American Aspidium, Bear's Paw, Dryoptère Fougère Mâle, Dryopteris filix-mas, European Aspidium, Fougère Mâle, Helecho Macho, Knotty Brake, Marginal Fern, Shield Fern.


Overview Information

Male fern is a very poisonous plant. Taking it by mouth can cause death. Despite these serious safety concerns, some people use the leaf and other parts that grow above the ground, as well as the underground stem (rhizome), to make medicine.

Male fern is used to treat nosebleeds, heavy menstrual bleeding, wounds, and tumors. It is also used to expel worms, typically tapeworms, from the intestines.

Some veterinarians use male fern to treat worms in animals.

How does it work?

Male fern contains chemicals that can kill intestinal worms such as tapeworms. Once the worms have been killed, salt water (saline) is taken to flush them from the body.


Uses & Effectiveness?

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Nosebleeds.
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding.
  • Wounds.
  • Tumor.
  • Tapeworms.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of male fern for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

Male fern is UNSAFE. It is a violent poison and should not be taken by mouth. In fact, Canada requires that male fern products be labeled “For external use only.” Since there are other products available that are effective and safer than male fern, there is no reason to use it.

Side effects caused by taking male fern can be serious and include breathing difficulty, nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, headaches, tremors, convulsions, heart and lung failure, eye disorders, muscular weakness, coma, temporary or permanent blindness, and death.

Treatment of overdose consists of giving salt water followed by other special fluids. It is important to avoid fats and oils because they increase the amount of male fern that is absorbed by the body. If seizures occur, benzodiazepines may be used, and a breathing machine may be necessary.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Male fern shouldn't be used by anyone. Some people may be at even higher risk of side effects.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Male fern is UNSAFE for anyone to take as medicine. If you take it while pregnant or breast-feeding, you will endanger yourself as well as your baby.

Stomach and intestinal conditions: Stomach and intestinal conditions that increase digestion time might increase the amount of male fern that is absorbed in the intestine. This bigger dose of male fern could lead to more serious side effects.



We currently have no information for MALE FERN Interactions.



The appropriate dose of male fern 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 male fern. 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


  • Fetrow CW, Avila JR. Professional's Handbook of Complementary & Alternative Medicines. 1st ed. Springhouse, PA: Springhouse Corp., 1999.

Vitamins Survey

Have you ever purchased MALE FERN?

Did you or will you purchase this product in-store or online?

Where did you or where do you plan to purchase this product?

Where did you or where do you plan to purchase this product?

What factors influenced or will influence your purchase? (check all that apply)

Vitamins Survey

Where did you or where do you plan to purchase this product?

Do you buy vitamins online or instore?

What factors are most important to you? (check all that apply)

This survey is being conducted by the WebMD marketing sciences department.Read More

More Resources for MALE FERN

CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version.
© Therapeutic Research Faculty .