Male-fern is a perennial spore plant that has neither flowers nor a stem. It reaches a height of 1m. The rhizome is thick, up to 30 cm long, obliquely raised, covered with small roots. Root leaves, dark green, collected in bunches. The leaf plates are elongated elliptic, double tufted, 40-100 cm long. Primary particles linear lanceolate, secondary ones elongated. Spores are formed on the underside of the particles, they are arranged in two rows along the middle vein and are covered with a bud-like screen that falls off.
Male-fern roots are dug in early spring, until the above-ground part of the plant begins to develop, or in early autumn. They are cleaned of soil, fine roots, dead parts, leaves and damaged parts. Cut into pieces that can be immediately used for processing - to prepare Male-fern extract, and it can also be dried in a well-ventilated place or in forced dryers not exceeding 40C. The roots have a sweet, astringent taste that soon becomes unpleasant. The aroma is light, inconspicuous. The finished drug can be stored for up to one year, but already from the first day of storage, its properties against worms decrease.
The root of the plant contains fluoroglycides - phenolic compounds - filicin and flavaspidic acid, aspidinol, albaspidin, etc. The root contains about 7-8% tannins, bitter substances, starch. The plant concentrates iron, zinc and selenium.
The medicinal as well as toxic properties of Male-fern are related to fluoroglycides present in the plant and their breakdown products. These substances are a powerful poison that paralyzes the smooth muscles of worms. A couple of days before using preparations of this plant, the patient should be provided with a fat-free diet. Before use, the intestines can be cleansed with the help of an enema and a laxative.
Male-fern remedies are used on an empty stomach, after use, drink a laxative again. It is only necessary to understand that this method of treatment is, to put it mildly, outdated and can affect not only the smooth muscles of the worms, but also affect the human CNS and cause heart problems. It may be more valuable to use a safer methodology against these intestinal parasites.
However, these are not the only valuable properties of Male-fern , the same fluoroglycides can inhibit the induction of malignant cells, flavonoids have immunostimulating and antiviral properties. Research on the preparations of this plant is ongoing and perhaps, apart from their anthelmintic properties, others will be known.
In folk medicine, Male-fern is used not only as an anthelmintic. Decoctions and infusions are used externally to treat eczematous wounds, purulent wounds, varicose dermatitis, joint diseases, epistaxis, neuralgia, convulsions and rheumatism. Applications, ointments are made from the plant, used in baths, rubbed.