PODOPHYLLUM Overview Information
Podophyllum is a plant. The root and underground stem (rhizome) are used to make medicine.
Podophyllum is highly poisonous when taken by mouth. Nevertheless, some people take it orally for yellowed skin (jaundice), liver ailments, fever, syphilis, hearing loss, and cancer. Podophyllum is also used to empty the bowels, kill parasitic worms in the intestine, and counteract snakebite. Some women take it to cause an abortion.
Podophyllum has been used as a laxative. (It was an ingredient in Carter's Little Liver Pills.) But it has been removed from the market due to safety concerns.
Podophyllum is applied directly to the skin for removal of warts, including plantar warts and sexually transmitted (venereal) warts. It is also used topically for treating pre-cancerous white patches on the tongue and mouth (oral hairy leukoplakia).
Intravaginally, podophyllum is used to treat gynecologic infections.
How does it work?
Podophyllum can stop cell duplication and new growth. It can also have laxative effects.
Likely Effective for:
- Treating venereal warts. Applying podophyllum resin, also called podophyllin, as a 10% to 25% suspension in tincture of benzoin directly to the affected area is effective for removal of warts caused by human papillomavirus. However, podophyllotoxin, a chemical found in podophyllum, is usually used instead because it is less toxic and might be more effective. Podophyllotoxin (podofilox, Condylox) is an FDA-approved drug.
- Raised areas on the tongue and mouth in people with immune system diseases (oral hairy leukoplakia). Early research suggests that a single application of 25% podophyllum resin in tincture of benzoin to the affected area can start to heal wounds caused by oral hairy leukoplakia.
- Liver problems.
- Other conditions.
PODOPHYLLUM Side Effects & Safety
Podophyllum is very UNSAFE when taken by mouth. It is poisonous. It may cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, spasms, fever, visual changes and hallucinations, low blood pressure, bone marrow problems, paralysis, coma, liver problems, and kidney problems. It can take up to 13 hours for symptoms of poisoning to appear. Some deaths after taking podophyllum by mouth have been reported. Podophyllum poisoning has been successfully treated in some cases by using activated charcoal.
When applied by medical professionals in low concentration to unbroken skin, podophyllum seems safe for most people. It should be washed off within four to six hours. Podophyllum is UNSAFE when used in higher concentrations or over large areas of the body. It is absorbed through the skin and can cause the same serious harmful effects as taking podophyllum by mouth. Deaths have been reported after people applied too much podophyllum to their skin. Podophyllotoxin, a chemical found in podophyllum, is safer and has largely replaced podophyllum as a treatment.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It is UNSAFE to take podophyllum by mouth or apply it to your skin if you are pregnant. There have been reports of death and multiple birth defects in babies whose mothers used podophyllum during pregnancy.
It is also UNSAFE to use podophyllum if you are breast-feeding. The poisons in podophyllum can endanger you and your nursing baby.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
APPLIED TO THE SKIN:
- Podophyllum should not be used for self-treatment. Covering too much skin with podophyllum or applying it to broken skin increases the chance of getting poisoned. It's safer to use podophyllotoxin (one of the chemicals in podophyllum).
- For genital warts caused by human papilloma virus (HPV): A 0.5% podophyllotoxin gel is applied twice daily for three days in a row and repeated for two to four cycles. Podophyllotoxin is a chemical taken from podophyllum. Podophyllotoxin (podofilox, Condylox) is an FDA-approved drug. Podophyllotoxin might be more effective than podophyllum and is less toxic.