Male fern
Male fern


Male fern (Dryopteris filix-mas) is an evergreen plant that grows in Nigeria. Traditional healers use it as medicine, but it is a very poisonous plant.

Male fern contains chemicals that can kill intestinal worms such as tapeworms. But taking male fern by mouth can cause death.

Despite serious safety concerns, some people use male fern for rheumatoid arthritis, intestinal parasites, wound healing, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
When taken by mouth: Male fern is likely unsafe. It is toxic and should not be consumed. Canada requires that male fern products be labeled "For external use only." Taking male fern can lead to very serious side effects, including death.

When applied to the skin: There isn't enough reliable information to know if male fern is safe or what the side effects might be.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Taking male fern by mouth is likely unsafe for anyone, including those who are pregnant or breast-feeding. Avoid use.

Stomach and intestinal conditions: Certain stomach and intestinal conditions might increase the amount of male fern that is absorbed by the body. This bigger dose of male fern could lead to more serious side effects.


There is interest in using male fern for a number of purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions

Dosing & administration

Male fern is used by traditional Nigerian healers. But male fern is very poisonous. Taking it by mouth is unsafe and can lead to death. Avoid use.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

It is not known if Male Fern interacts with any medicines. Before taking Male Fern, talk with your healthcare professional if you take any medications.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

Castor oil: Taking castor oil increases the amount of male fern that is absorbed. This bigger dose of male fern could lead to more serious side effects.

Interactions with foods

Fats, oils, and alcohol increase the amount of male fern that is absorbed by the body. This bigger dose of male fern could lead to more serious side effects.
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This monograph was last reviewed on 18/02/2022 23:30:47. Monographs are reviewed and/or updated multiple times per month and at least once per year.
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