Alternate Title

  • Ranunculus bulbosus

Related Terms

  • Anemonic acid, anemonin, bachelor’s buttons, bachelor’s cheese, blister flower, blister plant, blister weed, bouton d’or (French), bulbosus, bulbous crowfoot, burrwort, butter and cheese, buttercup, butter flower, butterrose, common buttercup, crazy weed, crazyweed, crowfoot, cuckoo-buds of yellow hue, cuckow buds of yellow hue, field buttercup, frogsfoot, giltcup, goldcup, goldknob, gowan, jaunet (French), kingcups, L-caffeoylglucose, meadow bloom, meadow buttercup, protoanemonin, Ranunculaceae (family), ranunculin, Ranunculus acris, Ranunculus bulbosus, St. Anthony’s rape, St. Anthony’s turnip, tall crowfoot, tall field buttercup, upright meadow crowfoot, yellow weed.

Background

  • Bulbous buttercup (Ranunculus bulbosus) is named for the uniquely bulbous, white protrusion that is found at the base of the stem. The common name “blister plant” comes from the blistering that occurs in the mouth and intestinal tract when cattle eat the plant.
  • More than a century ago, bulbous buttercup was recommended by herbalists for resolving dermatologic, rheumatologic, gastrointestinal, and dental complaints. When rubbed on the skin, bulbous buttercup causes blistering, swelling, and topical ulcers, which were said to alleviate pain topically as well as subcutaneously. All parts of the acrid plants were used to induce vomiting and diarrhea upon ingestion. As a painkiller, the plant was stuffed into dental cavities and its infusions were rubbed on the gums of teething infants.
  • Bulbous buttercup contains acrid, harsh chemicals that cause uncomfortable and severe reactions wherever it comes into contact with the body. Because of this, bulbous buttercup is not a frequently used herbal plant today. All parts of the bulbous buttercup are now known to be poisonous. The active properties of bulbous buttercup are thought to be destroyed upon heating or drying. There are no available high-quality clinical trials evaluating the use of bulbous buttercup for medicinal purposes.

Evidence Table

    Disclaimer

    These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

    Disclaimer

    The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

Dosing

    Disclaimer

    The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

  • Adults (18 years and older)

    • There is no proven safe or effective dose for bulbous buttercup. Tea made from fresh leaves has been used for gastrointestinal upset, and decoctions of bulbous buttercup have been used to treat sexually transmitted diseases. Tinctures taken by mouth have also been used for sciatica and shingles.
    • Fresh root put in the tooth cavity has been used for dental cavity pain, and the juice of fresh bulbous buttercup has been applied to nostrils to induce sneezing for the relief of headache. For pain and rheumatism, freshly ground upper parts of the plant rubbed directly on the area of pain to form blisters has been used.
  • Children (younger than 18 years)

    • There is no proven safe or effective dose for bulbous buttercup. However, 1 tablespoon of cooled infusion (2 drachms of fresh root cut into small pieces infused in 1 pint of hot water) has been used for obstinate sore mouth.

Safety

    Disclaimer

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

  • Allergies

    • Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to bulbous buttercup (Ranunculus bulbosus).
  • Side Effects and Warnings

    • There are currently a lack of high quality studies on the medicinal applications of bulbous buttercup, and the following adverse effect information is based on traditional use and expert opinion. Bulbous buttercup is very acrid, and application on the skin may cause blisters, swelling, and inflammation of surrounding skin and subcutaneous tissues. Taking bulbous buttercup by mouth may cause vomiting, diarrhea, blistering in the mouth, and abdominal pain. Protoanemonin, a constituent of bulbous buttercup, may also cause ventricular fibrillation (a heart rhythm disorder) and respiratory failure. Bulbous buttercup may also be toxic to the liver if taken by mouth (hepatotoxic), and may cause pleurodynia (pain in the chest). Juice of bulbous buttercup may cause sneezing if applied to the nostrils.
    • Bulbous buttercup is likely unsafe when used in patients with compromised liver function, cardiovascular conditions, respiratory conditions, diarrhea, vomiting, skin conditions, or gastrointestinal disorders or obstructions.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

    • The use of bulbous buttercup is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.

Interactions

    Disclaimer

    Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

  • Interactions with Drugs

    • Bulbous buttercup may cause ventricular fibrillation. Patients taking anti-arrhythmic medications should use bulbous buttercup with caution.
    • Bulbous buttercup may cause vomiting. Caution is advised in patients taking other herbs or supplements that induce vomiting.
    • Bulbous buttercup may be hepatotoxic (liver damaging). Patients taking medications that may also be liver damaging should consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist.
    • Protoanemonin, a constituent of bulbous buttercup, may cause respiratory failure at toxic doses. Patients taking bulbous buttercup in combination with other medications with respiratory side effects should use with caution. Consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, before combining any therapies.
  • Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

    • Bulbous buttercup may cause ventricular fibrillation. Patients taking anti-arrhythmic herbs and supplements should use bulbous buttercup with caution.
    • Bulbous buttercup may cause vomiting. Caution is advised in patients taking other herbs or supplements that induce vomiting.
    • Bulbous buttercup may be hepatotoxic (liver damaging). Patients taking herbs or supplements that may also be liver damaging, such as kava, should consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist.
    • Protoanemonin, a constituent of bulbous buttercup, may cause respiratory failure at toxic doses. Patients taking bulbous buttercup in combination with other herbs and supplements with respiratory side effects should use with caution.

Attribution

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration ().

Bibliography

    Disclaimer

    Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to . Selected references are listed below.

  • Kelch WJ, Kerr LA, Adair HS, et al. Suspected buttercup (Ranunculus bulbosus) toxicosis with secondary photosensitization in a Charolais heifer. Vet.Hum.Toxicol 1992;34(3):238-239.
    View Abstract
  • Mares D. Antimicrobial activity of protoanemonin, a lactone from ranunculaceous plants. Mycopathologia 1987;98(3):133-140.
    View Abstract
  • McGovern TW, Lawarre SR. Botanical briefs: buttercup Ranunculus species L. Cutis 2002;69(3):171-172.
    View Abstract