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Pedicularis spp.


No documentation

Vernacular Name



Some Pedicularis species are endangered in both American and Canada therefore many laws are in effect to protect the plant. The common name ‘lousewort’ came from the folklore that attributed the infestation of lice in cattle to the cattle grazing in fields where the herb was growing. There is much controversy over use of this herb indicating that the risks may be higher than the benefits.

Because there are up to 600 subspecies of Pedicularis accepted worldwide, each species will have its own individual morphology.

Origin / Habitat

Pedicularis is native to areas such as dry woods and forests and can be found in areas along Northeast America.

Chemical Constituents

Iridoid and phenylpropanoid glycosides; flavonoids[1],[2]

Plant Part Used

Whole Plant

Medicinal Use






Most Frequently Reported Uses




Historical use of this species of herb indicates that there is a broad range of dosages which vary depending upon individual use and application.

Use of this herb should be under the supervision of a trained herbalist. Dosages are based on individual need.



Pedicularis has been reported in laboratory studies to have antioxidative, antitumor, antifatigue and DNA repairing activity. Pedicularis was also reported in a laboratory study to have antibacterial activity against gram + and gram – bacteria.[3]

Several laboratory studies support the use of pedicularis as an antioxidant.[4],[5],[6] One laboratory animal study found that pedicularis decreased muscle fatigue in rats, due to the antioxidant effects decreasing reactive oxygen species (ROS), which  promotes fatigue in skeletal muscle.[7] An in vitro study found that the antioxidant properties of pedicularis were due in part to the chelating ability and subsequent inhibitory effects on lipid peroxidation.[8]

Pedicularis has been reported in laboratory studies to have antitumor activity against a number of cancer cell lines.[9],[10] Isoverbascoside inhibited cell proliferation, reversed cell malignant phenotypic characteristics, and consequently caused differentiation in MGC 803 cells. These effects might be associated with its activities of causing G0/G1 arrest and regulating the expression of cell cycle related proteins.[11] Another laboratory study found that verbascoside, isolated from pedicularis, had antitumor activity via its inhibiting effect on telomerase activity in tumor cells.[12]


No documentation

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation

Interaction with Drugs

Based on pharmacology, use with caution in individuals taking iron supplementation.

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

Discontinue if allergy occurs.


Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.

Age limitation

No documentation

Adverse reaction

Pedicularis may bind iron in the body, so use with caution in those with hematological disorders such as anemia or at risk for blood loss.[8]


  1. Su BN, Ma LP, Jia ZJ. Iridoid and phenylpropanoid glycosides from Pedicularis artselaeri. Planta Med. Dec 1998;64(8):720-723.
  2. Fujii M, Miyaichi Y, Tomimori T. Flavonoid, phenylethanoid and iridoid constituents of the whole plant of Pedicularis longiflora var. tubiformis. Planta Med. Dec 1995;61(6):584.
  3. Yuan CS, Sun XB, Zhao PH, Cao MA. Antibacterial constituents from Pedicularis armata. J Asian Nat Prod Res. Sep-Dec 2007;9(6-8):673-677.
  4. Wang P, Zheng R, Gao J, Jia Z, Wang W, Yao S, Zhang J, Lin N. Reaction of hydroxyl radical with phenylpropanoid glycosides from Pedicularis species: a pulse radiolysis study. Sci China C Life Sci. Apr 1996;39(2):154-158.
  5. Zheng RL, Wang PF, Li J, Liu ZM, Jia ZJ. Inhibition of the autoxidation of linoleic acid by phenylpropanoid glycosides from Pedicularis in micelles. Chem Phys Lipids. Jun 1993;65(2):151-154.
  6. Li J, Zheng RL, Liu ZM, Jia ZJ. Scavenging effects of phenylpropanoid glycosides on superoxide and its antioxidation effect. Zhongguo Yao Li Xue Bao. Sep 1992;13(5):427-430.
  7. Liao F, Zheng RL, Gao JJ, Jia ZJ. Retardation of skeletal muscle fatigue by the two phenylpropanoid glycosides: verbascoside and martynoside from Pedicularis plicata maxim. Phytother Res. Nov 1999;13(7):621-623.
  8. Li J, Ge RC, Zheng RL, Liu ZM, Jia ZJ. Antioxidative and chelating activities of phenylpropanoid glycosides from Pedicularis striata. Zhongguo Yao Li Xue Bao. Jan 1997;18(1):77-80.
  9. Mu P, Gao X, Jia ZJ, Zheng RL. Natural antioxidant pedicularioside G inhibits angiogenesis and tumourigenesis in vitro and in vivo. Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. Jan 2008;102(1):30-34.
  10. Li J, Zheng Y, Zhou H, Su B, Zheng R. Differentiation of human gastric adenocarcinoma cell line MGc80-3 induced by verbascoside. Planta Med. Dec 1997;63(6):499-502.
  11. Chen RC, Su JH, Yang SM, Li J, Wang TJ, Zhou H. Effect of isoverbascoside, a phenylpropanoid glycoside antioxidant, on proliferation and differentiation of human gastric cancer cell. Acta Pharmacol Sin. Nov 2002;23(11):997-1001.
  12. Zhang F, Jia Z, Deng Z, Wei Y, Zheng R, Yu L. In vitro modulation of telomerase activity, telomere length and cell cycle in MKN45 cells by verbascoside. Planta Med. Feb 2002;68(2):115-118.

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