Skip to Content

Pasque Flower

Scientific Name(s): Pulsatilla patens (L.) Mill., Pulsatilla pratensis L., Pulsatilla vulgaris Mill.
Common Name(s): Easter flower, Meadow anemone, Pasque flower, Pulsatilla, Wind flower

Clinical Overview

Use

Pasque flower has confirmed antibiotic and uterotonic activity; however, it is not recommended for human use.

Dosing

There is no recent evidence to support specific doses of pasque flower. The fresh plant is toxic; classical doses of the dried herb were from 0.1 to 0.4 g daily.

Contraindications

No longer considered safe.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Documented adverse effects. Avoid use. Uterine stimulant.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

No data.

Toxicology

Pasque flower is extremely toxic and should not be ingested or applied to the skin.

Botany

Several closely related species of pulsatilla have found medicinal use in Europe and North America. They are perennial herbs that grow in well-drained, sandy or rocky soil, blooming early in spring soon after snow has melted. The single large flower is characterized by the large, colored bracts, which have the appearance of petals. The whole plant is covered with silky hairs that give the ripe fruit the appearance of a mop head. All parts of the fresh plant have an acrid taste. Molecular research has defined the relationships between different species of pulsatilla and related genera, and has suggested that the genera Pulsatilla, Hepatica, and Knowltonia should be merged into the single genus Anemone.1

History

The dried whole plant of pulsatilla has been used in Europe for a variety of medicinal purposes, including dysmenorrhea and other gynecological disorders, skin diseases, asthma, and eye infections, and as a diuretic and expectorant.2 It is widely used in homeopathic preparations, once being considered specific for measles, and also used for toothache, earache, and indigestion. A large number of Asian species of pulsatilla (eg, Pulsatilla cernua. Spreng, Japanese name "Hakutoo," Pulsatilla chinensis (Bunge) Regel. and others, Chinese name "Bai Tou Weng") have also been used medicinally.3, 4

Chemistry

The most notable compounds in pulsatilla and many other Ranunculaceae are ranunculin, protoanemonin, and anemonin. Ranunculin is a glycoside that is enzymatically hydrolyzed when the tissues are crushed to the volatile unsaturated lactone protoanemonin, which then dimerizes to anemonin on exposure to air. Protoanemonin is extremely volatile and vesicant. Anemonin was first isolated in 17925 and protoanemonin was elucidated in 1920.6 Ranunculin was characterized in 1951, and the gross structure of anemonin was proposed.7 The complete stereostructure of anemonin was determined by x-ray crystallography in 1965.8

Triterpene saponins are found in various species of pulsatilla3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 12 while flavonoids also have been isolated.13 A novel bicyclic quinone was recently reported from P. koreana.14

Uses and Pharmacology

Protoanemonin has been reported to have antibacterial15, 16, 17, 18 antimalarial17 and antifungal19, 20 activity, and has been found to be cytotoxic as well.21 These properties may be due to the ability of protoanemonin to alkylate reactive moieties on proteins and other biomolecules.

The saponins of pulsatilla species have been reported to have cytotoxic22 antifungal, molluscicidal23 and sucrase inhibitory properties.24 The lignan beta-peltatin, isolated from P. chinensis, was strongly cytotoxic.22 Antibacterial properties were reported for pulsaquinone, the quinone isolated from P. koreana.14

Animal data

In animals, protoanemonin and anemonin have a sedating effect, while anemonin was antipyretic25 effects also seen in screening of the extract of P. alpina.26 A uterotonic effect of the extract has also been documented.27

Paradoxically, protoanemonin is antimutagenic in the Ames test.28 Sheep and other animals have been killed by overgrazing on protoanemonin-containing plants, and abortions and teratogenic effects have been observed.29

Dosing

There is no recent evidence to support specific doses of pasque flower. The fresh plant is toxic; classical doses of the dried herb were from 0.1 to 0.4 g daily.

