Table of Contents > Herbs & Supplements > Podophyllum (Podophyllum hexandrum, Podophyllum peltatum) Print

Podophyllum (Podophyllum hexandrum, Podophyllum peltatum)


Also listed as: Podophyllum hexandrum, Podophyllum peltatum
Related terms

Related Terms
  • American mandrake, Araceae (family), bajiaolian, Berberidaceae (family), beta-peltatin, Condylox®, CPH 82, CPH 86, devil's apple, diphyllin, duck's foot, Dysosma pleianthum, epipodophyllotoxin, etoposide 7a, etophos 7b, ground lemon, Hakkakuren, highly purified podophyllotoxin, Himalayan mayapple, hog apple, Indian apple, Indian podophyllum, kampherol, mandrake, mayapple, Podocon-25®, podofilox, Podofin®, podophylli pelati rhizome/resina, podophyllic acid, podophyllin, podophyllinic acid ethylhydrazide, podophyllotoxin, podophyllotoxin-beta-o-benzyliden-glucoside (SP-G), podophyllotoxin derivatives, Podophyllum emodi, Podophyllum hexandrum, Podophyllum hexandrum Royale, podophyllum lignan, Podophyllum peltatum, Podophyllum peltatum L., Podophyllum pleianthum, podophyllum resin, Podophyllum versipelle, Proresid®, quercetin, raccoon berry, RP-1, semisynthetic podophyllotoxin glycosides, Sinopodophyllum emodi, SP-1, Syngonium podophyllum, teniposide 7c, umbrella plant, vegetable mercury, VePesid®, wild lemon, wild mandrake.
  • Note: This bottom line covers both American mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) and Himalayan mayapple (Podophyllum hexandrum or Podophyllum emodi). Although more research has been conducted on the American species, the Himalayan species has a higher content of the active ingredient podophyllotoxin.
  • Note: Podophyllum should not be confused with Mandragora officinarum, although both are commonly known as mandrake; podophyllum is potentially toxic when it is taken by mouth.

  • The roots of the podophyllum plant have a long history among native North American tribes as a laxative or anti-parasite agent. The powdered roots have also used to treat warts and tumorous growths on the skin.
  • Podophyllotoxin is a compound that comes from the American mayapple. It has been used to make two drugs called etoposide (an anti-cancer agent) and teniposide (an agent that treats leukemia). Podophyllotoxin is also found in the Himalayan mayapple in much greater amounts, but this plant is endangered in the wild. Podophyllotoxin is used in combination chemotherapy to treat lung cancer and a wide variety of tumors.
  • Extracts of the podophyllum plant are often applied to the skin to treat genital warts, mouth and tongue sores related to HIV, and some skin cancers. Evidence suggests that podophyllum may be effective in the treatment of warts on the penis. However, more research is needed to support podophyllum use for other types of warts.
  • Early research shows that CPH 82, a form of podophyllum that is taken by mouth, may be useful in treating rheumatoid arthritis. However, when taken by mouth, podophyllum can be lethal and should be avoided.

Evidence Table

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. GRADE *

Wart treatments applied to the skin include podophyllotoxin and podophyllin, a powder that is made from the podophyllum plant. The brand name drug Condylox® is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of warts in the genital area. Podophyllum preparations have been found to be effective in treating warts on the penis. Further high-quality research is needed before a firm conclusion regarding effectiveness can be made.


Early research suggests that a combination treatment with podophyllin may be an effective treatment for corns. Further high-quality research is needed to determine the effects of podophyllin alone.


Podophyllum may benefit people who have patches or sores in the mouth caused by HIV infection. A 25 percent resin solution has been found to be effective in the treatment of patches on the tongue. High-quality trials are needed before a firm conclusion can be made.


Early research suggests that podophyllum may benefit people who have rheumatoid arthritis. However, studies are limited due to the potential side effects of podophyllum when taken by mouth, including severe diarrhea. Further study is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.


Early evidence suggests that podophyllum may block cancer cell growth. It may also be an effective treatment when used with radiation therapy for uterine cancer. Further research is needed before a strong conclusion can be made.

* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)

Tradition / Theory

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.

  • Abortion, antibacterial, breast cancer, constipation, fertility, fever, Hodgkin's disease (cancer of the lymph tissue), insecticide, intestinal worms, jaundice, laxative, leukemia, liver disorders, liver inflammation, melanoma (skin cancer), mental disorders, nausea or vomiting, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (cancer of the lymph tissue), skin wounds, snake venom antidote, syphilis, tinea capitis (fungal infection of the scalp).


