Avenca has long held a place in herbal medicine systems worldwide. In European herbal medicine, its documented use predates the era of Dioscorides and Pliny (23-79 A.D.). Culpepper (1787 ed.) said, "This and all other Maiden Hair Ferns is a good remedy for coughs, asthmas, pleurisy, etc., and on account of its being a gentle diuretic also in jaundice, gravel and other impurities of the kidneys."* For more information about avenca (Adiantum capillus-veneris), please refer to the Database File for Avenca in the Tropical Plant Database. To see photographs of avenca, click here.
Traditional Uses:* for respiratory problems (coughs, bronchitis, colds, flu, pneumonia, excessive mucous/phlegm); for hair loss; for gallstones; for menstrual disorders (interruption or absence of menstrual cycle); as a blood cleanser and liver detoxifier
Suggested Use: This plant is best prepared as an infusion (tea). Use one teaspoon of powder for each cup of water. Pour boiling water over herb in cup and allow to steep 10 minutes. Strain tea (or allow settled powder to remain in the bottom of cup) and drink warm. It is traditionally taken in 1/2 cup amounts, twice daily. For more complete instrutions on preparing herbal infusions see the Methods for Preparing Herbal Remedies Page.
1. Not to be used while pregnant.
2. Avenca has been documented to lower blood sugar levels in animal studies. It is probably contraindicated for people will hypoglycemia.
3. The plant has shown to have an anti-implantation effect in animal studies and may prevent conception. Couples seeking fertility treatment or pregnancy should not take avenca.
4. Due to its effect on fertility and menstruation, avenca may have estrogen-like effects and should probably be avoided by women with estrogen-positive cancers.
Drug Interactions: Avenca may potentiate insulin and antidiabetic drugs
Avenca Plant Summary
Main Preparation Method: fluid extract or infusion
Main Actions (in order): cough suppressant, decongestant, expectorant,
menstrual stimulant, antimicrobial
for respiratory problems (coughs, bronchitis, colds, flu, pneumonia, excessive mucous/phlegm)
for hair loss
for menstrual disorders (interruption or absence of menstrual cycle)
as a blood cleanser and liver detoxifier
Properties/Actions Documented by Research: anti-fertility, antibacterial, anticandidal, antiviral, contraceptive, hypoglycemic
Other Properties/Actions Documented by Traditional Use: antioxidant, cough suppressant, astringent, liver bile stimulator, blood cleanser, cardiotonic (tones, balances, strengthens the heart), decongestant, detoxifier, diaphoretic (promotes sweating), diuretic, expectorant, hepatoprotective (liver protector), hypocholesterolemic (lowers cholesterol), hypoglycemic, hypotensive (lowers blood pressure), menstrual stimulant, stimulant, tonic (tones, balances, strengthens), wound healer
Cautions: It has been documented in animals to have contraceptive and anti-fertility effects. It may lower blood sugar levels.
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