Pregnancy / Lactation

Documented adverse effects. Avoid use. Uterine stimulant.30, 31 A uterotonic effect of the extract has also been documented.27

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Blistering of the skin is due to protoanemonin, which, since it is volatile and reactive, both evaporates or is converted to anemonin on drying of the plant.7

Toxicology

Fresh plant material of pasque flower is extremely toxic and should not be ingested or applied to the skin. Paradoxically, protoanemonin is antimutagenic in the Ames test.28 Sheep and other animals have been killed by overgrazing on protoanemonin-containing plants, and abortions and teratogenic effects have been observed.29

References

1. Hoot S, et al. Structural rearrangements, including parallel inversions, within the chloroplast genome of Anemone and related genera. J Mol Evol. 1994;38:274-81.8006994
2. Grieve M. A Modern Herbal. London, England: Jonathan Cape, Ltd.,1931:32-33.
3. Shimizu M, et al. Triterpenoid saponins from Pulsatilla cernua Spreng. I. Chem Pharm Bull. 1978;26:1666-1671.
4. Ye W, et al. Five new triterpene saponins from Pulsatilla patens var. multifida. J Nat Prod. 1999;62:233-237.10075748
5. Heyer M. Chemisch J V Crell. 1792;2:102.
6. Asahina Y, et al. J Pharm Soc Jpn. 1920;455:1.
7. Hill R, et al. Ranunculin: The precursor of the vesicant substance of the buttercup. Biochem J. 1951;49:332-335.14858339
8. Moriarty R, et al. The structure of anemonin. J Am Chem Soc. 1965;87:3251-3252.
9. Li X, et al. Triterpenoid saponins from Pulsatilla campanella. Phytochemistry. 1990;29:595-599.2591930
10. Ye W, et al. Patensin, a saponin from Pulsatilla patens var. multifida. Phytochemistry. 1995;39:937-939.7626268
11. Ye W, et al. Triterpenoids from Pulsatilla chinensis. Phytochemistry. 1996;42:799-802.
12. Ye W, et al. Pulsatilloside C from the roots of Pulsatilla chinensis. J Nat Prod. 1998;61:658-659.9599271
13. Yoshitama K, et al. An acylated pelargonin diglycoside from Pulsatilla cernua. Phytochemistry. 1998;47:105-107.
14. Moon J, et al. Isolation and structural determination of a novel antimicrobial compound from the roots of Pulsatilla koreana. Nat Prod Lett. 2000;14(4):311-317.
15. Baer H, et al. The nature of antibacterial agent from Anemone pulsatilla. J Biol Chem. 1946;162:65-68.
16. Holden M, et al. The range of antibiotic activity of protoanemonin. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1974;66:54-60.
17. Carlson H, et al. Antimalarial and antibacterial substances separated from higher plants. J Bacteriol. 1946;52:155-168.16561159
18. Seegal B, et al. The antibiotic activity of extracts of Ranunculaceae. Science. 1945;101:413-414.17758732
19. Misra S, et al. Antifungal principle of Ranunculus scleratus. Econ Bot. 1980;34:362-367.
20. Martin M, et al. In vitro activity of protoanemonin, an antifungal agent. Planta Med. 1990;56:66-69.2356244
21. Campbell W, et al. Anemonin, protoanemonin, and ranunculin from Knowltonia capensis. Phytochemistry. 1979;18:323-324.216833
22. Mimaki Y, et al. Triterpene saponins and lignans from the roots of Pulsatilla chinensis and their cytotoxic activity against HL-60 cells. J Nat Prod. 1999;62:1279-1283.10514313
23. Ekabo O, et al. Antifungal and molluscicidal saponins from Serjania salzmanniana. J Nat Prod. 1996;59:431-435.8699187
24. Zhang Q, et al. Cernuosides A and B, two sucrase inhibitors from Pulsatilla cernua. J Nat Prod. 2000;63:276-278.
25. Martin M, et al. Pharmacologic effects of lactones isolated from Pulsatilla alpina subsp. apiifolia. J Ethnopharmacol. 1988;24:185-191.
26. Martin M, et al. Pharmacological screening of Pulsatilla alpina subsp. apiifolia. J Ethnopharmacol. 1987;21:201-206.3437772
27. Farnsworth N, et al. Potential value of plants as sources of new antifertility agents. I. J Pharm Sci 1975;64:535.167146
28. Minakata H, et al. Protoanemonin, an antimutagen isolated from plants. Mutat Res. 1983;116:317-322.6339898
29. The Complete German Commission E Monographs–Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council, 1998:363.
30. Brinker FJ. Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions. 2nd ed. Sandy, OR: Eclectic Medical Publications; 1998.
31. Ernst E. Herbal medicinal products during pregnancy: are they safe? BJOG. 2002;109:227-235.11950176

Disclaimer

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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Hide