Adults (18 years and older):

  • For rheumatoid arthritis, 300 milligrams of CPH 82 (made with components of podophyllum) has been taken by mouth daily for 12 weeks.
  • For mouth sores or patches caused by HIV, a 25 percent podophyllum resin solution has been applied to the mouth for 30 days.
  • For warts on the genitals and feet, 5 milliliters of 0.5 percent podophyllin and 2 percent podophyllin has been applied to the skin twice daily, three days a week for five weeks. A 2-25 percent podophyllin gel has been applied to the vagina every other day or once weekly for 4-8 weeks. A 0.15-0.5 percent podophyllotoxin cream or solution (Wartec®, Warticon®, Stiefel) has been applied to the skin twice daily for three days, sometimes repeated weekly for up to four weeks. A 25 percent podophyllin tincture has been applied to the skin twice weekly for four weeks. A 0.5 percent podophyllotoxin gel has been applied to the skin for 2-7 days or until full recovery. An 8 percent podophyllotoxin solution, 20 percent Podophyllum peltatum solution, or 20 percent Podophyllum emodi solution has been applied to the skin for 6-8 hours before being washed off, with another treatment if necessary one week later.

Children (younger than 18 years):

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


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.


  • Avoid in people with known allergy or sensitivity to podophyllum or to members of the same family.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Podophyllum is possibly safe when applied to the skin appropriately for up to eight weeks. It is possibly safe when taken by mouth appropriately in the form of CPH 82, which is made from components of podophyllum, for up to 12 weeks.
  • Podophyllum may cause abnormal heart rhythms, allergic skin symptoms (burning sensation, irritation, itching, pain, stinging, swelling, and ulcers), bad or bitter taste, bile stimulation, birth defects, bowel blockage, changes in cell growth, confusion, decreased electrolytes, decreased muscle tone, dehydration, diarrhea (sometimes bloody or watery), digestive tract pain and inflammation, dizziness, fetal deaths, hallucinations, hair loss, irritation of the stomach and intestines, kidney failure, liver problems, low levels of white blood cells, low potassium levels, metabolic changes, mouth inflammation, movement disorders, muscle problems (fatigue, fiber breakdown, pain, paralysis, soreness, and weakness), nausea and vomiting, reduced nail growth, retinoblastoma (tumor of the retina of the eye), seizures, stomach pain, tenderness of the tongue, urinary problems (inability to empty the bladder), and worsening of mental illness symptoms.
  • Podophyllum may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking drugs or herbs and supplements that lower blood pressure.
  • Use cautiously in people who have Crohn's disease or irritable bowel syndrome, heart disorders, kidney or liver dysfunction, mental illness, muscle disorders, nervous system disorders, and skin conditions.
  • Use cautiously in people who are taking agents for mental illnesses, antimitotic agents (agents that block cancer cell growth, such as vincristine), and cholesterol-lowering agents (such as simvastatin).
  • Avoid in people with known allergy or sensitivity to podophyllum or to members of the same family.
  • Avoid in people who have gallbladder disease or gallstones, those who are taking laxatives, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and children.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • There is a lack of scientific evidence on the use of podophyllum during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Avoid in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to reports of birth defects and fetal death.


Interactions with Drugs

  • Podophyllum may cause low blood pressure and abnormal heart rhythms. Caution is advised in people taking drugs that lower blood pressure.
  • Podophyllum may also interact with agents for arthritis, agents for the blood, agents for the eyes, agents for the kidneys, agents for mental illnesses, agents for the nervous system, agents for the skin, agents for the stomach and intestines, agents that protect against radiation, agents that are toxic to the liver, agents that regulate heart rate, agents that stimulate the central nervous system, antibiotics, anticancer agents (including paclitaxel and vincristine), laxatives, muscle relaxants, and simvastatin.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Podophyllum may cause low blood pressure and abnormal heart rhythms. Caution is advised in people taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.
  • Podophyllum may also interact with antibacterials, anticancer herbs and supplements, antioxidants, herbs and supplements for arthritis, herbs and supplements for the blood, herbs and supplements for the eyes, herbs and supplements for the kidneys, herbs and supplements for mental illnesses, herbs and supplements for the nervous system, herbs and supplements for the skin, herbs and supplements for the stomach and intestines, herbs and supplements that protect against radiation, herbs and supplements that are toxic to the liver, herbs and supplements that regulate heart rate, laxatives, muscle relaxants, and stimulants.

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

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Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (

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.

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