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Ostrich Fern

What other names is Ostrich Fern known by?

Fiddlehead Fern, Fougère d'Allemagne, Fougère Autruche, Fougère à l'Autruche, Fougère de l'Autruche, Fougère Plume d'Autruche, Garden Fern, Hardy Fern, Helecho de Pluma de Avestruz, Matteuccia struthiopteris, Matteucie Fougère-à-l'Autruche, Osmunda struthiopteris, Ptérétide Noduleuse, Struthioptéride Germanique.

What is Ostrich Fern?

Ostrich fern is a plant. The young shoots of ostrich fern, known as fiddleheads, are used to make medicine.

People use ostrich fern as a gargle for sore throat.

Ostrich fern is sometimes applied directly to the skin for wounds and boils.

In foods, fiddleheads are regarded as a seasonal delicacy. They are available canned, frozen, or fresh. Fresh fiddleheads must be boiled at least 10 minutes before eating. Otherwise they can cause severe food poisoning.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Sore throat, when used as a gargle.
  • Wounds, when applied to the skin.
  • Boils, when applied to the skin.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of ostrich fern for these uses.

How does Ostrich Fern work?

Ostrich fern might act like a laxative. Otherwise, there isn't enough information to know how it might work.

Are there safety concerns?

Ostrich fern seems to be safe for most people when used as a food, as long as it is boiled for at least 10 minutes before eating. Eating ostrich fern that has not been properly boiled can cause nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, headaches, and severe food poisoning.

There isn't enough information to know whether it's safe to use boiled ostrich fern as a medicine.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of ostrich fern during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Dosing considerations for Ostrich Fern.

The appropriate dose of ostrich fern 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 ostrich fern. 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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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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Reviewed on 9/17/2019

Centers for Disease Control and Prev. Ostrich fern poisoning New York and western Canada, 1994. JAMA 1995;273:912-3.


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