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Scientific Name(s): Fumaria officinalis L.
Common Name(s): Common fumitory, Drug fumitory, Earth smoke, Fumaderm (Germany), Fumitory, Pitpapara

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 29, 2022.

Clinical Overview


Fumaria has been traditionally used as a laxative and diuretic, and as a treatment for dermatologic conditions such as eczema. Limited evidence suggests that it may be beneficial in hepatobiliary disorders, and F. officinalis is approved in Germany for colic pain. The potential for use of fumaric acid derivatives in the management of multiple sclerosis and psoriasis has been reported, but sufficient clinical evidence is lacking.


Therapeutic studies of plant extracts to provide dosage guidance are lacking. A German preparation of fumaric acid derivatives is used in psoriasis at dosages up to 720 mg/day.


None well documented.


Avoid use of Fumaria during pregnancy and lactation because of the lack of pharmacological and toxicity data.


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

GI complaints and flushing have been reported with use of fumaric acid derivatives.


Fumaria is not associated with clinically important toxicity, although studies are limited. However, alkaloids such as protopine may exhibit toxicity.

Scientific Family

  • Papaveraceae, poppies (Fumariaceae)


Fumaria is an annual plant of somewhat variable characteristics, often resembling a bush but also growing as a low, trailing shrub. It has gray, pointed leaves that, at a distance, give the plant a wispy appearance like smoke (hence the common name "earth smoke") and pink-purple flowers that bloom in spring. The plant is widely dispersed and can be found in gardens, on slopes, and in wastelands. There are approximately 46 different Fumaria species, including Fumaria occidentalis, Fumaria parviflora (syn. Fumaria indica), Fumaria vaillantii, and Fumaria reuteri, which are difficult to differentiate. In a debate regarding the classification of Fumitoria, some botanists distinguish the Fumitoriaceae subfamily as distinct from the Papaveraceae family. The climbing fumitory, or Allegheny vine, is a North American plant of another genus (Adlumia).Gupta 2012, Schauenberg 1977, USDA 2013


Fumaria has been known since antiquity and was traditionally used by expressing and evaporating the plant's juice. It has a long history of use as a blood purifier in traditional medicine, including the Ayurvedic system, and has been investigated for its therapeutic potential in the management of cardiovascular and hepatobiliary disorders, psoriasis, eczema, and other dermatologic conditions, as well as a laxative and diuretic. Fumaria is included in the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia and in The Complete German Commission E Monographs.Gupta 2012, Singh 2011, USDA 2013


Steroids (including sitosterol, stigmasterol, and campesterol) and many isoquinoline alkaloids have been described from all plant parts, including the root and seed.

The alkaloid content is approximately 0.87% to 1.27%, with protopine comprising 0.18% to 0.25% and fumoficinaline ranging from 0.16% to 0.2%. In addition, phospholipids and organic acids, including caffeic and fumaric, have been described. Methyl fumarate and protopine have been investigated for hepatoprotective activity. Pharmacologically active substances have also been isolated from other species (F. indica and F. parvifolia) and are the focus of research. The results of high pressure liquid chromatography methods to identify constituents have been published.Gupta 2012, Gupta 2012, Pandey 2008

Sanguinarine has been extracted from Fumaria species but is more commonly obtained from Sanguinaria canadensis.Burgeiro 2013, Jeng 2007

Uses and Pharmacology

GI effects

Animal data

Experiments using isolated GI tract tissue have demonstrated both antispasmodic and prokinetic activities of Fumaria extracts. Cholinergic, muscarinic, and calcium channel involvement has also been demonstrated, with a concentration-response relationship described.Gilani 2005, Najeeb-ur-Rehman 2012, Najeeb-ur-Rehman 2012

Clinical data

A randomized, placebo-controlled, blind clinical study found a decrease in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)–associated pain with Fumaria; however, there was no difference over placebo using the global assessment measures of IBS. Increased abdominal distension was also associated with the use of Fumaria.Gilani 2005, Rahimi 2012

Hepatobiliary disorders

Animal data

Hepatoprotective properties of Fumaria species have been reported in animal studies; however, a precise mechanism of action has not been elucidated.Hentschel 1995, Hussain 2012, Orhan 2012, Tripathi 2010 Monomethyl fumarate demonstrated hepatoprotective activity against thioacetamide in vitro; in carbon tetrachloride, acetaminophen, and rifampin in vivo; and was comparable with silymarin, a recognized hepatoprotective.Rathi 2008

Clinical data

F. officinalis is approved in Germany for colic pain affecting the gallbladder and biliary system, in addition to the GI tract; however, quality clinical trials are lacking.Zacharewicz 1979

Dermatological effects

Animal data

An anti-inflammatory mechanism has been proposed in combination with inhibition of the proliferation of keratinocytes, but there are few experiments in animals.Nibbering 1997

Clinical data

A derivative of fumaric acid is approved in Germany for systemic treatment of psoriasis vulgaris.Altmeyer 1996, Altmeyer 1994, Mrowietz 1998, Papadopoulou 2010 One clinical study evaluated the effect of F. parviflora 4% topical cream in eczema, with reduction in area and severity scores noted for the Fumaria preparation.Jowkar 2011

Other uses

The potential for fumaric acid derivatives in the management of multiple sclerosis has been reported.Papadopoulou 2012

Anxiolytic effects have been reported in studies conducted in rats,Singh 2013 as well as bronchodilatory effects in vitro.Gilani 2005 Anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive effects have been studied in rodents.Molokhova 1973, Rao 2007

Antibacterial, antifungal, and antitrematode activity has been described for some Fumaria species.Gupta 2012, Ferreira 2011

A protective effect of F. parviflora ethanolic extracts on lead-induced testicular toxicity was demonstrated in rats.Dorostghoal 2013

Older studies described improved biochemical indices in diabetic rats fed a Fumaria dietJelodar 1998 and reduced experimental ischemia and arrhythmias in dogs.Rao 1998


Specific therapeutic studies using plant extracts to provide dosage guidance are limited.

A German preparation of dimethyl ester fumarate and ethyl hydrogen fumarate salts is used in psoriasis at dosages up to 720 mg/day.Papadopoulou 2010

Pregnancy / Lactation

Avoid use of Fumaria during pregnancy and lactation because of the lack of pharmacological and toxicity data.


None well documented.

The chemical constituent sanguinarine, found in S. canadensis and Fumaria species, has been suggested to have an antiplatelet effect,Molokhova 1973 but this effect has not been associated with Fumaria and case reports are lacking.

Adverse Reactions

Information is limited. Increased abdominal distension was associated with the use of Fumaria in 1 study, and GI complaints and flushing were reported in other clinical studies.Brinkhaus 2005, Papadopoulou 2010


A single case report of acute hepatotoxicity, possibly associated with Fumaria, has been published.Bonnet 2007 Monomethyl fumarate was found to be nonhepatocytotoxic in rat studies.Rao 1998

Researchers using a 50% ethanol extract of F. indica found no evidence of hematological, biochemical, or histological toxicity in both short-term and long-term studies in rodents.Gupta 2012, Singh 2013, Singh 2011 However, some Fumariaceae alkaloids (eg, protopine) may exhibit toxicity.Singh 2011

Index Terms

  • Fumaria indica
  • Fumaria occidentalis
  • Fumaria parviflora
  • Fumaria reuteri
  • Fumaria vaillantii



This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

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