Cow parsnip (Heracleum maximum)
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
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.
Apiaceae (family), common cow parsnip, giant cow parsnip, Heracleum, Heracleum mantegazzianum, Heracleum maximum, hogweeds, pushki, Sosnovskii's cow parsnip.
Cow parsnip (Heracleum maximum) is the only member of the hogweeds that is native to North America. Like other hogweeds, cow parsnip sap can cause blisters and phytophotodermatitis. There is currently insufficient evidence available in humans to support the use of cow parsnip for any indication.
Some Native American tribes used cow parsnip to treat bruises and sores.
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.
No available studies qualify for inclusion in the evidence table.
*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 against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
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.
Bruises, mosquito repellent, wound healing.
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 cow parsnip in adults.
Children (younger than 18 years)
There is no proven safe or effective dose for cow parsnip 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 individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to cow parsnip (Heracleum maximum) or its constituents.
Side Effects and Warnings
There are few adverse effects due to cow parsnip reported in the available literature. There are a few case reports of contact dermatitis and acute bullous dermatitis and toxic phytophotodermatitis. Avoid contact with the plant sap as it can cause blisters and phytophotodermatitis.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Cow parsnip is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding due to a lack of available scientific evidence.
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
Cow parsnip may cause contact dermatitis, including phytophotodermatitis or acute bullous dermatitis. Caution is advised when taking other photosensitizing agents as the risk of side effects may increase.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Based on several case reports, cow parsnip may cause contact dermatitis, including phytophotodermatitis or acute bullous dermatitis. Caution is advised when taking other photosensitizing agents as the risk of side effects may increase.
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).
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.
Kriazheva SS, Khamaganova IV, Kolibrina AM. [Dermatitis bullosa in children caused by cow-parsnip]. Pediatriia. 1991;(6):88-90. View Abstract
Maksakova GP. [Case of contact dermatitis caused by Sosnovskii's cow parsnip]. Vestn.Dermatol Venerol. 1978;(8):48-49. View Abstract
Prinz VL, Kostler H. [Report on 3 cases of toxic phytophotodermatitis due to Heracleum mantegazzianum (giant cow parsnip)]. Dermatol Monatsschr. 1976;162(11):881-886. View Abstract
Rogov VD. [Acute bullous dermatitis developing after contact with cow parsnip (Heracleum)]. Vestn.Dermatol Venerol. 1985;(11):58-59. View Abstract
Sokolova EM. [Bullous occupational dermatitis caused by the cow parsnip]. Vestn.Dermatol Venerol. 1968;42(2):64-67. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
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.
March 22, 2017