Anapsos, Calaguala, Difur, Fern, Fougère, P. Leucotomos, PL, PLE, Polypodium.


Overview Information

Polypodium leucotomos is a fern from Central and South America. The underground "runners" (rhizomes) of the plant are used for medicine.

People use Polypodium leucotomos for sunburn, eczema (atopic dermatitis), scaly, itchy skin (psoriasis), a skin disorder that causes white patches to develop on the skin (vitiligo), and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

How does it work?

Polypodium leucotomos might have antioxidant effects. Antioxidants might prevent damage caused by excessive sun exposure.


Uses & Effectiveness?

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Rough, scaly patches on skin caused by long-term sun exposure (actinic keratosis). Early research suggests that taking Polypodium leucotomos extract along with using light therapy helps to reduce scaly patches on the scalp.
  • Eczema (atopic dermatitis). Early research suggests that taking Polypodium leucotomos extract might reduce inflammation in people with itchy and inflamed skin from eczema.
  • Diseases, such as Alzheimer disease, that interfere with thinking (dementia). Some early research shows that taking a Polypodium leucotomos extract 360 mg daily for 4 weeks improves mental function in people with mild to moderate dementia. But taking 720 mg doesn't seem to be beneficial. The reason for the lack of benefit with the higher dose is unclear.
  • Dark skin patches on the face (melasma). Some early research suggests that taking Polypodium leucotomos doesn't help to lighten dark skin patches from melasma. But other research suggests that it might have a small effect when used with hydroquinone cream and sunscreen.
  • Skin rash caused by sun exposure (polymorphous light eruption or PMLE). Early research shows that taking Polypodium leucotomos extract may help to prevent skin rash after sun exposure in people who react to the sun.
  • Skin damage caused by PUVA therapy. PUVA is a form of light therapy used to treat psoriasis. But it can cause sunburn and other forms of skin damage. There is evidence that taking Polypodium leucotomos extract or using a lotion containing Polypodium leucotomos before PUVA treatment can reduce skin redness and signs of light damage. Polypodium leucotomos also seems to decrease skin darkening that happens to some people after PUVA treatment.
  • Scaly, itchy skin (psoriasis). There is evidence that taking Polypodium leucotomos extracts might improve symptoms of severe psoriasis.
  • Sunburn. There is evidence that taking Polypodium leucotomos extract or using a lotion containing Polypodium leucotomos before sun exposure can reduce reddening of the skin and signs of skin damage.
  • A skin disorder that causes white patches to develop on the skin (vitiligo). There is evidence that taking Polypodium leucotomos extract might increase skin color on some, but not all, body areas in people with vitiligo.
  • Skin cancer.
  • Other cancers.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of Polypodium leucotomos for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

When taken by mouth: Polypodium leucotomos extract is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth for up to 5 months. Daily doses used typically range from 360-480 mg. Higher doses of 960-1200 mg daily have been used safely for shorter durations of 2-4 weeks.

When applied to the skin: Polypodium leucotomos extract is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin, short-term.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if Polypodium leucotomos is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: Polypodium leucotomos extract is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth, short-term. Polypodium leucotomos extract has been used safely for up to 6 months at doses of 240 mg daily in children aged 2-5 years, 360 mg daily in children aged 6-12 years, and 480 mg daily in children over 12 years of age.



We currently have no information for POLYPODIUM LEUCOTOMOS Interactions.



The appropriate dose of Polypodium leucotomos depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for Polypodium leucotomos. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

