indented, broadly ovate, with blunt to acute lobes. The young leaves, including the stems, are densely covered in silky white hairs. The leaves later become glabrous and appear after flowering. Liverwort is a protected species in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.
The plant is indigenous to almost all of Europe except the Atlantic regions, Denmark and northwest Germany. It is also indigenous to Korea, Japan, and temperate North America.
American Liverwort consists of the fresh or dried above-ground parts of Hepatica nobilis. The herb is harvested when in bloom and air-dried in the shade. The roots must be left in the ground because they are a protected species.
Herb Trinity, Kidneywort, Liverleaf, Liverweed, Round-Leaved Hepatica, Trefoil, Kidney Liverleaf
Actions & Pharmacology
Protoanemonine-forming agents (0.07% in the freshly harvested plant, based on weight): presumably, the glycoside ranunculin changes enzymatically when the plant is cut into small pieces (and probably also during dehydration) into the pungent, volatile protoanemonine that quickly dimerizes to anemonine. Once dried, the plant is not capable of protoanemonine formation.
Flavonoids: including isoquercitrin, astragalin, quercimeritrin
The main active agents are lactone-forming glycosides, flavo-glycosides and anthocyane. The fresh plant contains protoanemonine, which causes skin irritation.
Indications & Usage
Preparations of American Liverwort herb are used for liver ailments, liver diseases of all origins, jaundice, gallstones, and gravel.
Precautions & Adverse Reactions
Health risks or side effects following the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages are not recorded.
Extended skin contact with the freshly harvested, bruised plant can lead to blister formation and cauterizations that are difficult to heal due to the resulting protoanemonine, which is severely irritating to the skin and mucous membranes. If taken internally, severe irritation to the gastrointestinal tract, combined with colic and diarrhea, as well as irritation of the urinary drainage passages, are possible.
Symptomatic treatment for external contact consists of mucilaginosa, following irrigation with diluted potassium permanganate solution. In case of internal contact, administration of activated charcoal should follow gastric lavage.
Not to be used during pregnancy.
Mode of Administration
The drug can be taken internally or used externally as a rinse. Also as a liniment made with added fats, oils, or alcohol.
To make a rinse, a cataplasm can be made of the squeezed fresh plant; alcohol can be used if necessary.
When used internally, a single dose consists of 2 to 4 gm as an infusion, or 2 to 3 cups from a 3 to 6% infusion. The daily dosage is 4 teaspoonfuls, or 3.8 gm drug.