Maidenhair fern for Herbal Naturopathy: properties, benefits, uses, side effects

The Maidenhair fern (Adiantum capillus-vaneris) is a plant of the Polypodiaceae family. Since ancient times, it has been used for its beneficial effects on cold syndromes and to balance the scalp. Let’s find out better.

Property of the Capelvenere

The maidenhair has mainly relating to emmenagogic, diuretic, balsamic and emollient properties which is an excellent remedy for angina, cough and bronchitis. In the cosmetic field, the plant is used as an ingredient in preparations useful for the revitalization of the scalp and against hair loss.

The active principles contained in the plant, also responsible for its beneficial properties, are: phenols, such as adiantone, mucilage, triterpenoids, tannins, sulfur esters of hydroxycinnamic acid, gums, sugars, essential oils and alicic acids.

The maidenhair has several therapeutic properties.

  • It aids digestion as it enhances liver function.
  • It is useful for treating coughs, phlegm, colds, bronchitis, asthma, hoarseness and aphonia. 
  • It has a diaphoretic and diuretic action. 
  • Contains tannins, useful against bleeding and to regulate blood pressure.
  • Useful in case of amenorrhea. 
  • It helps against hair loss because it acts directly on the hair follicles. 

In addition, the maidenhair is also known for its action of reducing the stimulus to smoke and drink, so it is useful in case of addiction to alcohol and cigarettes. 

How to use

The Maidenhair fern is one of the most useful plants to combat the symptoms of colds, coughs and flu. Thanks to its tannin content, the Capelvenere has also a traditional cosmetic use for friction on oily scalp and with dandruff.

In phytotherapy, the Capelvenere is used in the form of infusions, decoctions and mother tincture .

We recommend using:

  • 1.5 grams of this substance per cup (infusion),
  • 40 drops of Maidenhair (mother tincture) two to three times a day,
  • 5-10 grams in 100 ml of water (decoction for external use).

Of the maidenhair plant, only the leaves are used for curative purposes. These are harvested between June and September and must be used fresh for the preparation of infusions, syrups and decoctions.

The maidenhair infusion, prepared with 20 g of leaves boiled in a liter of water, is useful against cough and hoarseness. It is possible to drink up to 4 glasses a day of cold infusion sweetened with honey. 

Maidenhair syrup, on the other hand, is used against bronchitis. It is prepared by macerating the leaves in water for 24 hours according to the proportions of 1 to 6. Afterwards, it is necessary to thicken the syrup by boiling it. The recommended doses are three tablespoons a day for about twenty days.

Finally, the maidenhair decoction is prepared by boiling 100 g of dried leaves in a liter of water, to be used, cold and filtered, as a shampoo against dandruff and hair loss. 

Contraindications of the  capelvenere

The maidenhair has no particular contraindications. However, its use during pregnancy and breastfeeding is not recommended. Before starting any therapy, it is always a good idea to ask your doctor for advice as the Maidenhair fern can produce side effects such as hypersensitivity reactions towards one or more active ingredients contained in the drug. 

Description of the plant

The Maidenhair fern ( Adiantum capillus-vaneris ), is a herbaceous plant belonging to the Polypodiaceae family.

The maidenhair fern is a small fern also known as “John’s Beard “. The leaves are light green in the shape of a fan, has an aromatic scent and a bitter taste. It can reach a maximum height of about 30 cm

Habitat of the Maidenhair fern

Originally from southern Europe, the maidenhair fern is widespread throughout the Italian territory, in particular, in the cool and humid submontane areas, near streams and in calcareous soils up to a height of 1300 meters. It is usually grown as a decorative plant.


The term Adiantum derives from the Greek and means “that does not get wet”. This probably indicates the characteristic of remaining dry when immersed in water.

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