Ragwort, Senecio Herb, Senecio nemorensis, Séneçon des Bois, Séneçon des Forêts, Séneçon des Sarrasins, Séneçon Hercynien.
Alpine ragwort is a plant. The parts that grow above the ground are used to make medicine.
Some women use it to cause the uterus to contract.
Don't confuse golden ragwort (Senecio aureus) with alpine ragwort. Both are sometimes called “squaw weed.”
How does it work?
There's not enough information to know how alpine ragwort might work.
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...
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).
There's a lot of concern about using alpine ragwort as medicine, because it contains chemicals called hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), which may block blood flow in the veins and cause liver damage. Hepatotoxic PAs might also cause cancer and birth defects. Alpine ragwort preparations that are not certified and labeled “hepatotoxic PA-free” are considered UNSAFE.
It's also UNSAFE to apply alpine ragwort to broken skin. The dangerous chemicals in alpine ragwort can be absorbed quickly through broken skin and can lead to dangerous body-wide toxicity. Steer clear of skin products that aren't certified and labeled “hepatotoxic PA-free.” There isn't enough information to know if it's safe to apply alpine ragwort to unbroken skin. It's best to avoid use.
It's also UNSAFE to use alpine ragwort preparations that might contain hepatotoxic PAs if you are breast-feeding. These chemicals can pass into breast-milk and might harm the nursing infant.
It's not known whether products that are certified hepatotoxic PA-free are safe to use during pregnancy or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid using any alpine ragwort preparation if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
Allergy to ragweed and related plants: Alpine ragwort may cause an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to the Asteraceae/Compositae plant family. Members of this family include ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many others. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking alpine ragwort.
Liver disease: There is concern that the hepatotoxic PAs in alpine ragwort might make liver disease worse. Stay on the safe side and avoid using any alpine ragwort preparation if you have liver disease.
Medications that increase break down of other medications by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 [CYP3A4] inducers)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.
Alpine ragwort is broken down by the liver. Some chemicals that form when the liver breaks down alpine ragwort can be harmful. Medications that cause the liver to break down alpine ragwort might enhance the toxic effects of chemicals contained in alpine ragwort.
The appropriate dose of alpine ragwort 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 alpine ragwort. 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.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Chojkier M. Hepatic sinusoidal-obstruction syndrome: toxicity of pyrrolizidine alkaloids. J Hepatol 2003;39:437-46. View abstract.
Food and Drug Administration. FDA Advises Dietary Supplement Manufacturers to Remove Comfrey Products From the Market. July 6, 2001. Available at: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/dspltr06.html.
Roeder E. Medicinal plants in Europe containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Pharmazie 1995;50:83-98.
Wang YP, Yan J, Fu PP, Chou MW. Human liver microsomal reduction of pyrrolizidine alkaloid N-oxides to form the corresponding carcinogenic parent alkaloid. Toxicol Lett 2005;155:411-20. View abstract.
WHO working group. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Environmental Health Criteria, 80. WHO: Geneva, 1988.