View References


  • Alvarez, X. A., Pichel, V., Perez, P., Laredo, M., Corzo, D., Zas, R., Fernandez-Novoa, L., Sempere, J. M., Diaz, J., and Cacabelos, R. Double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study with anapsos in senile dementia: effects on cognition, brain bioelectrical activity and cerebral hemodynamics. Methods Find.Exp Clin Pharmacol 2000;22(7):585-594. View abstract.
  • Capella Perez, M. C. and Castells, Rodellas A. [Double-blind study using "anapsos" 120 mg. in the treatment of psoriasis]. Actas Dermosifiliogr. 1981;72(9-10):487-494. View abstract.
  • Del Pino, Gamboa J., De Sambricio, Guiu F., and Colomo, Gomez C. [Comparative study between 120 mg. of anapsos and a placebo in 37 psoriasis patients]. Med Cutan Ibero.Lat.Am 1982;10(3):203-208. View abstract.
  • Del, PGJ, De, SGF, and Colomo, GC. Comparison of Polypodium leucotomis extract with placebo in 37 cases of psoriasis. Med Cutan Iber Lat Am 1982;10:203-208.
  • Jimenez, D., Naranjo, R., Doblare, E., Munoz, C., and Vargas, J. F. Anapsos, an antipsoriatic drug, in atopic dermatitis. Allergol.Immunopathol.(Madr.) 1987;15(4):185-189. View abstract.
  • Mercadal, Peyri O. and Maesci, Cappitanio F. [Preliminary communication on the treatment of psoriasis with anapsos]. Actas Dermosifiliogr. 1981;72(1-2):65-68. View abstract.
  • Middelkamp-Hup, M. A., Bos, J. D., Rius-Diaz, F., Gonzalez, S., and Westerhof, W. Treatment of vitiligo vulgaris with narrow-band UVB and oral Polypodium leucotomos extract: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 2007;21(7):942-950. View abstract.
  • Navarro-Blasco, F. J. and Sempere, J. M. Modification of the inflammatory activity of psoriatic arthritis in patients treated with extract of Polipodium leucotomos (Anapsos). Br J Rheumatol. 1998;37(8):912. View abstract.
  • Pineiro, Alvarez B. [2 years personal experience in anapsos treatment of psoriasis in various clinical forms]. Med Cutan Ibero.Lat.Am 1983;11(1):65-72. View abstract.
  • Ahmed AM, Lopez I, Perese F, et al. A randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial of oral Polypodium leucotomos extract as an adjunct to sunscreen in the treatment of melasma. JAMA Dermatol. 2013;149(8):981-3. View abstract.
  • Auriemma M, Di Nicola M, Gonzalez S, Piaserico S, Capo A, Amerio P. Polypodium leucotomos supplementation in the treatment of scalp actinic keratosis: could it improve the efficacy of photodynamic therapy? Dermatol Surg. 2015;41(8):898-902. View abstract.
  • Bernd A, Ramirez-Bosca A, Huber H, et al. In vitro studies on the immunomodulating effects of polypodium leucotomos extract on human leukocyte fractions. Arzneimittelforschung 1995;45:901-4.
  • Breithaupt AD, Jacob SE. Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus: a case report of Polypodium leucotomos as an adjuvant therapy. Cutis. 2012;89(4):183-4. View abstract.
  • Caccialanza M, Recalcati S, Piccinno R. Oral polypodium leucotomos extract photoprotective activity in 57 patients with idiopathic photodermatoses. G Ital Dermatol Venereol. 2011;146(2):85-7. View abstract.
  • Garcia F, Pivel JP, Guerrero A, et al. Phenolic components and antioxidant activity of Fernblock, an aqueous extract of the aerial parts of the fern Polypodium leucotomos. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol 2006;28:157-60. View abstract.
  • Goh CL, Chuah SY, Tien S, Thng G, Vitale MA, Delgado-Rubin A. Double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of Polypodium leucotomos extract in the treatment of melasma in Asian skin: a pilot study. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol 2018;11(3):14-19. View abstract.
  • Gonzalez S, Alcaraz MV, Cuevas J, et al. An extract of the fern Polypodium leucotomos (Difur) modulates Th1/Th2 cytokines balance in vitro and appears to exhibit anti-angiogenic activities in vivo: pathogenic relationships and therapeutic implications. Anticancer Res 2000;20:1567-75. View abstract.
  • Gonzalez S, Pathak MA, Cuevas J, et al. Topical or oral administration with an extract of Polypodium leucotomos prevents acute sunburn and psoralen-induced phototoxic reactions as well as depletion of Langerhans cells in human skin. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed 1997;13:50-60. View abstract.
  • Gonzalez S, Pathak MA. Inhibition of ultraviolet-induced formation of reactive oxygen species, lipid peroxidation, erythema and skin photosensitization by polypodium leucotomos. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed 1996;12:45-56. View abstract.
  • Middelkamp-Hup MA, Pathak MA, Parrado C, et al. Oral Polypodium leucotomos extract decreases ultraviolet-induced damage of human skin. J Am Acad Dermatol 2004;51:910-8. View abstract.
  • Middelkamp-Hup MA, Pathak MA, Parrado C, et al. Orally administered Polypodium leucotomos extract decreases psoralen-UVA-induced phototoxicity, pigmentation, and damage of human skin. J Am Acad Dermatol 2004;50:41-9. View abstract.
  • Mohammad A. Vitiligo repigmentation with Anapsos (Polypodium leucotomos). Int J Dermatol 1989;28:479. View abstract.
  • Padilla HC, Lainez H, Pacheco JA. A new agent (hydrophilic fraction of polypodium leucotomos) for management of psoriasis. Int J Dermatol 1974;13:276-82. View abstract.
  • Ramírez-Bosca A, Zapater P, Betlloch I, et al. Polypodium leucotomos extract in atopic dermatitis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial. Actas Dermosifiliogr. 2012;103(7):599-607. View abstract.
  • Sempere JM, Rodrigo C, Campos A, et al. Effect of Anapsos (Polypodium leucotomos extract) on in vitro production of cytokines. Br J Clin Pharmacol 1997;43:85-9. View abstract.
  • Tanew A, Radakovic S, Gonzalez S, Venturini M, Calzavara-Pinton P. Oral administration of a hydrophilic extract of Polypodium leucotomos for the prevention of polymorphic light eruption. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012;66(1):58-62. View abstract.
  • Villa A, Viera MH, Amini S, et al. Decrease of ultraviolet A light-induced "common deletion" in healthy volunteers after oral Polypodium leucotomos extract supplement in a randomized clinical trial. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010;62(3):511-3. View abstract.

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