Venus hair fern (Adianthum capillus veneris - Avenca)  250g Maximize

Venus hair fern (Adianthum capillus veneris - Avenca) 250g

Venus hair fern (Adianthum capillus veneris - Avenca)  250g

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Venus hair fern

(Adianthum capillus veneris - Avenca)



Family: Adiantaceae
Genus: Adiantum
Species: capillus-veneris
Synonyms: Adiantum capillus, A. michelii, A. modestum, A. schaffneri, A. tenerum
Common Names: avenca, maidenhair fern, adianto, alambrillo, barun, cabello de venus, capilera, capille e jenere, celantillo, centaurea, cilantrillo, culandrillo, culantrillo de pozo, culantrillo, fern karn dam, frauenhaar, hansraj, helecho culantrillo, herba capillorum veneris, ladies' hair, venus hair fern
Part Used: Leaves, rhizome

From The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs:

Main Actions Other Actions Standard Dosage
  • suppresses coughs
  • dries secretions
Leaves or rhizome
  • reduces phlegm
  • protects liver
Infusion: 1/2 cup twice daily
  • kills viruses
  • reduces cholesterol
Tincture: 1-3 ml twice daily
  • kills bacteria
  • reduces blood pressure
Capsules: 2 g twice daily
  • detoxifies
  • stimulates
  • fights free radicals
  • supports gallbladder
  • supports heart
  • heals wounds
  • cleanses blood
  • increases urination
  • lowers blood sugar
  • stimulates menstruation


Avenca is a small, slow-growing evergreen fern found throughout the world in moist forests. It reaches 35 cm tall, growing in stands from its creeping rhizome, and bears leaves up to 50 cm long. It can be found in the rainforests of the Amazon as well as in the more temperate, moist forests of Southern Europe and the United States (where it is commonly referred to as maidenhair fern). It is called culantrillo in Peru and avencain Brazil. These days avenca can be found in many plant stores and nurseries where it is sold as an ornamental landscape fern for shade gardens.


In the Peruvian Amazon, local people prepare the fronds of the plant as an infusion or syrup and use it as a diuretic, as an expectorant and to calm coughs, to promote perspiration and menstruation, and to treat urinary disorders, colds, rheumatism, heartburn, gallstones, alopecia (hair loss), and sour stomach. In the highlands of the Peruvian Andes, local shamans and healers decoct the rhizome and use it for alopecia, gallstones, and jaundice. In the Brazilian Amazon, it is recommended as a good expectorant and used for bronchitis, coughs, and other respiratory problems.

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." In France, the fronds and rhizomes were once made into a syrup called "Sirop de Capillaire," which was a favorite medicine for upper respiratory problems such as coughs and excessive mucus. The plant is also used widely throughout the world for dandruff, hair loss, and menstrual difficulties.

In Brazilian herbal medicine today, the frond and leaf are employed for hair loss, coughs, bronchitis, laryngitis and throat dryness, and to improve appetite and digestion, stimulate renal function, regulate menstruation, and facilitate childbirth. In Peruvian herbal medicine, the frond and rhizome are used for hair loss, gallstones, hepatic calculi, hydrophobia, asthma, coughs, catarrh, and to regulate menstruation. In India, the entire plant is used for its cooling effects, for diabetes, colds, bronchial disease, and for its menstrual promoting properties. Externally it is used for boils, eczema, and wounds.


Chemical analysis of avenca reveals an array of compounds including triterpenes, flavonoids, phenylpropanoids, and carotenoids. Interestingly, despite its ancient use, there has been no specific research on avenca to isolate and test its chemicals for biological activities.

Adiantone, adiantoxide, astragalin, beta-sitosterol, caffeic acids, caffeylgalactose, caffeylglucose, campesterol, carotenes, coumaric acids, coumarylglucoses, diplopterol, epoxyfilicane, fernadiene, fernene, filicanes, hopanone, hydroxy-adiantone, hydroxy-cinnamic acid, isoadiantone, isoquercetin, kaempferols, lutein, mutatoxanthin, naringin, neoxanthin, nicotiflorin, oleananes, populnin, procyanidin, prodelphinidin, quercetins, querciturone, quinic acid, rhodoxanthin, rutin, shikimic acid, violaxanthin, and zeaxanthin are chemicals found in avenca.


The plant has demonstrated little toxicity. However, in animal studies, it has been shown to have an antifertility effect. In the 1980s, two separate researchers in India found that a pet ether extract of the plant had an anti-implantation effect in rats, preventing conception.

