Podophyllum

What other names is Podophyllum known by?

American Mandrake, Citron Sauvage, Citronnier, Devil's Apple, Duck's Foot, Ground Lemon, Himalayan Mayapple, Hog Apple, Indian Apple, Indian Podophyllum, Ipécacuanha de la Caroline, Mandrake, Mayapple, Pa Giao Lian, Pied de Canard, Podófilo, Podophyllin, Podophyll Pelati Rhizoma/Resina, Podophylle, Podophylle en Bouclier, Podophylle à Feuilles Peltées, Podophylle Indien, Podophylle Pelté, Podophyllum emodi, Podophyllum hexandrum, Podophyllum peltatum, Pomme de Mai, Raccoon Berry, Sinopodophyllum emodi, Umbrella Plant, Vegetable Calomel, Vegetable Mercury, Wild Lemon, Wild Mandrake.

What is Podophyllum?

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.

Likely Effective for...

  • Genital warts. Applying podophyllum resin, also called podophyllin, as a 10% to 25% suspension in tincture of benzoin or as a 2% to 4% gel directly to the affected area is effective for the removal of warts caused by human papillomavirus. However, podophyllotoxin (podofilox, Condylox), a chemical found in podophyllum and an FDA-approved drug, is usually used instead because it is less toxic and might be more effective. But some research suggests that using a 20% podophyllum resin is equally effective as 8% solutions of podophyllotoxin or colchicine for removing penile warts.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Corns. Early research suggests that applying a specific product (Canthacur PS) containing cantharidin, salicylic acid, and 5% podophyllum resin to the affected area after corn removal can clear corns without causing scarring.
  • White patches growing on the tongue (hairy leukoplakia). Early research suggests that a single application of 25% podophyllum resin in tincture of benzoin to the affected area can help heal wounds caused by hairy leukoplakia. Other research shows that adding acyclovir cream to 25% podophyllum resin is more effective than the 25% podophyllum resin alone for treating oral leukoplakia.
  • Liver problems.
  • Cancer.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of podophyllum for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


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