The dried fronds (Maidenhair) are used as a drug as well the dried herb with rhizome and roots (Maidenhair with roots).
Flower and Fruit
There are lumps of sporangia without a veil on the underside of the lateral lobes. The sporangia are square to reniform and later, dark brown.
Leaves, Stem, and Root
Maidenhair is a hardy, up to 35 cm high plant with an aromatic lily fragrance. It has a creeping rhizome. The leaves are double-rowed, tender, glabrous, and grow up to 50 cm long. They have a glossy black petiole and are covered with hairs at the base. The leaf-blade is ovate to oblong-ovate. The leaflets are light-green and periolate. The pinnules have hairlike petioles. The veins of the sterile pinna terminate in teeth at the edge of the leaf.
Southern Europe, Atlantic coast as far as Ireland, from the south to the southern Alpine valleys (Tessin, southern Tyrol).
Maidenhair fern, which is gathered in June and dried, is the frond of Adiantum capillus-veneris.
Not to be Confused With
It has sometimes been observed that the drug has been made impure by an addition of bracken leaf fronds (Pteridium aquilinum).
Five-Finger Fern, Hair of Venus, Maiden Fern, Rock Fern, Venus Hair
Actions & Pharmacology
Hydroxycinnamic acid ester
The drug is an expectorant, beneficial in bringing up phlegm, and a demulcent.
Indications & Usage
In the middle ages, the drug was used for various illnesses of the respiratory tract, in the form of so-called pectoral teas and as a syrup for severe coughs. Because of its similarity to hair, the drug was used to treat a lack of hair growth and to promote dark hair color.
It is still taken as an infusion in Spain, Belgium, and the Canary Islands to treat bronchitis, coughs, and whooping cough, and also for painful and excessive menstruation.
Precautions & Adverse Reactions
No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages.
Not to be used during pregnancy
Mode of Administration
The drug is taken internally as a tea prepared from the ground or powdered drug.
The standard single dose is 1.5 g of the drug to 1 cup of liquid per dose (average single dose)
Protect from light.