Scarlet Pimpernel

Last Editorial Review: 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

Adder's Eyes, Anagallis arvensis, Hierba Coral, Miroir du Temps, Mouron des Champs, Mouron Rouge, Morgeline, Poor Man's Weatherglass, Red Chickweed, Red Pimpernel, Shepherd's Barometer.


Scarlet pimpernel is a plant. The parts that grow above the ground are used as medicine.

Despite serious safety concerns, people take scarlet pimpernel for depression, liver disorders, herpes, painful joints, and as supportive treatment of cancer. It is also used for painful kidney disorders, particularly those with swelling and an increase in urination.

Some people apply scarlet pimpernel directly to the skin for painful joints, poorly healing wounds, and itchiness.

How does it work?

Scarlet pimpernel contains chemicals that might have activity against some bacteria, fungi, and viruses. It also appears to have estrogen-like effects and might have negative effects on human sperm.


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Uses & Effectiveness

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Depression.
  • Liver disorders.
  • Herpes.
  • Cancer.
  • Kidney disorders.
  • Wounds, when applied to the skin.
  • Itching, when applied to the skin.
  • Painful joints, when taken by mouth or applied to the skin.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of scarlet pimpernel 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).

Side Effects

Scarlet pimpernel appears to be UNSAFE for long-term use when taken by mouth or applied to the skin. Scarlet pimpernel can cause swelling (inflammation) of the stomach, intestines, and kidneys with long-term use or high doses.

There isn't enough information to know if scarlet pimpernel is safe for short-term use.


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Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It's UNSAFE to use scarlet pimpernel if you are pregnant. It might make the uterus contract, and this could cause a miscarriage. Additionally, long-term use or high doses can lead to swelling of the stomach, intestines, and kidneys. The safety of short-term use is unknown. Stay on the safe side and avoid using scarlet pimpernel if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Scarlet pimpernel might act like estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don't use scarlet pimpernel.

Difficulty conceiving a child (infertility): Scarlet pimpernel might harm sperm. If you are a woman trying to conceive a child or a man trying to father a child, don't use scarlet pimpernel.


The appropriate dose of scarlet pimpernel 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 scarlet pimpernel. 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.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenicke C. PDR for Herbal Medicines. 1st ed. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company, Inc., 1998.