Cowslip (Primula veris)
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.
Primula elatior, Primula elatior (L) Scherb., Primula officinalis Jacq., Primula veris, Primulaceae (family).
Note: Cowslip (Primula veris) should not be confused with Caltha palustris, which is also commonly called cowslip.
Cowslip (Primula veris) is native throughout most of temperate Europe and Asia. In northern Belgium, it is common, but mainly occurs in fragmented habitats. In Denmark, cowslip has been traditionally used for epilepsy and convulsions. Although preliminary laboratory tests show that cowslip may be beneficial for these conditions, clinical trials need to be conducted to define cowslip's therapeutic role. Currently, there is insufficient evidence in humans to support the use of cowslip for any indication.
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.
Anticonvulsant, anxiety, cardiovascular (heart) health, epilepsy, sedation (drowsiness).
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 cowslip in adults.
Children (younger than 18 years)
There is no proven safe or effective dose for cowslip 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 cowslip (Primula veris) or its constituents.
Side Effects and Warnings
There is insufficient evidence in humans to support the use of cowslip for any indication. Hemolytic activity (destruction of red blood cells) by cowslip has been reported. Use cautiously in patients with hematologic (blood) disorders.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Cowslip is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of sufficient available 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
Although not well studied in humans, ethanolic extracts of leaves of Primula elatior and Primula veris may have dose-dependent anticonvulsant effects. Caution is advised when taking cowslip with other anticonvulsant agents.
Cowslip may have anti-inflammatory effects. Caution is advised when taking cowslip with other anti-inflammatory agents.
Cardiodoron (Primula officinalis blossom extract, Onopordon acanthium blossom extract, and Hyoscyamus niger herb extract) may affect heart rate. Use cowslip cautiously with cardiac (heart) agents.
Hemolytic activity (destruction of red blood cells) by cowslip has been reported. Patients with bleeding disorders or those taking agents to alter the blood (hematological agents) should use cowslip with caution.
Cowslip may have antispasmodic effects.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Although not well studied in humans, ethanolic extracts of leaves of Primula elatior and Primula veris may have dose-dependent anticonvulsant effects. Caution is advised when taking cowslip with other anticonvulsant herbs or supplements.
Cowslip may have anti-inflammatory effects. Caution is advised when taking cowslip with herbs or supplements with anti-inflammatory effects.
Cardiodoron (Primula officinalis blossom extract, Onopordon acanthium blossom extract, and Hyoscyamus niger herb extract) may affect heart rate. Use cowslip cautiously with herbs or supplements that have potential cardiac (heart) effects.
Hemolytic activity (destruction of red blood cells) by cowslip has been reported. Patients with bleeding disorders or those taking herbs or supplements that may alter the blood (hematological agents) should use cowslip with caution.
Cowslip may have antispasmodic effects.
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.
No Author. [Fluctuation of the Saponin Content and the Hemolytic Activity of Saponaria Officinalis L. Priumula Officinalis (L.) Hill., Polemonium Coeruleum L., and Glycyrrhiza Glabra L.]. Pharmazie 1964;19:538-540. View Abstract
Anour R, Leinker S, van den Hoven R. Improvement of the lung function of horses with heaves by treatment with a botanical preparation for 14 days. Vet.Rec. 12-3-2005;157(23):733-736. View Abstract
Budzianowski J, Morozowska M, Wesolowska M. Lipophilic flavones of Primula veris L. from field cultivation and in vitro cultures. Phytochemistry 2005;66(9):1033-1039. View Abstract
Cysarz D, Schurholz T, Bettermann H, et al. Evaluation of modulations in heart rate variability caused by a composition of herbal extracts. Arzneimittelforschung 2000;50(5):420-424. View Abstract
Huck CW, Huber CG, Ongania KH, et al. Isolation and characterization of methoxylated flavones in the flowers of Primula veris by liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. J Chromatogr A 2-18-2000;870(1-2):453-462. View Abstract
Jager AK, Gauguin B, Adsersen A, et al. Screening of plants used in Danish folk medicine to treat epilepsy and convulsions. J Ethnopharmacol 4-21-2006;105(1-2):294-300. View Abstract
Muller A, Ganzera M, Stuppner H. Analysis of phenolic glycosides and saponins in Primula elatior and Primula veris (primula root) by liquid chromatography, evaporative light scattering detection and mass spectrometry. J Chromatogr A 4-21-2006;1112(1-2):218-223. View Abstract
Paris R. [On the flavonoids of native species of Primula. Presence of a heteroside of kaempferol in the flowers of Primula officinalis Jacq.]. Ann.Pharm Fr. 1959;17:331-335. View Abstract
Sufka KJ, Roach JT, Chambliss WG Jr, et al. Anxiolytic properties of botanical extracts in the chick social separation-stress procedure. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 1-1-2001;153(2):219-224. View Abstract
Van Rossum F, Triest L. Fine-Scale Spatial Genetic Structure of the Distylous Primula veris in Fragmented Habitats. Plant Biol (Stuttg) 11-13-2006. View Abstract
Vitas M, Smith KE, Plavec J, et al. Induction of steroidal hydroxylase activity by plant defence compounds in the filamentous fungus Cochliobolus lunatus. Chemosphere 1999;38(4):853-863. View Abstract
Webster MA, Gilmartin PA. A comparison of early floral ontogeny in wild-type and floral homeotic mutant phenotypes of Primula. Planta 2003;216(6):903-917. 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