In 1989 scientists in Iraq demonstrated avenca's antimicrobial properties. A methanol extract of the aerial parts was reported to have in vitroantimicrobial actions against Bacillus, E. coli, Staphylococcus, Proteus, Pseudomonas, and Candida. French scientists demonstrated that an ethanol extract of the rhizome evidenced antiviral properties in vitroagainst Vesicular stomatitis virus. Other early (1967) research showed that a water extract of the entire plant had hypoglycemic activity when given to mice (10 mg/kg) orally. Much later (in 1993), Belgium scientists confirmed that avenca leaves had in vivo hypoglycemic properties in mice. In one study, a water extract of the aerial parts was given to mice (25 mg/kg) orally and found to reduce glucose-induced hyperglycemia. An ethanol extract, however, showed no activity. They reconfirmed these findings in 1995 by demonstrating that a water extract reduced glucose-induced hyperglycemia.


Despite the plant's ancient history of use for respiratory disorders, no clinical research has been done to validate these traditional uses. In spite of the lack of scientific research done on avenca, herbalists and healthcare practitioners throughout the world continue to use the plant based on its traditional uses (for literally thousands of years): for respiratory disorders and hair loss, and to regulate menstruation.


Main Preparation Method:fluid extract or infusion

Main Actions (in order):
cough suppressant, decongestant, expectorant, menstrual stimulant, antimicrobial

Main Uses:

  1. for respiratory problems (coughs, bronchitis, colds, flu, pneumonia, excessive mucous/phlegm)
  2. for hair loss
  3. for gallstones
  4. for menstrual disorders (interruption or absence of menstrual cycle)
  5. 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.

Traditional Preparation: One-half cup leaf infusion twice daily or 1-3 ml of a 4:1 root tincture used twice daily. If desired, 1 - 2 g of powdered leaf or root in tablets or capsules twice daily can be substituted. SeeTraditional Herbal Remedies Preparation Methods page if necessary for definitions.


  • Avenca has been documented to lower blood sugar levels in animal studies. People with diabetes and people with hypoglycemia should use this plant with caution and monitor their blood sugar levels accordingly.
  • Avenca has a long history of use in herbal medicine systems to stimulate the uterus and promote menstruation; it is contraindicated in pregnancy.
  • 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.
  • 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.




Amazonia for blood cleansing, coughs, excessive mucous, menstrual problems, respiratory problems, urinary disorders, urinary insufficiency, and to increase perspiration
Brazil for asthma, bronchitis, childbirth, cough, digestion, excessive mucous, flu, hair loss, kidney problems, laryngitis, menstrual disorders, respiratory problems, rheumatism, throat (sore) urinary insufficiency, and to stimulate the appetite
Egypt for asthma, chest colds, cough, edema, flu, hepatitis, snakebite, spider bite, splenitis, urinary insufficiency, and to increase perspiration
England for asthma, cough, hair loss, jaundice, kidney stones, menstrual disorders, pleurisy, shortness of breath, swellings, urinary insufficiency, yellow jaundice
Europe for alcoholism, bronchitis, bronchial diseases, cough, dandruff, detoxification, diabetes, excessive mucous, flu, hair loss, menstrual problems and to sooth mucous membranes
India for boils, bronchial diseases, colds, diabetes, eczema, fever, menstrual problems, skin diseases, wounds
Iraq for bronchitis, colds, cough, excessive mucous, flu, menstrual disorders, respiratory difficulty, reducing secretions, urinary insufficiency and to increase perspiration
Mexico for birth control, bladder problems, blood cleansing, constipation, hair loss, kidney stones, liver function, menstrual disorders, respiratory distress
Peru for asthma, colds, cough, congestion, excessive mucous, flu, gallstones, hair loss, heartburn, hydrophobia, liver problems, menstrual disorders, respiratory problems, sore throat, stomach problems, urinary insufficiency, and to increase perspiration
U.S. for chills, coughs, excessive mucous, fever, flu, lung problems, menstrual disorders, menstrual pain, respiratory ailments, sclerosis (spleen), sores, urinary insufficiency and to sooth membranes and increase perspiration



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Venus hair fern (Adianthum capillus veneris - Avenca)  250g

Venus hair fern (Adianthum capillus veneris - Avenca) 250g

Venus hair fern (Adianthum capillus veneris - Avenca)  250g

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