Fumaria

While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • Bastard’s fumitory, common fumitory, Cornish fumitory, dense-flowered fumitory, drug fumitory, earth smoke, few-flowered fumitory, fineleaf fumitory, flor de pajarito (Spanish), fumaria, Fumaria asepala, Fumaria bastardii, Fumaria bella, Fumaria capreolata, Fumaria cilicica, Fumaria densiflora, Fumaria flabellata, Fumaria hygrometrica, Fumaria indica, Fumaria judaica, Fumaria kralikii, Fumaria macrocarpa, Fumaria martinii, Fumaria muralis, Fumaria occidentalis, Fumaria officinalis, Fumaria parviflora, Fumaria petteri, Fumaria purpurea, Fumaria reuteri, Fumaria schleicheri, Fumaria vaillantii, Fumariaceae, fumariline, fumeterre, fuyuziphine, Martin’s fumitory, Oddibil®, Papaveraceae, protopine, purple ramping fumitory, sanguinarine, shahterah, tall ramping fumitory, wall fumitory, western fumitory, white ramping fumitory.

Background

  • Fumaria, also called fumitory, is an annual flowering plant native to parts of Europe and Asia. There are about 50 different species of fumaria, and Fumaria officinalis is the most common variety.

  • The plant contains compounds called alkaloids, which are believed to treat muscle spasms and skin disease. Oddibil®, an Austrian drug made from fumaria, is marketed as a treatment for gallbladder disease.

Scientific Evidence

Uses

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.

Abdominal pain (cholecystopathy)

An Austrian preparation of Fumaria, called Oddibil®, has been used to treat symptoms of cholecystopathy (gallbladder disease). Further research is required before conclusions can be made.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Preliminary research has investigated the potential benefits of Fumaria officinalis in treating symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, including abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. More studies are needed before conclusions can be made.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. 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 health care professional.

  • Acne, allergy, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiplatelet (blood thinner), biliary colic (gallstones), constipation, coronary artery disease (blood vessel-narrowing disease), depression, dermatitis (skin inflammation), diarrhea, diuretic (promotes urination), eczema (skin rash), fever, hepatoprotection (liver health), parasite infection, scabies (a skin disease), skin cancer, spasmolytic (treats muscle spasms).

Dosing

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)

  • Fumaria has been given in the form of a syrup, powder, decoction, extract, cataplasm, distilled water, and tincture.

  • To treat muscle spasms associated with stomach and intestinal disorders, 250-milligram capsules of Oddibil® have been taken by mouth.

  • To treat skin problems, a 1:5 tincture of fumaria in 25% alcohol has been taken by mouth in doses of 1-2 milliliters three times daily. Doses of 1-4 milliliters of a 1:5 liquid extract of fumaria in a 45% alcohol solution have been taken by mouth. Various topical preparations containing fumaria have been applied to the skin.

  • To treat irritable bowel syndrome, 1,500 milligrams of fumaria has been taken daily in three divided doses for 18 weeks.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for fumaria in children.

Safety

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 people who are allergic or sensitive to fumaria or its parts.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Fumaria may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in people with bleeding disorders or those taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.

  • Drowsiness or sedation may occur. Use caution if driving or operating heavy machinery.

  • Avoid in people who have biliary tract obstruction, gallstones, or jaundice.

  • Avoid in children under age 12.

  • Fumaria may also cause eye problems (such as glaucoma), flushing, hepatitis, and stomach problems.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • There is currently a lack of scientific evidence on the use of fumaria during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Interactions

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

  • Fumaria may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).

  • Fumaria may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some drugs. Examples include benzodiazepines such as lorazepam (Ativan®) or diazepam (Valium®), barbiturates such as phenobarbital, narcotics such as codeine, some antidepressants, and alcohol. Caution is advised while driving or operating machinery.

  • Fumaria may also interact with acne medication, agents that may treat muscle spasms, anticancer agents, antifungal agents, anti-inflammatory agents, antiparasitics, antipyretics (agents that may reduce fever), antiviral agents, central nervous system (CNS) depressants, cholinesterase inhibitors, and heart health agents.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Fumaria may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.

  • Fumaria may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some herbs or supplements.

  • Fumaria may also interact with acne-treating herbs and supplements, anticancer herbs and supplements, antifungal herbs and supplements, anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements, antiparasitic herbs and supplements, antipyretics (herbs and supplements that may reduce fever), central nervous system (CNS) depressants, cholinergics, heart health herbs and supplements, and herbs and supplements that may treat muscle spasms.

Author Information

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

References

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 www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Bhatti M. Isolation and structural studies on the chemical constituents of fumaria indica and related medicinal plants. 1998.
  2. Blasko G, Hussain SF, and Shamma M. Corlumine, a new phthalideisoquinoline alkaloid from Fumaria parviflora. Journal of Natural Products 1981;44:475-477.
  3. Colton MD, Guinaudeau H, Shamma M, et al. (\-/)-Norfumaritine: a new spirobenzylisoquinoline alkaloid from Fumaria kralikii. Journal of Natural Products 1985;48:846-847.
  4. Dasgupta B, Seth KK, Pandey VB, et al. Alkaloids of Fumaria indica: Further Studies on Narceimine and Narlumidine. Planta Med 1984;50(6):481-485. View Abstract
  5. Forgacs P. Presence of rhoeagenine in Fumaria parviflora. Journal of Natural Products 1985;48:1000-1001.
  6. Kumar A, Pandey VB, Seth KK, et al. Pharmacological actions of fumariline isolated from Fumaria indica seeds. Planta Med 1986;(4):324-325. View Abstract
  7. Pandey MB, Singh AK, Singh JP, et al. Fuyuziphine, a new alkaloid from Fumaria indica. Nat.Prod.Res. 4-15-2008;22(6):533-536. View Abstract
  8. Popova ME, Simanek V, Dolejs L, et al. Alkaloids from Fumaria parviflora and F. kralikii*. Planta Med 1982;45(6):120-122. View Abstract
  9. Popova ME, Simanek V, Novak J, et al. Alkaloids of Fumaria densiflora*. Planta Med 1983;48(8):272-274. View Abstract
  10. Sener B. Densiflorine, a new alkaloid from Fumaria densiflora DC. Int.J.Crude Drug Res 1984;22:79-80.
  11. Sener B. Turkish species of Fumaria L. and their alkaloids. Part 8. Alkaloids of Fumaria macrocarpa Parlatore. Int.J.Crude Drug Res. 1986;22:185-187.
  12. Sturm S, Strasser EM, and Stuppner H. Quantification of Fumaria officinalis isoquinoline alkaloids by nonaqueous capillary electrophoresis-electrospray ion trap mass spectrometry. J Chromatogr.A 4-21-2006;1112(1-2):331-338. View Abstract
  13. Suau R, Cabezudo B, Rico R, et al. Direct determination of alkaloid contents in Fumaria species by GC-MS. Phytochem.Anal. 2002;13(6):363-367. View Abstract
  14. Valka I, Walterova D, Popova ME, et al. Separation and Quantification of Some Alkaloids from Fumaria parviflora by Capillary Isotachophoresis1. Planta Med 1985;51(4):319-322. View Abstract
  15. Wynne PM, Vine JH, and Amiet RG. Protopine alkaloids in horse urine. J Chromatogr.B Analyt.Technol.Biomed.Life Sci 11-5-2004;811(1):85-91. View Abstract

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.